Business Profile
  • Northeast Wisconsin
  • April 2012
Written by 

Johnathan’s Italian Bistro

I had the great pleasure of getting to enjoy Johnathan’s Italian Bistro for dinner for the restaurant spotlight this month. I must say I was very excited to write this article after the owners, Kerry and Rick Gasman, told me about their new chef, Kevin Woods, who came from Chicago restaurant, Alinea. Kerry said Kevin revamped their menu to feature a whole new flavor profile that sets Johnathan’s apart from any other restaurant.

From the moment you walk into Johnathan’s, you feel at home with the warming fireplace and comforting colors. On select nights, you also will experience great live music to compliment your meal or cocktail at the bar. I must admit that one of my favorite things is their made-from-scratch Old-Fashioned or $10 bottomless wine. I am also a VIP club member, so I earn points for every dollar I spend and am able to take advantage of nightly specials from “buy one, get one free” appetizers to half-price bottles of wine. In fact, I love Johnathan’s so much that I have already earned 250 points from previous meals and received $25 off our dinner!

When we walked into Johnathan’s, we received a warm welcome from the maître d’ who escorted us to our seats and gave us the choice of a table or booth. We requested the booth because we enjoy the nice, private feel during our meal. We used our VIP card to get a buy one, get one free appetizer to accompany our $10 bottomless wine. In this instance we enjoyed a cooling, pear-tasting chardonnay. For the appetizers we chose the caprese napoleon and bacon-wrapped shrimp.

The caprese napoleon came out in a beautiful tower of fresh mozzarella and basil with perfectly lightly fried tempura tomato, featuring their delicious house-made pesto and tangy yet sweet balsamic reduction. This almost looked too pretty to eat … almost. I did not regret ruining this work of art!

The bacon-wrapped shrimp did not disappoint, with large, plump, perfectly cooked shrimp wrapped in applewood smoked bacon. It offered a textural difference with a balance in flavors. The espresso glaze to top it off was the perfect complement! We not only finished all of our appetizers, but also enjoyed pieces of the fresh white and multigrain bread with delicious 12 year balsamic vinegar and fresh olive oil from The Olive Cellar in Appleton.

I was torn between ordering the fresh, house-made pasta or gnocchi for my meal. After a tough, internal debate, I decided on the house-made ricotta gnocchi. These delicious ovals of potato and ricotta literally melted in my mouth. My gnocchi was accompanied with chicken and, in my case, I chose the vegetarian chicken option. Johnathan’s features vegetarian meat replacements with any meal as well as many organic options and all-natural beef. The sauce was a spicy, fresh mozzarella marinara accompanied with red chilies. The spice level offered a perfect explosion of flavor.

My guest ordered their famous organic salmon caprese. The salmon was grilled to perfection and the crispness of the caprese salad, featuring vine-ripened tomatoes with fresh mozzarella and basil, went great with the delicious outdoor grill flavor. The salmon was cooked perfectly, flaked apart with the fork and melted in his mouth. Again, we both cleared our plates and still ordered dessert.

It would not be an Italian meal without ordering my favorite dessert, tiramisu! Johnathan’s tiramisu is by far the best I have ever had. They make this delicious, creamy, rich dessert in-house. All I can say is there is nothing to say while you eat their tiramisu because it is too good to talk between bites. Yum!

Johnathan’s is not just a restaurant, as it now offers cooking classes on a monthly basis along with “culinary team-building opportunities. At this event, groups of 10 to 100 work together at cooking stations under the tutelage of professional chefs to create a gourmet meal together. Each event is custom designed for each client. The common theme for all of the events is hands-on/interactive cooking alongside professional chefs. Their cooking parties and culinary team-building events can take on many flavors and never get stale.

Following are two different concepts:

Small plates – A roving, social, non-stop feast of different textures and flavors. More like a cocktail party with heavy hors d’oeuvres. Guests will create a number of smaller dishes and fill up while they talk, eat, drink and cook. Ideal for networking, large groups, client entertaining and active teams on the go.

The sit down dinner – A warm, peaceful, yet lively gathering. The sit down dinner is a little more intimate and formal. This type of event works well for smaller groups or those that work together. After the group works together to make the food, they pull up chairs to enjoy the meal that was created. The event should last about three hours and begin with casual mingling, while guests gather, sip wine and nibble artisan cheese. After everyone has arrived, the hosts will do some introductions, bring out the chefs and provide a brief orientation. Cooking stations will have been prepared for each dish, where all the ingredients are ready, and a chef is standing by to instruct and encourage. The cooking, which is very interactive and fun, lasts about one hour. After that, the guests take their seats or mingle, and enjoy the feast they have created. They offer as many courses (stations) as you would like.

Also, think of Johnathan’s for your next event. Their new banquet area seats up to 250 people with an all-inclusive price including appetizers, dinner, dessert, domestic beer and wine. Call for pricing.

See you at happy hour for some great specials!

Johnathan’s Italian Bistro

1910 N. Casaloma Dr.

Appleton, WI 54913


Open Monday-Saturday, 11am to 10pm

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