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Party Size
For 2
7:00 PM
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Booked 18 times today


1976 reviews
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$30 and under
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Contemporary American
Top Tags:
  • Special Occasion (50)
  • Pre/post Theatre (45)
  • Scenic View (45)
After strolling up to the third floor of the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art via its stunning glass staircase, entering Fresco can feel like stepping into another world. The main dining room boasts wall-to-wall windows that provide panoramic views of downtown Madison. During warmer months, Fresco has plenty of outdoor seating in the Sculpture Garden.

The essence of Fresco is its menu – a thoughtfully prepared combination of fresh, seasonal offerings and contemporary twists on the classics. Fresco’s chefs have a deep appreciation for fresh, local ingredients, sourced directly when possible from the Dane County Farmers’ Market, just two blocks away on the Capitol Square.

Outdoor seating requests are accepted upon check in on a first come, first serve basis due to the possibility of inclement weather, and the limited amount of outdoor tables. Thank you for your understanding and we are excited to have you dine with us.
Dining Style
Casual Dining
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Contemporary American
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Hours of operation
Monday: Closed
Tuesday-Thursday: Dinner served 5 pm - 9 pm
Friday-Saturday: Dinner served 5 pm - 10 pm
Sunday: Dinner served 4 pm - 8 pm
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Phone number
(608) 663-7374
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Payment options
AMEX, Discover, MasterCard, Visa
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Dress code
Business Casual
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Executive chef
Giovanni Novella
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For offsite catering inquiries, or catering within the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, please contact Amanda Schnoll.
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Cross street
State Street / Henry Street / W. Johnson Street
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Parking details
Parking available at the Overture Center ramp on the corner of Henry & Dayton.
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Public transit
Henry & Dayton
Banquet, Bar Dining, Bar/Lounge, Beer, Cocktails, Full Bar, Gluten-free Menu, Late Night, Non-Smoking, Outdoor dining, Private Room, View, Weekend Brunch, Wheelchair Access, Wine
What 1976 People Are Saying
Overall ratings and reviews
Reviews can only be made by diners who have eaten at this restaurant
4.7  based on recent ratings
Noise · Moderate
98% of people would recommend it to a friend
  • 5
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OpenTable Diner (New Mexico)
3.0  Dined 2 days ago

My reservation indicated that this was my wedding anniversary. There was no acknowledgement. We were given a sub par table, even though there were better available tables in the restaurant. The bartender and server were excellent.

OpenTable Diner (Richmond)
5.0  Dined 4 days ago

We greatly enjoyed our meal at Fresco. Service was friendly and excellent. Portions were adequate and all tasted great. The setting is excellent with views of downtown Madison.

5.0  Dined 5 days ago

I went here unsure of how it would be for the price. I was pleasantly surprised. Great service, wonderful atmosphere, beautiful view, delicious food. Highly suggest it!

OpenTable Diner (Milwaukee)
5.0  Dined 6 days ago

My family of four including two teens had dinner before a show at the Overature Center. It was our first visit and we really enjoyed Fresco. I think I could have easily given 5 Stars... My tenderloin was small—maybe 4 oz—but fantastic and cooked to perfection. The potatoes below it were not particularly interesting or warm, and the fried enoki mushrooms tasted like straw (maybe they could be sautéed until just crisp tender rather that dried out by frying?...)... but these were redeemed by the fabulous blue cheese blob which I stacked on the tenderloin. My teens both enjoyed the wonderful burger which was more than ample at 1/2 pound and was tender as butter. Hubby had the mahi mahi which he also raved about; he paired this with the terrific crispy Brussels sprouts. My daughter and I each had the butter lettuce salad which had lots of delicious Gorgonzola cheese and a sweet touch of fruit and was dressed perfectly. The biggest negative—and the rest of the family was NOT bothered by this—is that I could smell food during our following theatre show and I realized that all of our clothes smelled like food. That must be why the restaurant smelled so good when we walked in!... just beware that this may also happen to you. :) I really think the smelly clothes is the reason for my 4 Star rating! Perhaps Fresco could consider amping up its kitchen ventilation. All in all lots of fun and memorable. We will return.

