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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Bottega Ristorante

Before the trip to Napa, I did some research and found sooo many amazing restaurants in that area, particularly Yountville. I wanted to go to The French Laundry as well, but it was definitely out of my price range at the moment. I decided to try Bottega, Michael Chiarello's restaurant. I used to watch him on Food Network and also watched him on Top Chef Masters. There's no doubt that he's a great chef and makes some amazing food.

Bottega Ristorante
6525 Washington St
Yountville, CA 94599
(707) 945-1050

Price: $$$

An excerpt taken from the Bottega website:
"Bottega means "workshop," a place where we can showcase signature bold Italian flavors with a refined twist. Our menu highlights the bounty of artisanal and house made ingredients, as well as local produce."

I was surprised to find out that Bottega was reasonably affordable so I became more determined to go. We had half day on Saturday to explore on our own so I suggested to my sister and cousins on going there for lunch. Since we didn't make a reservation we got there right when the doors opened at 11:30AM. The hostess was really friendly and informed us that they had some tables available. :)

They seated us right by the kitchen. You could see all the action in the kitchen. Cool! The room we were in was a little too dim for me though. The room next door had sunlight coming through and was much brighter.

They came around and poured us water and the waitress took our orders. I recommended everyone on trying the pasta because Chef Chiarello is always making fresh pasta on his shows. So I thought the pastas would be pretty awesome.

After we ordered we were given some bread. The bread was nice and warm and the garlic olive oil was a great pairing with it.

One of my cousins ordered the Monterey Calamari (crisped with Arborio rice flour and aioli nero) $10~ to start. The portion was pretty small... We were all getting hungry so it disappeared really quickly! It was basically like $1 for 1 piece of calamari...kinda pricey! Although it was really delicious. It was fried perfectly, with the squid still being super tender. The aioli was made with squid ink. It was black and looked really interesting. I really liked it! It was creamy and nothing like anything I've had before. It complimented the calamari very well. I liked it so much I even spread the remaining aioli on the bread! haha.

It was really hard to decide since I wanted to try everything...but for my main dish I ordered the Pan Roasted Potato Gnocchi (early spring vegetables, English pea fonduta & 11 month Valley Ford Montasio) $17~ I'm SO glad I ordered this. Intially I was hesitant because it had no meat in it. But I didn't miss the meat at all! The entire dish was perfect (minus the carrots which I gave away...since I don't like them...). The gnocchi was by far the best I've ever had. It had a great sear and slight crisp on the outside...soft and pillowy on the inside. The sauce/pea fonduta was amazing. The spring veggies were cooked to perfection, all retained a slight crunch in texture along with the soft gnocchi. And the melted cheese on top just added another depth of flavor. Montasio is a cheese made from cow's milk. It's got a hint of sharpness and has bold flavor. Wow! I wanted to lick the plate was amazing! This was by far my favorite dish of the day. It was even better than I could've expected.

One of my cousins ordered the Calabrian Sausage & Lemon Ricotta Tortellini (spicy broccoli rabe, tomato-pork jus & mosto oro olive oil) $16~ The plate was really colorful and pretty. The tortellini was cooked well and paired nicely with the broccoli rabe. I didn't really get the sausage or lemon in the dish though. I would say out of all the dishes that day, this was probably my least favorite just because it was more normal, not spectacular.

My other cousin got the Black Pepper Bucatini alla Carbonara (with soft cooked local hen egg, parmigiano crema, shaved asparagus & guanciale) $16~ Guanciale is an unsmoked Italian's name derived from Guancia which is Italian for 'cheek'. There were so many terms in the menu that I didn't recognize. So I had to look them up! haha. It was really good. The bucatini was cooked perfectly. Al dente! And the cream sauce was nice and rich. The runny egg on top looked sooo good! I liked this a lot.

This was my 2nd choice. My sister's bf got the House Made Rigatoni (tomato braised Sonoma rabbit sugo, wild mushrooms, house made ricotta) $17~ Sugo basically means "sauce". I love Rigatoni so this sounded really good. I was happier with my gnocchi though. haha. This was good as well. There were large chunks of rabbit meat in the sauce and it was really tender. The mushroom sauce was great and the ricotta made the sauce a little creamy. Again the pasta was cooked perfectly. It was a great dish.

My sister got the Red Wheat Linguine Bolognese (veal, pork & porcini mushroom sugo, rosemary, parmigiano reggiano) $18~ Perfect al dente pasta just like all the other dishes. The meat sauce had tons of meat in it. Normally most places don't have enough, this one actually had more meat than pasta! YUM!

This has been an amazing meal. The food was fantastic, with the gnocchi completely exceeding my expectations. The quality of the ingredients were super fresh and I thought the portion size of the pasta dishes were very reasonable. The service was also top notch. Our water glasses were refilled frequently and as soon as we finished the first batch of bread, they immediately brought more. The waitress was really nice and was able to answer some questions I had. I definitely recommend checking out Bottega when you are in Napa!! :)

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