Club Garibaldi’s has been on our radar for quite some time. I started hearing about this place last year, as Sol aka The Piranha (Rest In Peace) would stop here for lunch. A few other people here and there also recommended this place, and I even heard them mentioned on 88.9 fm as having the best wings in Bay View. After much ado we finally got around to going there for a review and it has since become one of our favorite places in the city for wings.
Located just a couple blocks from the shores of Lake Michigan at the intersection of Russell Ave and Superior St, this understated corner bar with a green awning doesn’t scream “awesome wings” from the street. But as we’ve come to find out from some of the best wing joints in the area, looks can be deceiving. The atmosphere inside Club Garibaldi is all it’s own. The main bar area has that local, “corner-bar” feel, complete with friendly bartenders and colorful regulars. A large hall towards the back makes up the other two thirds of the interior. The hall has an eclectic feel, with Spanish influenced architectural cues, pool tables, dart boards, and a stage where live performances are held. The bar and the larger “hall” area almost feel like they were two separate buildings at one time and someone decided to knock a hole in the wall and combine the two. I have no idea if that is the case, but the space is definitely appreciated.
We’ve been to Club Garibaldi’s a couple times before the official review so we knew the deal about ordering the wings. That deal being they take some time on their wing night (which is Wed). Plan for an hour if you’re there at peak times. The “hot wings” are available in 3 varieties; Regular, Hot, and Nuclear. The night we came for our review we brought eight people, and it was sort of a medium busy night. After grabbing a beer everyone decided what they wanted, and we placed our orders at the bar. Surprisingly our wings didn’t take as long as usual, and no one complained.
What makes these wings so special is how they’re prepared and cooked. The wings are first fried, then marinated, and THEN grilled. This unique combination makes for a fantastically cooked, crispy, and flavorful wing. Most of the fat is rendered out of the wing during the frying process, while still keeping the wing moist. The marinating process allows the spices soak deep into the wing, ensuring flavor in every bite. When the wings are finally grilled they are left with a wonderful charred exterior with skin that has the right amount of bite, chew and crispiness. Because they are grilling sooooo many wings at once on such a small grill (about two feet wide to be exact), you end up getting a wing here and there that spent a little too much time over the open fire and gets “extra crispy”. We didn’t find this to be that big of a deal, and some liked finding them. This is a local place making wings after-all, not a chain with bottled sauces. I’m OK with a burnt wing here and there.
The sauces themselves are equally pleasing. The names perfectly reflect the level of heat. Just want a deliciously tasting wing, with a slight kick but hold the fire extinguisher? Then the Regular are right up your alley. The heat is still there, but not enough to get your forehead dripping. The Hot are a perfect progression up the heat scale. The same flavors, and spices are throughout but with enough heat that you don’t feel like a 7 year old girl eating them. The Nuclear are HOT. Not even close to one of the hottest wings we’ve ever eaten, but hot enough to cause some discomfort (see the pic gallery for said pics of discomfort). But the kicker here is that even as hot as the Nuclear are, they still taste damn good! Very damn good in-fact. I personally save those kind of wings for when I’m done eating the rest of my wings just so they don’t ruin the rest of the wings for me, which most of the time super-hot wings will do.
There’s not much else to say about Club Garibaldi except, if you haven’t tried them yet, GO NOW. These wings are excellent and no matter what side of town you’re on they are worth the drive. People claim these are some of the best wings in Milwaukee and we agree completely.
– Mel “Boneyard” Russell
I felt it was important for me to add my opinion on this review for a few reasons. First, Club Garibaldi’s was the first place that I’ve ever ordered real wings. Yes, I know. I’m not proud to say that I was a boneless wing eater before. I’ve tried them before, just never ordered them. Second, I like to think of my contribution to this site as sort of an outsider’s opinion, since I don’t really consider myself a wing connoisseur like the rest of the boys. Because of that, I think my take on future reviews might be useful for readers who want to take their friends to a wing joint, but know said friends might be a little picky about wings on a bone.
So after much convincing from Mel, and partly because this was the place my late best friend used to frequent for lunch, I ordered a batch of the Regulars.
One of my biggest deterrents about eating real wings is if they’re cooked or prepared poorly. Too much oil or grease, no thanks. Too much fat, no thanks. Too much stretchiness, no thanks. Club Garibaldi’s preparation is still my favorite of any place in Milwaukee, and it’s what keeps me craving their wings. I don’t have to worry if I’ll bite into an undercooked wing, or one that has that stretchy piece that turns you off. Like Mel mentioned above, every wing’s fat is mostly rendered off, leaving crispy, thin, flavorful skin over juicy, marinated meat.
And I wouldn’t clarify the flavor as a “sauce” necessarily. It’s different than a lot of other places I’ve since had wings from. The strong tangy flavor penetrates throughout the wing, cooked through rather than basted on the surface. No doubt a result of the marinating process, but different enough than most other places.
Finally, I believe that “only” having three flavors isn’t a bad thing if they’re done as well as Club Garibaldi’s. You go there for their signature flavor in an excellently prepared wing. You don’t go there to be wowed by their new experimental blend of exotic spices coupled with imported plantains and sugar maple whozawhats. Although there are places that do the exotic sauces very well (and I think a review might be coming with just that type of joint) this ain’t one of them. Frankly, I don’t give a damn. They’re still my favorite wings in Milwaukee.
What do you think aboutClub Garibaldi’s wings? Was our review right on or should they be rated higher or lower then 3.5 out of 5 stars? Let us know in the comment section below!