Hungry Hound: Beer and cheese curd Polish, smoked meats, poke bowls at Milwaukee Bucks' Fiserv Forum

MILWAUKEE (WLS) -- With the NBA playoffs starting this weekend, it's another bitter reminder for Chicago Bulls fans the season is over. But there's another NBA team just up the road that's planning on a long post-season.

The Milwaukee Bucks have plenty to be excited about: a new arena with a new food service program. It's so good, it's beginning to draw fans from the North Shore.

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Few expenses are being spared in Milwaukee these days. There's superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo's contract; he is, in fact, the main reason fans are turning out in droves these days. The other is the Bucks' new home, the $524 million Fiserv Forum.

Chicago's own Levy Restaurants is behind the food service here. Like other stadium deals, they've reached out to the local community.

"We have some local partners that we're using their recipes and working close with the ownership to emulate their food that would be served in their restaurant, and bringing it into this sports and entertainment environment," said David Zakroczymski, executive chef at the Fiserv Forum.

Locals like Iron Grate Barbecue, serving a pulled chicken sandwich or their brisket burnt ends. They're a lot better than they probably need to be for arena eating.

"We smoke all of our meats in-house. We have a great big smoker in the main kitchen," Zakroczymski said.

Klement's Sausage is providing the wurst here. Brats are a given.

"We have a beer curd - beer and cheese curd Polish - that we offer as well. That is only here in the arena, nowhere else in the city," he said.

Klement's also provides the meat stick that arrives in your bloody mary. El Rey hails from the city's Southwest Side. They're selling loaded nachos with vibrant salsas and pickled jalapenos.

Way up on the upper level, an area usually forgotten by vendors, there is the Southside Market. It's a sort of food hall, with a number of great options. Pulled pork-topped mac and cheese anyone?

"There's a gyro stand, a grilled cheese and macaroni stand. But there's also Fresh Fin Poke. Great, fresh, sushi-grade products with rice bowls; very unique to this arena and this environment," Zakroczymski said.

As the team continues playing into the post-season, the kitchen has a chance to get even more creative, offering new specials all of the time.

"We have a great opportunity to showcase even more of our partners as we go into the post-season," Zakroczymski said.

You can obviously get brats and loaded nachos any time. But the fact that they've offered these other new items, like the poke bowls, show they've really raised the game here at Fiserv Forum. The way the Bucks are playing, they could be serving food well into May.

Fiserv Forum
1111 Vel R. Phillips Ave
Milwaukee, WI 53203
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