Last Friday, we had tickets to the Milwaukee Repertory Theater with our friends Amanda and Jon. We always do dinner beforehand, and this time, we picked a restaurant three out of the four of us (including me) hadn't been to: VIA Downer, the sister restaurant to one of my favorite Milwaukee restaurants, Transfer. We also had a restaurant.com gift certificate, which is always nice!
The atmosphere at both restaurants is fairly similar--older buildings that still have the integrity and feel of an old building, but done up in a cool, funky style. VIA Downer seems a bit bigger than Transfer, and their menu seems to be more pasta and entree focused, rather than pizza focused, like Transfer.
There was a holiday event going on on Downer Ave. that night, so it was fairly crowded (the Milwaukee Brewers Racing Sausages even made an appearance). But the good news was that there were appetizer specials going on! All appetizers were half off, so we got two: the fried ravioli (easy enough to understand) and crostini Milano--slices of toasted bread with spinach, garlic, basil, tomatoes and goat cheese (but not quite enough goat cheese for our liking). Both were tasty and hit the spot.
For meals, Amanda and Jon each got a pizza--the Da Vinci for Amanda (it's one of my favorites--it has red sauce, pesto, mozzarella, feta, asiago and tomatoes) and a cheese pizza for Jon. Nate decided on a pasta dish--the fettucine carbonara, a tasty albeit rich mix of cream sauce, pancetta, eggs and parmesan. He let me had a small dish of it (in exchange for a slice of pizza, of course). It was definitely tasty, but I'm glad I only had a small bit, as it's very rich.
I hemmed and hawed over what to get, and finally decided on a pizza. The Florentine caught my eye--garlic sauce, spinach, tomatoes and ricotta. It was tasty, but could have used a little something more. Onions may have been good on it. As much as I love Transfer/VIA pizzas, I've concluded that I prefer their red or pesto sauces better than the garlic sauces for some reason. They just seem a bit more flavorful to me.
Overall, the food was good and we had a good experience. I'd definitely go back, especially since we got punch cards for frequent visits!