The Bartolotta Story

The Bartolotta Restaurants is a nationally recognized restaurant and catering organization co-founded by restaurateur Joe Bartolotta and his brother, two-time James Beard Award-winning Chef Paul Bartolotta. Since the opening of its flagship restaurant, Ristorante Bartolotta dal 1993, The Bartolotta Restaurants has grown to become the premier culinary brand in the Greater Milwaukee region, offering first-class service and cuisine across a portfolio of 17 one-of-a-kind restaurants and catering facilities, including fine dining, upscale casual, upscale food hall, pizzeria, and quick-casual concepts. Additionally, its presence as a forward-thinking, respected, and community-minded company has produced a charitable arm, Care-a-lotta, which supports numerous nonprofit organizations throughout Milwaukee.

A fine dining tradition

Joe and Paul Bartolotta grew up in a traditional Italian family in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin. Along with siblings, Maria and Felicia, they enjoyed large gatherings centered around the “Bartolotta Table” with good food and plenty of love. In March of 1993, Joe and Paul collaborated to realize their dream of creating signature restaurants together in Milwaukee by opening Ristorante Bartolotta in the Village of Wauwatosa. The restaurant elevated the dining scene in Milwaukee by offering authentic and traditional Italian dishes using the freshest ingredients available.

Drawing upon Paul’s extensive culinary training in Italy as a basis for the menu, Ristorante Bartolotta dal 1993 became an immediate sensation in Milwaukee, garnering four stars and consistent recognition as the city’s best Italian restaurant.   Ristorante Bartolotta dal 1993 has maintained its tradition of world-class service and cuisine for more than three decades, earning the prestigious Marchio Ospitalità Italiana certification of excellence from the Italian Union of Chambers of Commerce in 2023, underscoring its commitment to “Made in Italy” quality and authenticity.

In 1995, the company opened a second restaurant: Bartolotta's Lake Park Bistro, a spacious, brasserie-style eatery focusing on rustic and authentic French cuisine. After Lake Park Bistro earned a four-star review, it established The Bartolotta Restaurants as the guiding force behind the evolution of fine dining in Milwaukee. Since its opening, Lake Park Bistro’s beautiful setting in a park pavilion overlooking Lake Michigan and its award-winning cuisine have made it one of the premier dining and special event destinations in Milwaukee.

Over the next two and a half decades, The Bartolotta Restaurants added a variety of fine dining, upscale casual, and catering concepts to its portfolio. In 2017, 2018, and 2019, Joe and Paul were selected as semi-finalists for the James Beard Foundation award for Outstanding Restaurateur, a category limited to those who have been in the restaurant business for at least 10 years, and who have set "high national standards in restaurant operations and entrepreneurship."  Following Joe’s passing in 2019, Paul was nominated in 2020 as a finalist in this category.

Assuming the role as sole owner, Paul successfully navigated the company through the COVID pandemic and began to explore new opportunities to grow and make an impact on the Milwaukee community and beyond. The Commodore – A Bartolotta Restaurant, was conceived and developed within a historic waterfront property on Nagawicka Lake. Dedicated to the legacy of Lake Country, this new destination serves as a multi-purpose venue, with a fine dining restaurant, bars, and multiple spaces for large and small group events, coupled with the award-winning cuisine and first-class service guests have come to know and love from The Bartolotta Restaurants. At the same time, Paul played an integral role in the effort to bring the globally recognized Top Chef competition to Milwaukee. His efforts were successful, leading to the city being chosen as the location for the show’s 21st season, bringing worldwide attention to the restaurants and personalities that make Wisconsin a world-class dining destination. 

For over three decades The Bartolotta Restaurants has grown to become the premier culinary brand in southeastern Wisconsin, with a vision of sharing the “Bartolotta Table” with the world. As the company continues to grow, the mission of creating authentic relationships and lasting memories for guests around The Bartolotta Table will always remain the same.

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