Paul is the chef and owner of the Milwaukee restaurants, Ristorante Bartolotta, Bartolotta’s Lake Park Bistro, Mr. B’s – A Bartolotta Steakhouse, and Bacchus – A Bartolotta Restaurant, and Bartolotta at the Wynn Las Vegas.
If I knew this was really it my last meal! — then with God’s permission (and Melanie’s OK, of course), I would squeeze in two last meals, one lunch and one dinner. They would be about the people — both living and dead — who are important in my heart and to whom I have a genuine debt of gratitude.
When I was a boy, my father would take me down to the seafood markets on Brady Street in Milwaukee. He would buy all this seafood and spend the whole weekend cooking. We never had access to the Mediterranean seafood that I now do, so for the last lunch, I would treat them to Ligurian octopus salad, a mountain of boiled langoustines (I want my family to taste “the best langoustine on the planet,” which I discovered only after both my mother and father passed away), and lastly, spaghetti with clams, which was one of my mom and dad’s favorite dishes.
There is nothing quite like being on a sailboat in the Mediterranean, eating seafood. I had always hoped to treat my parents, my brother, Joe, and my two sisters, Maria and Felicia, to this magical experience. This would be my chance.
Falaghina, Falaghina, and some more Falaghina. That would be followed by a nap, up on deck, snuggling with my wife and daughter in my arms, with the cool breeze of the Mediterranean passing over us and the sea gently rocking us to sleep.
My immediate family and their families. I would like my mother and father to see how all their children grandchildren have grown up. I know they would be so proud.
My wife, Robbi, who is the real chef of our household, my daughter, Giulia, and me. We would do all the cooking as a family, as is our custom, and as it should be.
Fettunta (grilled Tuscan bread drizzled with Paolo Pasquali’s super premium olive oil), the best salumi in Italy (Culatello di Zibello, Salame di Felino, Prosciutto Toscano del Contadino, Mortadella di Bologna, Cicciolata di Parma, Coppa Piacentina, Finocchiona, and Rigatino Toscano) with Piadine Romagnolo (Romagna flatbread), tajerin con tartufo bianco (thin Piedmontese ribbon pasta with white truffle), tortellini al Ragú, fiorentina di Chianina alla griglia (grilled Chianina beef porterhouse steaks), costole di maiale alla griglia (grilled fresh pork ribs with garlic and rosemary), scotta ditto d’agnello alla griglia (grilled baby lamb chops with garlic and rosemary), piccione al forno a legna (wood-roasted squabs), funghi porcini trifolati (porcini mushrooms), patate arrosto (roast potatoes), frutta, gelati, sorbetti, e granite.
A hilltop town just outside Montalcino. We’d eat at a dining table nested beneath a rustic pergola covered in vines and overlooking the bucolic valley and abbey below. We would begin to nibble in late afternoon while cooking, lighting the candles out on the pergola table just before sunset.
We would imbibe on our favorite bubbles, Champagne Gosset, all afternoon while cooking. At dinner we would drink a fun assortment of great mature vintages of Barolo, Barbaresco, Chianti, and lots of Brunello di Montalcino. And near the end of the night, most likely just before sunrise, we would sip a most delicious antique Madeira and illycaffè espresso.
Yes, the music of human voices. Everyone telling stories, talking over each other all night long, chuckling and laughing, with the backdrop of the crackling wood-fired grills, the sounds of Italian countryside at night, and the Gregorian chants echoing up from the abbey below.
Everyone from lunch would also be present at dinner along with all my extended family. I would also want the chefs and managers who have made and served my food throughout the years to have the night off, and I would cook for them!
April 24th, 2012 11:30 am
Tags: Barbaresco, Barolo, Brunello, celebrities, Champagne, chefs, Chianti, Chicago, Falaghina, Gregorian Chants, illy, Iron Chef, Italian, Italian Food, James Beard, langoustines, Las Vegas chef, Last suppers, Mediterranean, Milwaukee, Montalcino, pasta, Paul Bartolotta, salumi, seafood, spaghetti, Spiagga, Top Chef, Wynn Las Vegas.