Alphonso's, home of the massive mozzarella sticks, is re-opening this month in West Allis
Editor's note: Alphonso's The Original re-opened for business on Tuesday, June 28.
In mid-April, a few Radio Milwaukee staffers headed out to S. 108th St. in West Allis with eyes and appetites on Alphonso’s The Original, home of the famous footlong mozzarella sticks.
But there was a “CLOSED” sign on the door.
That’s because owner Tim Szuta has been hard at work preparing to open a new location at 9130 W Greenfield Ave., and after two months being closed, Alphonso’s will be ready to reopen in mid-June.
Alphonso’s isn’t any old pizza shop for one big reason. You may remember it went viral in 2020 for its mozzarella sticks the size of your forearm.
“Not every stick is created equal,” says Szuta. Hand-cut by the owner himself, the colossal cheese vessels typically range from 10 to 13 inches and can weigh in at a pound or more.
Szuta trademarked the Lightning Rod Mozzarella Sticks name after his product made the rounds on TikTok, Facebook and Reddit. He was also featured by the New York Times and OnMilwaukee, among many others. Szuta says customers have made trips from all over – including Texas, Canada and South Dakota – to try the cheese.
“Instead of saying ‘have a nice day,’ it’s like ‘have a nice stay in Wisconsin,’” he quips. “People are coming from far and wide for these things.”
The biggest order Szuta can remember was a wedding party that drove up from Chicago specifically for the Lightning Rods. He says they ordered around 100 sticks.
“They basically had a party right in front of my restaurant,” he recalls.
The approximately 1,000-square-foot building at the corner of W Greenfield Ave. and S. 92nd St. showcases Szuta’s personal memorabilia from the 1980s and early 90s, such as He-Man and WWE action figures, comic book covers, arcade games, “Star Wars” plush pillows and a “E.T.” section in the counter display, including a replica 1981 Kuwahara bicycle from the movie. And in the parking lot will be a 1969 Z28 Camaro and 1968 Chevelle that belonged to the restaurant's namesake.
Behind the counter, Szuta will work with a refurbished pizza oven and three fryers to serve up sticks at $7 a piece. Alphonso’s will only offer pick-up and delivery to start, with hopes to add up to 18 seats for dine-in.
With Lightning Rods in high demand and supply chain costs, Szuta has decided to “streamline” his menu, though it still features his signature classic car-themed pizzas, like the GTO (green peppers, tomato and onion) or the Firebird (buffalo chicken with bacon, red onion, black olives and green peppers), plus appetizers and a selection of sandwiches.
An update on Tuesday, June 28 said the shop is now open with limited hours: