Joe Bartolotta dies at age 60
Restauranteur put Milwaukee on culinary map

By Katherine Michalets

April 24, 2019

Joe Bartolotta
Submitted photo

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 Restaurants.

“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 highly regarded.

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 arm, Care-alotta.

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.