WAUKESHA — Acclaimed
restauranteur Joe Bartolotta, who elevated dining in
Milwaukee, died at age 60 on Monday.
According to a Tuesday statement from The Bartolotta
Restaurants, Bartolotta died “peacefully in his sleep
with a smile on his face ... .”
Bartolotta was coowner and president of The Bartolotta
“Joe is beloved by the Milwaukee community for his
hospitality heart, generosity and love of all,” reads
the statement, which goes on to say the family asks for
privacy at this time, but will make more information
available in the future.
He started The Bartolotta Restaurants with his brother
Paul, who serves as chef and co-owner.
According to the company’s website, Bartolotta grew up
in Wauwatosa and spent time working in restaurants in
New York before returning to his hometown. Joe and Paul
opened Ristorante Bartolotta, their first restaurant, in
Wauwatosa in 1993.
Ristorante Bartolotta received a DiRoNA Award from
Distinguished Restaurants of North America and has been
The Lake Park Bistro followed in 1995, and also received
four-star success with the DiRoNA Award from
Distinguished Restaurants of North America. In addition,
Executive Chef Adam Siegel won the James Beard Award for
Best Chef Midwest in 2008 for his work at Lake Park
Bistro. In 1999, The Bartolotta Restaurants opened an
Italian-style steakhouse, Mr. B’s, in Brookfield, which
has won numerous awards.
In 2004, Joe Bartolotta opened Bacchus, A Bartolotta
Restaurant, located in the historic Cudahy Tower. Later,
The Bartolotta Restaurants launched another successful
venture, Bartolotta Catering & Events.
The brothers also have a partnership with Milwaukee
County parks and operated Northpoint Custard for several
years, as well as casual pizza and pasta restaurant
Nonna’s at Mitchell International Airport. The Rumpus
Room, a Europeaninspired gastropub, opened in October
2011 in downtown Milwaukee, and Joey Gerard’s — A
Bartolotta Supper Club, opened in Greendale in August
2012 and in Mequon in October 2012. Miss Beverly’s
Deluxe BBQ opened in Greendale in July 2014, and
Downtown Kitchen opened in the US Bank Center in
downtown Milwaukee in September 2014.
The Bartolotta Restaurants also have a philanthropic
Joe Bartolotta sat on the boards of many local
organizations, including the MATC Advisory Board for
Culinary Arts, VISIT Milwaukee and UW-Stout Hospitality.
Former Gov. Scott Walker also appointed him to the
Wisconsin Center District Board.