The year was 1957 when Carl Ruffalo opened his first pizzeria in Kenosha. It was called The Dog House and served sandwiches and pizzas in Columbus Park to Nash and American Motors workers. This would be the predecessor to Villa D’Carlo, which has been located at 5140 6th Ave. in Downtown Kenosha since 1962. Today, Carl’s wife Beverly continues to decorate Villa D’Carlo, his stepson Robert Greskoviak owns it, and Robert’s son Jake manages it. The three-generation family business continues to follow Carl’s recipes, makes everything in-house, and even grows much of the food in an on-site garden.
Simply put, Villa D’Carlo is known for its homemade Italian food and pizza. Nothing is pre-made. The pizza dough and sauce are made every day; the sausage is ground in-house. The menu includes designer and build-your-own pizzas, Italian specialties, American entrees, sandwiches, seafood, soup, salads, and appetizers. Dessert options include Tiramisu and Cannoli. Sandwiches include a Homemade Italian Sausage Bomber.
Here are more fun facts about the restaurant, courtesy of Robert and Jake:
- The most popular pizza topping? Sausage.
- The most popular items other than pizza? Villa pasta – Sliced homemade Italian Sausage sautéed with Garlic, Olive Oil, Bell Peppers, Onions, Seasonings and Parsley. This is served over Fettuccine. Also popular is Homemade Ravioli served with Red Sauce and Meatball and your choice of Meat, Cheese or Spinach.
In 1957 Carl Ruffalo opened his first pizzeria in Kenosha, serving workers at the Nash and American Motors plants. This would be the predecessor to Villa D’Carlo.
- How many kitchens are there? Two are on the main level, including one just for pizza. There’s also a prep/butcher room in the basement.
- A white paper tablecloth and crayons are provided on each table – encouraging children of ALL ages to draw on the table.
- The garden outside the back kitchen door grows zucchini, tomatoes, climbing beans, eggplant, red onion, sage, basil, dill, pears, apples, plums, grapes, and more!
- Villa D’Carlo was one of the first restaurants to offer outdoor seating – back in the 80s. Flowers and lights, and a view of the harbor across the avenue make for a beautiful outdoor dining experience! The seating area was expanded in the Summer of 2016.
- Beverly started decorating the restaurant in the early 80s – the interior and exterior – for the holidays. Halloween, Christmas, Easter – everything is covered. The Easter Bunny visits in the spring, while the staff dresses up on Halloween. Jake says she wanted to create a mini Disney World – and loves seeing the families come in.
- The restaurant doesn’t charge for use of its banquet space – only a deposit is required. Private banquet space in the basement seats up to 60 people, while 150 is the capacity of the entire main level.
- Dine in (or outside), carryout, and delivery are available. Everything on the menu can be ordered for carryout. There is a separate home delivery menu, which doesn’t include some menu items such as desserts and steaks.
In a city known for its Italian ancestry and restaurants, dinner at Villa D’Carlo should be on your itinerary! Decades later, Carl’s recipes – including the offering known as Carl’s Pizza – are still well known in Kenosha, and the generations that followed him on the family tree continue to keep his legacy alive.
For hours and more information about Villa D’Carlo call 262.654.3932 or visit http://www.villadcarlo.com
See the Kenosha Area Convention & Visitors Bureau-produced video clip here.