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Kitchen Cousins
A look into Milwaukee restaurant offshoots

Second outposts of popular Milwaukee restaurants are popping up in distant locales. There was the short-lived involvement of Honeypie’s owners with a Chicago restaurant, whereas a Bartolotta boy (Paul) garnered a 2006 James Beard Award as executive chef at Las Vegas’ Bartolotta Ristorante di Mare. And then there are official associations, culinary exports with advertised ties to Milwaukee. But how do they stack up?

Graffito south
SURG Restaurant Group, owner of Ryan Braun’s Graffito on Water Street, opened this tony Palm Beach County, Fla., spinoff in January. “People that travel to that area are the richest in the world,” says SURG’s Omar Shaikh. “The menu is a little more upscale and not affiliated with a sports figure.” Why Wellington? SURG partner Mike Polaski owns a home nearby.

AJ Bombers
Travel Channel’s “Food Wars” puffed up the sails of this Milwaukee restaurant, and a new Madison location opened in October. “Our intention was to create that exact same feeling in Madison that we’re known for in Milwaukee,” owner Joe Sorge says. A block off State Street, the Madison spot is decidedly collegiate.

Mo’s: A Place for Steak
Johnny Vassallo, founder of Mo’s in Milwaukee, has opened locations in Indianapolis and, most recently, Houston, Texas. There, the menu is heavier on seafood, but slabs of steak overlap. Both the Milwaukee and Houston locations offer Kobe-style wagyu beef, but Houston offers, for $500, the whole domestic wagyu tenderloin carved tableside.

Compared to Downtown Milwaukee’s Kil@wat, the Vegas location, which opened in 2008, “has more of a resort and leisure feel,” says Gary Gentile, senior vice president of operations for Marcus Hotels & Resorts. Tucked into The Platinum Hotel and Spa on Flamingo Road, the fifth-floor eatery boasts mint-green carpeting with chocolate swirls and a view of the hotel pool. 

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