By Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host Published Apr 02, 2024 at 11:01 AM

It’s as important as ever to support the amazing collection of local restaurants that we have in our beautiful city. And there’s no better way to do so than committing to patronize them throughout the year. To guide you on your journey, I’ve composed a list of 52 amazing restaurants. Try just one of these every week and you’ll have visited them all by the end of 2024.  View the full list OR download an abbreviated printable PDF file for your fridge or wallet.

Bacchus - A Bartolotta Restaurant
925 E. Wells St., (414) 765-1166
New American

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When Bacchus - A Bartolotta Restaurant first opened its doors in the former home of the Boulevard Inn, Milwaukee was on the cusp of a dining boom. More notable restaurants opened in 2004 than the city had seen in at least a decade, and they joined a cast of characters that included destination restaurants like Barossa, Coast, Moceans, Roots and Sanford, among others.

But Bacchus stood out from the crowd. It was lauded for its clean, modern feel and sleek decor. The bar and dining area were elegant and cozy, sporting 1940s vintage wood trim and shiny hardwood floors. Its menu included options like day boat halibut, rack of lamb and Maine lobster salad with cream sauce and radish sprouts. And its impressive floor-to-ceiling wine cabinet was stocked with about 230 bottles of wine.

It was hailed as a crowning achievement for the Bartolotta Restaurants, which at that time included Ristorante Bartolotta; Lake Park Bistro; Mr. B’s, A Bartolotta Steakhouse; and Pizzeria Piccola (RIP).

It’s hard to believe it’s been four years since the Bartolotta Restaurants gave this longtime gem a welcoming redux. Now 20 years old, the fine dining establishment has been modernized just enough to make it feel welcoming and inclusive.

Currently, Bacchus's dinner offerings include three courses for $70. Guests can choose their courses from a menu of starters, entrees and desserts that change with the seasons.

Chef Nick Wirth has been at the helm of Bacchus for years; but his dishes feel modern and never stale. From bright fresh Yellowfin crudo to seared scallops or braised salmon; fish dishes always shine. Seasonal dishes like prosciutto-wrapped rabbit loin with chamomile jus push boundaries; and grilled Wagyu bavette steak comes alive when paired with intense Asian flavors.

Meanwhile, dessert at Bacchus is always a delight, whether it’s a fruit-based tarte or truffle-inspired composed dessert. And you can always count on the wine list to offer up something new and exciting.

Recommended: If you can, go for the ever-changing five-course chef’s tasting menu (can also be vegetarian).

Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host

Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club. 

When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.