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 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. Since it's 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, casual and catering concepts to its portfolio. The Bartolotta Restaurants family will continue to offer exceptional cuisine and service through their lineup of distinguished venues in Southeastern Wisconsin, and look forward to potential expansion beyond.
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." In 2020, Paul was nominated as a finalist in this category.