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I love Food. Cooking it. Eating it. Experiencing it. As a result, that's what this blog has evolved into: A journal of my gastronomical journeys abroad, as well as my culinary creativity at home. I hope you enjoy what I have to say, and I'd love to hear your comments... Cheers!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A Must-Have Meal in Milwaukee

Chef Paul Bartolotta has accomplished something that perhaps a superstar chef can only achieve in the Midwest: he has created a culinary empire that still feels like a family-run establishment. Maybe that's because... it is. Brother Joe still runs the flagship, Ristorante Bartolotta, in the leafy burg of Wauwatosa, and the spot's cozy confines make you feel as if you're walking into your grandma's house for Sunday dinner... that is, if your grandma had garlic, peppers, peasants, and assorted charcuterie hanging from the ceiling!... This welcoming homieness, of course, belies the fact that there is some seriously refined, albeit classic, Italian cooking going on here.

This time around, I started with the Affettato Misto di Prosciutto e Salumi alla Emiliana - an assortment of shaved prosciutto and other Italian cured artisan meats with traditional gnocco fritto. Mortadella. Sopresatta. Speck. It was all there, and the gnocchi fritto was an amazing addition to the plate, like mini-sweet rolls, all crunchy and chewy at the same time. A more than healthy portion of all the good stuff...

My entree was one of the two pasta dishes where the pasta is freshly made in-house: Ravioli di Magro al Burro Nociola Tartufato - house made ricotta and spinach ravioli, with Grana Padana and truffled butter. Melt in your mouth goodness. A classic example of how premium ingredients combined with back-of-the-house know-how makes for a transcendent presentation, even in its simplest form...

My favorite dessert is tiramisu, and ordering is always a calculated risk, seeing as how there a number of variations on this Italian classic. Knowing I was in the best of hands at Barotolotta, I splurged (having reveled in it before didn't hurt my chances either!). This is my personal gold standard for this dessert. Lots of creamy, custardy, fluffy goodness, tinged ever-so-slightly by a subtle coffee-amaretto highlight, and accented by a dusting of cocoa powder and powdered sugar. An absolutely ideal finisher to what is always a satisfying and sensational dining experience.

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