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DISH OF THE MONTH: Sourcing Elegance


February 2017

Photo by David Szymanski

When Ristorante Bartolotta opened its doors nearly 25 years ago, many Milwaukeeans flocked to the Tuscan-charmed restaurant in search of spaghetti and meatballs, says Jana Michaelis, creative director of The Bartolotta Restaurants. “People couldn’t fathom that Italian food was this elegant, rustic thing,” she adds.

But the restaurant’s popularity grew (and grew, and grew), and authentic, Italian-inspired dishes, like the farro and seafood salad pictured here, continue to populate the ever-evolving menu. Executive chef Juan Urbieta says the salad’s origin hails from the central-eastern coast of Italy, where fresh seafood is abundant. He takes great care in sourcing high-quality, flavor-packed ingredients, and the dish’s not-so-subtle stars — the wild-caught prawns — are flown in from the Patagonian region of Argentina. “They’re tender, plump, juicy (and) have that true wild flavor,” Urbieta enthuses. Tender octopus imported from Portugal and Spain and buttery calamari sourced domestically from a coastal town in Massachusetts complete the salad’s seafood trio.

Preparation is straightforward: The seafood is blanched or grilled; the farro — a hearty winter grain — is boiled for 20 minutes and set over a bed of arugula; and the dish is then dressed in olive oil and lemon juice. 7616 W. State St., Wauwatosa, (414) 771-7910,


This story ran in the February 2017 issue of: