The Bartolotta Story

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 unbelievably good food and plenty of love. In 1993, Joe and Paul collaborated to realize their dream of creating signature restaurants in Milwaukee. Paying homage to the family name, Ristorante Bartolotta opened in March of 1993. Embracing the culinary concept of "cucina rustica," the restaurant offers simple, 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 became an immediate sensation in Milwaukee, garnering four stars and consistent recognition as the city’s best Italian restaurant. Ristorante Bartolotta drew national attention in 2006 when it was awarded the DiRoNA Award from Distinguished Restaurants of North America.

In 1995, the company opened a second restaurant: Bartolotta's Lake Park Bistro, a spacious, brasserie-style restaurant, focusing on casual and authentic French cuisine. After Lake Park Bistro earned a four-star review, Joe became Milwaukee's first “eight-star general,” a restaurateur with two top-rated restaurants to his name. After receiving a DiRoNA award from Distinguished Restaurants of North America, Lake Park Bistro was recognized again in 2008 when Executive Chef Adam Siegel won the coveted James Beard Award for Best Chef Midwest.

Over the next two decades, The Bartolotta Restaurants added a variety of fine dining and casual concepts to its portfolio. Joe, Paul and The Bartolotta Restaurants family will continue to grow their lineup of distinguished Southeastern Wisconsin venues and look forward to potential expansion throughout the Midwest.

Find out more in this extensive 2014 interview by Jon Anne Willow for Milwaukee Magazine.

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."