Belli’s Bistro & Spirits opens in Bay View

Space formerly housed Pastiche Bistro & Wine Bar

Belli’s Bistro & Spirits, a new restaurant serving American-style comfort food, recently opened in the space that formerly housed Pastiche Bistro & Wine Bar in Milwaukee’s Bay View neighborhood.

Owner Charmice Dodson opened the restaurant almost two weeks ago, but it will celebrate its official grand opening on April 7, she said. The two-story building, located at 3001 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., has sat vacant since Pastiche moved in August 2016 to a ground floor space at Hotel Metro in downtown Milwaukee.

The restaurant– open for lunch and dinner Tuesday through Sunday and for brunch during the weekend– occupies the building’s ground floor, which seats about 40 people. Its menu offers appetizers, entrees, soups and salads that are centered around a comfort food theme. Dodson said the Honey Glazed Salmon has been the restaurant’s top selling entree so far.

Belli’s also serves a selection of wine, beer and craft cocktails, including a margarita and strawberry mojito. Its bar area sits six people.

“People can order a craft cocktail if they’d like, but for me, its really about our plates and our food,” Dodson said.

Belli’s has a staff of seven, including head chef Marco Lezameta, but Dodson said she is searching for a sou chef and line cook.

Charmice Dodson

The process of opening Belli’s has not been easy for Dodson. She first proposed her plans to open the restaurant in November, but after receiving complaints from neighboring residents, she revised her plans. The complaints mainly regarded street parking availability, usage of the building’s second floor and the restaurant’s closing time. Based on those concerns and Dodson’s compromise, the restaurant follows a strict 10 p.m. closing time and is not licensed to utilize the building’s second floor space.

Even after revising her plans to meet the community’s concerns, Dodson said, she appeared at three separate hearings with the City of Milwaukee Licenses Committee before the committee approved her proposal.

“It was a draining process,” she said.

To address the issue of scarce parking near the restaurant, a problem typical for Bay View, Dodson said she has considered negotiating with a nearby clinic for use of its parking lot. She said, with the community’s support, she hopes to eventually utilize the second floor space, which also seats 40 people, for small private events.

“We’ve gotten a lot of support so far from the Bay View community, which is very exciting,” she said. “I make a point of going around to every table to introduce myself and get to know the patrons.”

Many people who have visited the restaurant since its recent soft opening have told Dodson they heard about Belli’s on social media or through word of mouth, which she said, is a positive sign and gives her hope for longterm support from the community.

Belli’s has a staff of seven, including head chef Marco Lezameta, but Dodson said she is searching for a sou chef and line cook.

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Maredithe Meyer
Maredithe Meyer started as an intern reporter at BizTimes in summer 2015. She currently covers entertainment, sports, tourism and restaurants. In May 2017, she graduated with a journalism degree from Marquette University where she worked as an in-depth projects reporter for the Marquette Wire and Marquette Tribune.