Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Bottega - Italian Cuisine in Napa

After biking our way through Calistoga and tasting plenty of wines during the day, we had a little recovery time before heading down to Yountville in time for our reservations at Michael Chiarello's Bottega.  When asking for Napa recommendations, this was one of Meghan's.  She knows California wine country well, and this was one of her top picks.

We arrived at Bottega a bit early for our reservation and were welcomed out onto their heated patio area for a drink.  There was a party next to us that had a great day tasting (including getting kicked out of a vineyard), and before we knew it they were joined by Top Chef alum Mike Isabella!  He is the blurry guy in the back of the photo below - I tried not to be too stalkerish, hence the bad photo!  He was in town tasting wines for his restaurants - not a bad way to travel!  After enjoying our cocktail and some very obvious people watching, our table was ready and we headed on in.

Cocktails (and Mike Isabella!)

Fancy Water Glass

The restaurant is large, but still warm and comforting.  Even during our mid-week visit the place was packed.  We quickly ordered two Quartinos of wine and were served a hearty bread with a garlicky olive oil for dipping.  The bread was so good that we had to order more to eat with our entrees!

Montebruna, Barbera d'Asti, Braida, Piemonte Italy
Breaking Bread
Looking over the menu, each of the dishes sounded better than the next.  Looking around the dining room only made it harder - each dish that went by was visually interesting and smelled even better!  Chiarello really has perfected the "micro-Italian" cuisine.  Luckily, we got some first hand recommendations from the lovely couple next to us who were more than happy to recommend the Heirloom Tomato and Burrata salad, which Nick quickly ordered and was so happy he did.  In a world where (I have heard) tomatos have lost a little flavor, these were bursting with it!

Heirloom Tomato and Burrata
I went with the Hamachi special for an appetizer, which was perfectly cooked with a lovely sauce.  Both of these dishes only whetted our appetites for the rest of the meal.


For entrees, I was debating between a few options and ultimately went against my typical mushroom dish for an eggplant risotto.  This was a welcome change for me.  The risotto was light and flavorful and plated beautifully.   

However, as good as my dish was, I could not help be jealous of Nick's sweet corn potato gnocchi dish.  Everything about this entree was unbelievable.  As much as I hate ordering two of the same plates when we're out, I would have in this case - it was THAT good!  This was the perfect combination of salty and sweet.  The texture of the gnocchi was airy and they were lightly toasted, giving an extra bit of surprise to each mouthful.  The sweet corn flavor was delicious (and makes me wish it was summer right now!)

We were so full from the outstanding meal that neither of us had room for dessert - yes, THAT full (that second order of bread didn't help.)  After such a great meal, though, we did not miss the sweet ending.  Instead we enjoyed some simple cappuccino.

The servers were educated and never made us feel like we needed to move through our meal at a faster pace even though there was a wait.  Surprisingly, we did not break the bank of the meal (the more expensive entree was $22), and given the location and the celebrity chef I was expecting a considerably higher price point.  

Meghan sure did not disappoint with this recommendation, and I would certainly pass it along to anyone else looking for a great meal in Napa Valley.

Bottega on Urbanspoon


  1. Oh, heirloom tomatoes, how I miss you! This was one of the places I really wanted to try when I was in Napa this past summer -- but between Ad Hoc and others, we didn't make it. Next time!

  2. I would totally take a stalkerish pic of Mike Isabella too haha. He's one of my favorite contestants on Top Chef!

  3. Yummmm. . . I am so hungry this morning, and everything looks amazing!

  4. Wow. Can I just have your whole meal? Love your celeb sighting! Would love some of that Barbera and the tomatoes with burrata right now!

  5. oh man, what a meal!! everything looks absolutely amazing. way to make me hungry :)

  6. Both of those entrees look equally amazing in your pictures! So cool that Mike Isabella was there!

  7. this place looks and sounds so amazing. love the mike isabella sighting.

  8. hey thanks for sharing your experience about this restaurant and it sounds pretty good.

    For Italian restaurant in Dubai visit: Italian Restaurants in Dubai


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