Not being much of a steak person, I rarely dine at steakhouses. But I do enjoy a good steak and I had visited Mr. B's: A Bartolotta Steakhouse once in its former location on 177th and Capitol Drive in Brookfield. But, really, it's not in a neighborhood I get to much.
Last week, the Bartolotta steakhouse moved west a few blocks to the old Agave building at 18380 W. Capitol Dr. Bartolotta's John Wise spotted me at a table in the corner near the new patio and offered to show me around a bit.
Sounds like folks familiar with Agave will definitely find this space familiar, yet transformed. The outdoor dining space is new and spacious and looks like it will be a great place to eat once the weather is trustworthier.
The old bar has been cut in half, with a wall added along the back of the bar. While this shrinks the bar in this space, Wise noted that the old Mr. B's didn't really have a dedicated bar space and this definitely is a change. So is the greatly expanded kitchen -- two wood-fired ovens are required to handle the demand at the new location -- which isn't exactly open, but with a giant window is clearly visible to most diners.
We sampled a couple appetizers, including the especially delicious crispy shrimp ($13.95), which had about seven shrimp wrapped tightly in egg roll skins and fried. They were crunchy and satisfying. A pair of crab cakes ($12.95) was also delicious, with copious lump crab.
I heartily recommend the green bean and Gorgonzola salad ($9.95), which is exactly what it sounds like: crisp haricot verts with fresh Gorgonzola -- not to worry, this ain't your smelly supermarket cheese, instead subtle and creamy -- and a light dressing.
When the steak cart wheeled over, it created a conundrum, since there were so many alluring choices. In the end, my dining companion and I each selected combos that paired 6-ounce filets with (in my case) bacon wrapped scallops ($34.95) and in his, a tender piece of salmon ($35.90).
The steaks were cooked to perfection and my only complaint about the scallops was that they were too rich. But that was my choice, so I fault no one but myself for having eyes bigger than my stomach.
We paired all these dishes with a bottle of Masi Valpolicella ($29).
A flourless chocolate cake with a scoop of gelato ($7.95) and a single espresso ($3) capped the meal, which was satisfying and tasty and presented in a warm, welcoming environment. I'm not a connoisseur of steakhouses, but this is one I enjoyed enough that I just might start to frequent that neighborhood a bit more.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.