June 12, 2014

Three Generations Severed the Best Pasta

On a cool, gray, rainy morning what would cause 134 people to line up, waiting for over an hour for the doors to open and let them in?
The answer is. . . the best Italian lasagna you have ever tasted. I happened to be one of those people standing in line, I was 51 people from the front of the line.

This building sitting on the corner of Mead Street in Racine, Wisconsin is Toteros' restaurant and it's different from any other restaurant you'd walk into.

The Toteros’ grandfather Achille Totero started the restaurant in 1939.  His son Santo Totero was the second owner, and Albert and Angela brother and sister took over from their father in 1987. Their children have chosen different careers, so there is no fourth generation waiting to take over. 

Nine years ago this iconic restaurant decided to drop dinner service and serve only lunch four days a week.
The menu is simple. Except for the occasional special, the formula is always the same: 
beef, Italian sausage or meatball bomber any day, each day of the week has just one type of pasta, always on the same day of the week. Tuesday is rigatoni day, Wednesday lasagna, Thursday spaghetti and Friday is mostaccioli. Wednesday is the most popular day of the menu week.

After walking up a few stairs to enter the building, you walk through the dining area to the kitchen entrance where you will place your order.

Walking up a few stairs takes you to the bar/dining area.
The dinning area will seat 36 guests and the bar area seats 14.
You walk up to the door but don't enter the kitchen.
Above the door the days menu.
These four hard working women run the kitchen.
Huge pots of freshly made sauce gently simmer on the stove.
Your lunch plate a generous slice of lasagna with two pieces of bread.
In the bar/dining area find an empty seat and sit down. You might share a table with someone you don't know, but at Toteros' everyone is family.

Need something to drink, walk up to the bar and Al will hand you your requested beverage.
Photo Credit
Brother and sister and co owners Al and Angela Totero
The best lasagna with fresh homemade sauce.
I had mine without sauce.

After you finish eating you take your dirty plates and put them on the bar. Al asks you what you ate adds up the total in his head, and you hand him the money. No waitress, no bill, just the best Italian food in the Milwaukee area. 

While I was eating my lasagna, and the line was still very long, they ran out of lasagna, and started serving spaghetti.
We will miss you Al and Angela, enjoy your retirement.

I started standing in line around 10:40 a.m. and I exited the restaurant at 12:23 p.m. Only two more weeks until Toteros' closes its doors, I'm going back next Wednesday, want to join me? My treat!


  1. Oh this is soooo how I remember Italian food and small restaurants in Italy when we went there on vacation. Not so anymore, unfortunately! Things change. And not always for the best! Enjoy that lovely food for me next week. Wish I could keep you company in line. Linda@Wetcreek Blog

  2. What a gem of a place! A pity I'm not closer. =)

  3. I wish I could join you but alas tomorrow is another surgery day. Getting a cataract out.

  4. I hate to see iconic places like that go away. Enjoy it while you can it looks yummy!

  5. What a wonderful place! Such a shame that there is nobody to carry it on.

  6. Oh what a shame it's closing. It looks like such a great place to eat. Oh and the food.....yummy.....xx

  7. Lasagna! Nom. Such a yummy comfort food for me. Love your blog :)