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, 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."
Setting The Table For Growth
1993: Ristorante Bartolotta Opens
Rustic Italian cooking of Central and Northern Italy, featuring handmade pastas and a chef’s seasonal menu.
Awards & Accolades: DiRoNA award winner, Rated 4 stars, Milwaukee’s best Italian
1995: Lake Park Bistro Opens
Classic French with stunning views of Lake Michigan.
Awards & Accolades: DiRoNA award winner, Rated 4 stars, Milwaukee’s most romantic restaurant
1999: Mr. B’s Steakhouse Opens
Unique 1100-degree wood-burning oven ensures juicy steaks with caramelized, buttery crust.
Awards & Accolades: DiRoNA award winner, Rated 3 ½ stars, Milwaukee’s best steakhouse
2003: Pizzeria Piccola (Wauwatosa) Opens
Authentic, thin-crust Neapolitan pizzas baked to perfection in a wood burning oven.
2004: Bacchus Opens
Contemporary American cuisine with fresh, seasonal ingredients. Sleek setting with a big-city feel and beautiful views of Lake Michigan.
Awards & Accolades: Rated 4 stars, Milwaukee’s best wine list
Bartolotta Catering & Events Company established, ultimately introducing Pier Wisconsin and The Grain Exchange as Milwaukee’s most impressive venues with delicious menus.
2006: Bartolotta Catering at Discovery World offers stunning views of Milwaukee’s lakefront and the city’s skyline with flexible indoor and outdoor spaces anchored by four-star cuisine.
2009: Northpoint Custard (Bradford Beach) Opens
The city’s best frozen custard and burgers served from May to September along Bradford Beach.
Partnership established with SSP America at Mitchell International Airport to open Nonna’s (Concourse D), Northpoint Custard (Main Terminal) and Pizzeria Piccola (Concourse C).
The Grain Exchange, the most recently introduced Bartolotta Catering & Events venue, is a nearly 10,000 sq. ft. space with elegant and grandiose décor located in downtown Milwaukee’s historic Mackie Building.
2010: Harbor House Opens
Harbor House, a Bartolotta-managed property established through a partnership with Michael Cudahy, offers daily fresh fish and a raw bar. The New England-style seafood restaurant is set on the shores of Lake Michigan in downtown Milwaukee.
Awards & Accolades: Milwaukee’s best view & seafood restaurant
2011: The Rumpus Room Opens
Traditional, European-inspired gastro pub with unique pub fare, the city’s largest beer, wine and spirits menu and a modern-meets-vintage, steampunk feel.
Awards & Accolades: Milwaukee’s best new bar
2012: Joey Gerard's - A Bartolotta Supper Club Opens in Greendale and Mequon
Joey Gerard’s puts a modern spin on the classic supper club in the heart of historic Greendale and along the Milwaukee River in Mequon. The menu features comfort food and classic cocktails at their finest.
2014: Miss Beverly's Deluxe Barbeque and Downtown Kitchen Open
Miss Beverly's offers barbequed pork and ribs, beef brisket, fried chicken, and traditional sides in a fast casual setting. Downtown Kitchen is the go-to gathering place for breakfast, lunch, meetings and more in the U.S. Bank Center in downtown Milwaukee.
2016: Bartolotta Catering and Events takes over event and restaurant operations at Milwaukee's Italian Community Center. Read more details here.
2017: Joe and Paul Bartolotta selected as semi-finalists for the James Beard Foundation award for Outstanding Restaurateur.