OpenTable Diner (Milwaukee)
5.0  Dined 6 days ago

Dinner prior to a Madison Symphony concert. With spouse and friends. Pleasant waitstaff.

vipOpenTable Diner (Chicago)
5.0  Dined 7 days ago

Every part of our evening was amazing. The food was fantastic, our server was VERY knowledgeable and Chef was gracious enough to send us several beautiful and tasty dishes. Can’t wait to come back!

OpenTable Diner (Milwaukee)
5.0  Dined on February 14, 2018

We always enjoy Fresco. Excellent service, great food.

Emerson (New Orleans)
4.0  Dined on February 14, 2018

This was our second dinner at Fresco. They had a reasonably priced prix fixe menu for Valentine's Day. The menu had a number of interesting choices and the dishes generally were well executed. My wife raved about the bruschetta appetizer, as the prosciutto and balsamic glaze enhanced what can be a bland dish in less capable hands. I had the burrata appetizer, which was superb when capers were on the fork to provide a salty element, but there were not enough capers on the plate. My wife had the pan-roasted chicken entree, which she enjoyed; however, the kitchen staff was a little heavy-handed with the paprika on the potatoes, which caught her off guard. The trophie pasta was the highlight of my meal, as the boar was tender and the dish was seasoned perfectly. For dessert, my wife had the buttermilk beignets with chocolate sauce. She could have eaten a plateful of them. My tiramisu, which was recommended by the waitperson, was good, but mushy, as it lacked sufficient textural contrast despite some crushed hazelnuts sprinkled on top. A glass of sparkling wine was included and it was a good way to start the meal. We each also had a glass of wine, a German Riesling for my wife and I had a Cabernet from Argentina, which were very good. The service was impeccable - attentive without hovering - and dishes were served in a timely manner. Despite being at a table in the middle of the room, we enjoyed quiet conversation without distraction. We've been fortunate to dine at many restaurants in Madison and find Fresco to be one of the best. It is a fine dining experience, in the sense that the chef and staff understand flavor combinations and display very good technique, but it is neither pretentious nor inaccessible to those merely seeking a very good meal in a cozy atmosphere.

AshleyR (Chicago)
5.0  Dined on February 14, 2018

We thought the Valentine's Day menu was amazing. All three of each of our courses were delicious. I could tell the ingredients were fresh and local. Compliments to the chef.

jrarjrar (Milwaukee)
5.0  Dined on February 11, 2018

stopped in for a super early dinner before a show at the overture center. the food and service were perfect. the scallops were probably the best i've had. don't skip the brussels sprouts.

BizTravel (Milwaukee)
4.0  Dined on February 10, 2018

The rotating menu of food and cocktails is always a delight to visit. Consistently delicious offerings and service.

Crazycarol (Milwaukee)
5.0  Dined on February 10, 2018

We celebrated an early Valentine's Day at Fresco. The food, service and ambiance were excellent! We always love dining at Fresco!

vipOpenTable Diner (Milwaukee)
5.0  Dined on February 9, 2018

All of the above is excellent. When you add in top notch service the place is hard to beat for a great meal at a great value in Madison.

SJ1234 (Milwaukee)
4.0  Dined on February 8, 2018

There was a lot of bacon in my brussels sprouts dish and in my scallops dish.

rosemarin (New York Area)
5.0  Dined on February 6, 2018

We made a great choice going to Fresco before a show on a weekday evening. Every time we go there, we are pleasantly re-surprised at how GREAT the food is. Among the 4 of us, we had 1 appetizer, 4 different entrees, and 4 different desserts. Each was excellent. Flavor, accompaniments, and preparation of the meals were spot-on. I really think that eating at Fresco feels a bit like eating at the home of friends who happen to be really good cooks. Sophisticated comfort food. Also, it's not easy to find a really delicious restaurant downtown that is not LOUD. Fresco manages to have that cool vibe without the clattering noise and competing voices. We sat near the kitchen and enjoyed watching the chef and kitchen staff work together to send out the beautiful and delicious food. They appeared to be so focused on food preparation -- almost like an air traffic control room. We left happy and satisfied.