Italian restaurant ‘Il Cervo’ to open on top floor of The Trade hotel


Madison-based Food Fight Restaurant Group this week unveiled plans for its first Milwaukee restaurant concept, Il Cervo, an Italian restaurant opening in spring 2023 on the ninth floor of The Trade hotel in downtown Milwaukee’s Deer District.

Aptly named after the Italian word for “deer,” Il Cervo will serve classic and original interpretations of traditional Italian food and drinks, the group said. Its menu will include Florentine-style, dry-aged steak, butter-poached lobster, grilled whole fish, hand-rolled pasta, fresh-made ricotta and mozzarella, and hand-stretched sourdough pizza prepared in a stone hearth pizza oven.

The partnership between Food Fight and The Trade developers, Middleton-based NCG Hospitality and the Milwaukee Bucks, was marked Monday at a media event where the 4,500-pound pizza oven was hoisted up to the top-floor restaurant space.

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The nine-story hotel is currently under construction at the corner of Juneau and Vel R. Phillips avenues, directly north of Fiserv Forum, and is on track for a spring 2023 completion. Its name is an homage to the tradespeople who built the city of Milwaukee.

“With The Trade Hotel, our focus is to add to the fabric of downtown Milwaukee, all while celebrating the rich history of tradespeople who built this city,” said Andy Inman, chief development officer of NCG Hospitality. “We celebrate how things are made, including food and craft beverage options.”

Il Cervo’s top-floor dining space will feature an open kitchen with a bar, dining room, lounge, outdoor terrace and a private indoor-outdoor patio with views of the downtown skyline.

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“Our trade is cooking, and every dish we serve at Il Cervo will be made with skill and care,” said Caitlin Suemnicht, chief executive officer of Food Fight Restaurant Group, which owns and operates a portfolio of 18 restaurant locations across the greater Madison area.

She said entering the Milwaukee market was an “easy decision” with NCG Hospitality as its partner.

“Both of our companies share a passion for hospitality, and for providing exceptional experiences to our guests, employees and the greater community,” Suemnicht added.

Il Cervo is one of two restaurants planned at The Trade. The other is a signature concept that will occupy a space on the southeast corner of the ground floor.

In addition, the 205-room Marriott Autograph Collection hotel will have a two-story VIP suite with its own private access, 9,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting and event space, and ground-floor retail space.

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