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3. The Brothers Three

Classification: Traditional

Location: Marinette, Wisconsin

The process of culling and curing this countdown has presented certain difficulties, oversights and flat-out blunders, but overall it's become fairly organized now that the list is winding down. One of the challenges has been how to manage new restaurants visited once the list had already started to take shape. There were a couple of pizzas I was able to slot in and have them appropriately ranked, and a few others simply were left unmentioned, so as to not upset this fragile ecosystem. But in one instance, a complete restructuring of the order was required due to excellence and artistry that simply eluded my foresight. It came without any fanfare or anticipation, at the tail end of a quick fall getaway to Michigan's Upper Peninsula. As we began the return leg of our junket, we had targeted the smallish border town of Marinette, Wisconsin as a logical spot to enjoy a final dinner before completing the six-hour car sojourn back home. After a long day of wandering Lake Superior's southern shore, Wifey and I were hungry enough that almost anything would have satisfied, but nothing had prepared us for The Brothers Three.

It's a mystery how they came up with a name for this place, but it was started in the early 1970s by the three Nergard brothers, who had been experimenting with pizza recipes while working together in Illinois before opening their own shop in Marinette (just up the road from friend-of-the-blog Boomer.) After great early success, they began dabbling in expansion and menu variety, eventually opening a handful of other restaurants scattered around Wisconsin, but it's now returned to its original roots by closing all other locations and focusing instead on concentrated Italian/pizza awesomeness, which I fully applaud. New ownership assumed control a few years ago, but judging from the timeless decor and unblemished pizza recipe, it appears as though very few things have been tampered with.

Our visit occurred during one of the pandemic's numerous pauses in caution, and all restaurants and businesses in the area were open to at least partial capacity, so after scouring the village, we determined that Italian fare would fit the bill. We'd already had one (less than successful) pizza outing earlier on the trip, but I was naturally undeterred. Glancing over the menu for me was only a formality, but several pasta dishes were in play for Wifey. That is, until a server walked past our booth with pizza in hand. It looked very, very good. And with that fleeting glance, and much to my approval, she immediately changed her tune, declaring that tonight was Pizza Night. It was among the finest culinary decisions she's ever made. We ordered the 15" large with sausage/pepperoni and our only regret is not ordering one to take home. It's only natural that in Wisconsin cheese plays the starring role, but the thin crust defied science and gravity by providing a very firm foundation for the abundant toppings. The rest of the car ride home, I wrestled with how to wedge this late entry into an already very crowded ranking of great pizzas still jockeying for position. Adjustments needed to be made to create some space, and with some creativity and a sharp editing pen, The Brothers Three has very deservedly catapulted to the upper reaches of #Pizza100. Also, my apologies for the barrenness shown in the top photo, but once the pie arrived, we jumped straight into consumption with vigor and enthusiasm—I'm not even sure we spoke to each other. I'm a trained pizza enthusiast, and usually pretty good at prospecting good places to try, but I never saw this one coming. I can't wait to return. (10 of 10 stars)

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