Job center bringing opportunities to Wisconsin inmates

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A prison near Madison is giving inmates access to a Wisconsin Job Center to help them prepare for life after their release.

Oakhill Correctional Institution inmates can use the center’s computers with limited internet access to build resumes, search and apply for jobs, and set up interviews via email, Wisconsin Public Radio reported .

“He applied for a job. We got a response back from the employer, and he got offered an interview,” Brikowski said. “So through email, I scheduled the interview for him. He was released on a Thursday. The interview was that following Monday. He went to the interview and got offered the job.”

Wisconsin’s unemployment rate has been about 3 percent for the past eight months. State officials say there are more job openings than there are job seekers. Officials hope to open more job centers at prison to help with the issue.

Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development Secretary Ray Allen said officials aim to have the center provide hope.

“Hope for those who had made a mistake,” Allen said. “Hope that gives them the opportunity to become law-abiding, self-sustaining citizens of this great state.”

Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch said the new center helps the Corrections Department live up to its name.

“So that our folks who come to our Corrections Department are coming not to a punishment department but a corrections department, where there is an opportunity to learn, to grow your skills and to return to the communities from which they came, as 95 percent of them will, with opportunity,” Kleefisch said.

The spring foodie event you must attend

The Express-News will celebrate its “Top 100: Dining & Drinks” winners with a tasting event at La Cantera Hill Country Resort April 30.

The event, which is open to the public, will give attendees a chance to sample some of the city’s best food and drinks from the “Top 100” winners as selected by the Express-News’ Taste team, while also enjoying great music.

commemorative wine glass; cost is $75 for Express-News subscribers and $100 for the general public. Tickets for the general event include 10 sample tickets and a commemorative glass and cost $60 for subscribers and $75 for the general public. There will be a cash bar available for anything other than samples. You can get tickets from the Express-News online store, or at the door for $100.

Subscribers, don’t forget that you get free access to our “Top 100: Dining & Drinks” guide online, (click here) where you can search our interactive map of listings for the perfect place to nosh or sip by cuisine type, area, price and more, all at This is a must-have feature for area foodies, so if you’re a print subscriber and still haven’t activated your free account, you’re missing out.

But if you really love the idea of a physical book and want to buy a copy of “Top 100: Dining & Drinks,” you can for $3.99 from the online store.

And if you’re a foodie on the go, download our free PlaySA app where you can find listings, make reservations, and be the first to know about special deals and discounts — all from your phone. Just text “download” to 77948 to get insider food and drink scoops.

So bon appétit, guten appetit and buen provecho, y’all.

Review: Goodbye Bella on the River, hello Bella on Houston

Bella on the River, the romantic alcove of a restaurant that opened on the River Walk in 2011, closed in August to make way for a condo project. But with that closing came the promise of reinvention, and Bella has reopened as Bella on Houston, in a much larger space just a few doors down from the Majestic Theatre.

But the new space is more than just a change of address. It’s like stepping from the Old World into the New, with towering windows and sleek shades of lavender and gray and bolts of fabric suspended from the ceiling like coronation banners.

For all the charm people associated with the old River Walk spot, I found its stone walls, tight table layout and low ceilings claustrophobic. The new Bella has twice the seating capacity and room to breathe, even as it incorporates pieces from the old space, including glass vases in lollipop hues, a vintage balcony railing and a polished wooden banquette with lean, Scandinavian lines.

On the menu: Bella on Houston re-creates the River Walk menu almost to the letter. To gauge whether the move tilted the kitchen’s axis, I ordered the same spread as I did in December before the move. Spoiler alert: If you liked the old Bella, the new Bella will feel like home already.

Eggplant Josephine ($12) was a deceptively complex appetizer: a short stack of fried eggplant layered with shrimp, then shrouded like a Cinnabon with mozzarella cheese, hollandaise sauce and a tangy red pepper Diablo sauce. The hollandaise will make you think of eggs Benedict, the mozzarella and eggplant will put you in an Italian mindset, and the Diablo sauce is like a Spanish-Mediterranean accelerator.

Paella with shrimp, clams, mussels, chorizo and chicken ($32) carried over the pros and cons of the River Walk version. The surf and turf elements? Clean and fresh and perfectly cooked. The rice? More like risotto, soft and clumpy with an underdeveloped tomato-pepper character. A paella divided against itself, but still standing.

Bella’s lamb chops delivered a well-seasoned trio of two-bone chops stacked against each other like a carnivoral arsenal. Seared to a sunburned rare with only carrot jus, arugula and a schmear of eggplant puree to back them up, the chops were on their own to carry the plate. At $42, they needed more substantial support.

On Review: Boudro’s on the River Walk is showing its age

I found that support with a separate side of potato croquettes ($12 for three), with shells as crisp and delicate as spun glass over velvety mousseline cores with a contrastingly sharp sun-dried tomato aioli.

More modest in sweep, a fan of rosy-red duck slices laid across sweet potato puree and a bed of lentils brought the night’s best blend of composition, flavor and balance ($28).

Virginia’s Pistachio Cake ($8) is the kind of dessert loyalists swear by. But it’s also part of the way Bella’s adapting to its new downtown market, as part of a $40 three-course pre-theater menu for clients on the move and a restaurant determined to keep up.