By Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host Published Jan 20, 2014 at 11:11 AM

Even if you're paying close attention, it's sometimes difficult to keep up with the latest in food news here in Milwaukee. So, here's a taste of what's new and notable – including news about Bartolotta’s new project in the U.S. Bank Building, a feast to raise money for free French films, a Sturina Trotta wine dinner, new specials at the Iron Horse Hotel, a worthy evening of fund-raising at Meritage, and news about this year’s WMSE Rockabilly Chili competition.

Downtown offices to benefit from Bartolotta’s
Based on information obtained this past week, it looks like the Bartolotta Restaurants will take over the operation of the U.S. Bank Center’s public cafeteria, Lake View Market, this spring.

According to Bartolotta's, plans include a revamp of the space and addition of food vendors like a donut shop, a Northpoint Custard outlet and a Jewish-style deli.

The building is potentially the centerpiece of a growing cluster of offices, including under-construction and planned buildings for Northwestern Mutual and Irgens that could eventually total up to 15,000 workers. As part of the deal, Bartolotta’s would also supply catering to the offices in the building and cater events, such as galas and fundraisers, in the building's public spaces on the weekends.

Feast raises funds for Films in French
As a kick-off to the Festival of Films in French, which takes place Feb. 7-16, UWM will host a Moroccan-themed fundraising dinner at Chez Jacques, 1022 S. 1st St. on Monday, Feb. 3. The evening begins at 6 p.m. with a cash bar and social hour and culminates with a dinner that includes salade maison, poulet couscous (can also be made vegetarian) and glace moraccaine with dates. The cost, which includes wine is $75 per person (of which $35 is tax deductible). For more information, contact Dr. Richard Stone at (414) 351-4395.

During the Festival of Films in French, UWM will sponsor free showings of a variety of French films, including cult films of the 20th and 21st century, spanning the globe from France in World War I to modern-day Israel. The full schedule is available online.

Mason Street Grill to host Sturino Trotta Wine Dinner
Friday, Jan. 24, beginning at 6 p.m., Mason Street Grill, 425 Mason St., will welcome Sturina Trotta Winery owner, David Trotta Barne, for a five-course dinner celebrating their delectable limited edition wines.

Chef Weber's menu will feature Blue crab custard with a salt cod fritter, Garganelli Bolognese, glazed smoked Black Earth pork belly, free-range Strauss veal tenderloin with mushroom ragut, and honey crisp apple crepes.  Featured wines include Carneros 2008 Chardonnay, Santa Barbara 2005 Tesoro, Edna Valley 2006 Pinot Noir, Rutherford Cabernet and Moscato.

Dinner is $89 per person, which does not include tax and gratuity. For reservations, call (414) 298-3131 or emailing

Iron Horse Hotel adds new weekly specials
Smyth and Branded, located within the Iron Horse Hotel at 500 W. Florida St., have announced a series of new weekly specials to tempt your tastebuds. Specials include:

  • Tuesday Tastings – featuring local beer, wine and spirits tastings on the first Tuesday of every month in the Iron Horse Hotel lobby. Tastings will take place from 5 to 7:30 p.m.  The first tasting will take place on Tuesday, Feb. 4 and will feature brews from Milwaukee Brewing Company. On March 4, Great Lakes Distillery will sample locally made spirits and Mardi Gras-inspired cocktails.
  • Thursday Raid the Cellar has returned with half off all bottles of wine on the Smyth wine list, including the Wine Spectator-approved Reserve List.
  • Fish Taco Fridays will make you want to trade in your traditional fish fry for something different at Branded. The hotel’s new fish tacos, which will be available after 5 p.m. on Fridays, feature deep-fried battered Wisconsin blue gill tucked into a flour tortilla with slaw and Siracha aioli.
  • Savory  Sundays offer the opportunity to sample brand new additions to the Root 66 brunch menu, which is served at Smyth from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Meanwhile, all day long Branded will feature special green chile pork chilaquiles featuring fried corn chips tossed with green chile sauce, braised pork shoulder, pickled red onions, sour cream, queso fresco, cilantro, and two eggs any style.

Meritage hosts annual Stepping Stone Farms fundraiser
On Tuesday, Jan. 28, Meritage, 5921 W. Vliet St., hosts its annual fund raiser for Franksville’s Stepping Stone Farms. Get a first taste of the brand new winter menu, and Meritage will donate 20 percent of total food sales to the farm, which focuses on using the healing power of horses to assist Veterans, individuals with special needs and high risk youth.

For reservations, call (414) 479-0620. For more information about Stepping Stone Farms, visit their web site at

Warm up with Rockabilly Chili
WMSE’s Annual Rockabilly Chili Fundraiser has been expanded to include two levels of the MSOE University’s Kern Center this year, so there’s plenty of room for everyone. 

Join in on the fun Sunday, March 2, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., to experience chili from over 50 Milwaukee restaurants, cafes and caterers and vote for your favorites. Awards will be given to winners in five different categories: best meat, best vegetarian, most unique chili, best heat, and best vendor display/presentation.

Advance tickets are $12 and come with four chili sample tickets, while day-of tickets are $15 and come with two chili sample tickets. Children 10 and under are free. 

With expanded capacity, the non-profit station has also expanded entertainment options for the Milwaukee community to enjoy, including the participation of Milwaukee Fire Department (MFD) competitors, chili pepper races in the mold of Miller Park sausage races, a growing children’s area, and a live rockabilly band. Read more in Matt Mueller’s blog!

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.