Wisconsin produces more than 3 billion pounds of cheese each year. Wisconsinites take pride in their cheese production and consumption, but Alphonso's The Original in West Allis, Wisconsin takes their love of cheese to a new extreme. Alphonso's is home of the world famous lightning rods, some of the largest mozzarella sticks ever created. 

The Story of Alphonso

Zachary Schumacher

Alphonso was the son of Italian immigrants. Although Alphonso was the mastermind behind the classic Italian recipes used to start Alphonso's The Original in Milwaukee, Tim Szuta and Corey Washington are the men responsible for opening the restaurant. They met Alphonso as kids during the summer of 1993 when they came across his black Chevrolet Chevelle one night. After letting the boys admire the car, Alphonso approached the boys and offered them a job. This was the start of a life-changing friendship. 

Szuta and Washington did work for Alphonso including shoveling snow, weeding the garden, mowing the lawn, and of course washing the black Chevelle. Alphonso often rewarded the boys by taking them for rides in the car, as well as cooking them amazing home cooked meals. Alphonso cooked the boys several amazing Italian dishes, but their favorite was always his home-cooked pizza. As the years passed, Alphonso’s health rapidly declined. Following his death, Szuta and Washington were called to a meeting by Alphonso’s attorney. In this meeting, the lawyer disclosed that Alphonso had given the boys possession of his family’s 100-year-old book of recipes. They knew exactly what they had to do: In 2010, Szuta and Washington opened Alphonso’s in West Allis and carried on the legacy of Alphonso for years to come. 

Alphonso’s The Original is a pizzeria located on 92nd and Greenfield Avenue. Alphonso’s shares the space with their sister restaurant, Kings & Queens Jamaican Kitchen. At just 700 square feet, Alphonso’s has been operating at the same location for the past 11 years! 

The Rise to Fame

In 2020, Alphonso's gained national recognition after a customer posted a picture of the lightning rods on the famous Reddit thread, FoodPorn. The post blew up instantly, and after eight hours had gained over one million views

Alphonso’s lightning rods blew up again this summer on TikTok after user @thekatcurtis posted a video of the mozzarella sticks as well as the location in West Allis. The TikTok now has almost one million views. Now even more lightning rods are on the platform; the hashtag #alphonsostheoriginal now has 1.6 million views on TikTok. 

The Presentation

Zachary Schumacher

Unfortunately, I was unable to try the pizza when I ordered from Alphonso’s. However, I was able to get my hands on the lightning rods, and they did not disappoint. I was given the order in a pizza box that weighed well over that of a standard pizza. When I opened the box I was greeted by two comically large mozzarella sticks, as well as two large containers of marinara sauce. 

The Dimensions 

Zachary Schumacher

Before indulging in the giant cheese sticks, I did some measurements to see how big these mozzarella sticks really were. Two mozzarella sticks cost $14, but trust me when I say you are getting your money’s worth. I measured the largest of the two mozzarella sticks, and it came out to exactly 13 inches long and 2 ¼ inches wide. I also put the mozzarella stick on a scale, and it came out to 14.8 ounces (almost two pounds of mozzarella stick)! Unless you’re up for a challenge, I would definitely recommend grabbing a couple friends to enjoy these mozzarella sticks with. 

Zachary Schumacher

Alphonsos’ may have some of the world’s largest mozzarella sticks, but are they any good? To be completely honest, I was wary of how these would taste. Is it possible to have too much cheese? Does one compromise taste when creating massive food? Let’s just say my concerns vanished after my first bite. 

When I bit into these mozz sticks, I was greeted with a crispy, thick crust with a delicious blend of Italian herbs. It was immediately followed with a mouthful of warm, soft Wisconsin mozzarella. The sticks were served with a sweet and tangy marinara sauce that perfectly complemented the mozzarella sticks. 

If you or any of your cheese-loving friends live in the Milwaukee area, you’re definitely gonna want to give Alphonso’s the Original in West Allis a try.