Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Bottega Ristorante - My Favorite Italian Restaurant To Date (Yountville, CA)


Bottega Ristorante

When J, Umma, and I were discussing which restaurant to visit during our separate trips up to my beloved Nor Cal (Me, visiting my Alma Mater: UC Davis, and visiting the folks in Cowtown), the initial thought was TK's Ad Hoc. However, Bottega was never far off my mind, especially after watching Tyler Florence express his love for Chiarello's Egg and Pork Belly Confit on the Food Network show "The Best Thing I Ever Ate." After having issues securing a reservation for Ad Hoc, I was able to snag one at Bottega.


Bottega Ristorante

After touring the UCD Campus on its annual Picnic Day and going wine tasting (along with buying 2 cases of wine) with two of my former College roommates, we made our way to Yountville for some good eats. My friends and I met up with J & Umma and were ready to pounce on the food!

Bread w/ sea salt and oilve oil

Bread w/ Salt and Olive Oil

Those were some pretty tasty bread: warm and flavorful. We must have gone through 5-6 loaves of them, as we used it to also sop up those tasty sauces ahead....

Green Egg & HamGreen Egg & Ham

Green Eggs and Ham - Panko Crusted Soft Boiled Egg, Green Asparagus, Pecorino cheese pudding

Sadly, the Egg and Pork Belly Confit dish is seasonal and won't appear on the menu until the 2nd week of July, thus we ordered the Green Eggs and Ham instead. Honestly, definitely not a bad backup choice. Here we have a soft boiled egg, crusted in Japanese panko, and deep fried to perfection, yet the yolk remains runny. Pretty friggin amazing if you ask me. Along with egg, we have some perfectly cooked asparagus, matched with a Pecorino cheese pudding. Sprinkled on top of the dish were deep fried prosciutto bits. Fantastic!

Burrata Creamy mozzarella burrata with artichoke two ways, lemon braised and crispy

Burrata - Creamy mozzarella burrata with artichoke two ways, lemon braised and crispy

As some of you readers know, I'm not usually interested in cheese, but burrata is one of my favorites and I enjoyed the preparation of the dish. Here you have a generous portion of burrata sandwiched between a lemon braised artichokes on the bottom, and crispy artichokes on top. I enjoyed the texture contrast from the two preparations of artichoke and the creamy finish of the burrata. Very nice.

Organic Prosciutto “house cured”, pasta fritta, LambruscoOrganic Prosciutto “house cured”, pasta fritta, Lambrusco

Organic Prosciutto “house cured”, pasta fritta, Lambrusco

Usually, I'd never order this dish, as it contains fried dough, which I truly dislike. However, I admit it was quite delicious. Here we have the fried dough (pasta fritta), our wonderful server Al (Ask for Al if you ever visit Bottega, he was a blast, in addition to being knowledgeable!) told us to make a hole in the fritta, put the mango inside it, then wrap the prosciutto around the pasta fritta and finally, dip the creation into the lambrusco sauce (made with Tuscan wine grapes). The sweetness of the mango, plus the salty prosciutto really masked the pasta fritta, which for me, was a good thing. An unexpected tasty dish.

Polenta Under Glass, caramelized wild mushrooms, balsamic game saucePolenta Under Glass, caramelized wild mushrooms, balsamic game saucePolenta Under Glass, caramelized wild mushrooms, balsamic game saucePolenta Under Glass, caramelized wild mushrooms, balsamic game saucePolenta Under Glass, caramelized wild mushrooms, balsamic game sauce

Polenta Under Glass - caramelized wild mushrooms, balsamic game sauce

Caramelized wild mushroom on top of creamy polenta, can it get any better? I just loved this dish, though the balsamic game sauce made the dish slightly on the salty side. Regardless, for me, I'd order this again! I'm a sucker for any polenta dish.

As we finished our 4 appetizers, we can move onto the pasta dishes.

Risotto del Giorno A/Q

Risotto del Giorno (Risotto of the Day) - Mushroom Risotto with Breaded Veal

We went with the risotto of the day, and on this particular day it was the creamy mushroom risotto with breaded veal steak. Delicious, absolutely delicious! I loved the cream mushroom risotto, but I loved the crispy veal steak even more. Just a fantastic marriage of flavors and texture. I don't think I'm quite the risotto slut like kevinEats, but I'm sure I could learn!

Garganelli, tomato braised Sonoma rabbit sugo, wild mushrooms & ricotta

Garganelli - tomato braised Sonoma rabbit sugo, wild mushrooms & ricotta

First, before even getting a shot in, Al instructed us to taste the ricotta. Fresh, creamy, and damn, I was worried my pictures would be ruined! Not to worry, this dish tasted better than it looked. As mentioned in my previous post at Toque, I have a keen interest in eating our "Thumper" friend, and the rabbit was cooked wonderfully in the tomato based sauce. The pasta was cooked al dente, the sauce flavorful, the meat tender. What could be better? You can bet we used the bread to sop up the leftover sauce.

Crispy Potato Gnocchi, english pea & tallegio fonduta, early spring vegetables, prosciutto crisp

Crispy Potato Gnocchi - English pea & tallegio fonduta, early spring vegetables, prosciutto crisp

I heard some good things about the crispy potato gnocchi going in and it certainly didn't disappoint. However, the thing that made this particular dish shine was the English pea sauce. If I had my way, I'd get a bowl of the sauce with a loaf of the warm bread. I'd be content! I loved the texture of the gnocci itself, one of the best preparation of gnocchi I've ever had!

Now, onto 5 different main courses!

Adriatic Seafood Brodetto

Adriatic Seafood Brodetto - monkfish, mussels, rock cod fresh Monterey calamari, forno-confit tomato broth, olive oil-crouton, paprika-saffron rouille

We first started off with the seafood stew, which were filled with wonderful pieces of monkfish, rock cod, etc. I enjoyed this dish, and in the end, we all went to town using the bread to soak up the wonderful seafood broth.

Jar of Heirloom applesauceCrispy Pork Osso Buco Confit with Grape Mosto Cotto & a jar of Heirloom applesauce

Crispy Pork Osso Buco Confit with Grape Mosto Cotto & a jar of Heirloom applesauce

The pork osso buco was fried to a perfect crisp and paired beautifully with the jar of heirloom applesauce. Did the osso buco taste better than it looks? I'm not sure, but I'm pretty sure my buddy Morgan would agree with that, as I'm pretty sure it was his favorite dish of the night.

truffle-parmiggiano friesPiedmontese Beef Rib-Eye sherry vinegar-honey glazed shallots

Piedmontese Beef Rib-Eye sherry vinegar-honey glazed shallots with truffle-parmiggiano fries

Perfectly cooked rib eye (we went with rare plus) with some damn tasty truffle parmiggiano fries, do I really need to explain how good it tasted? No, I didn't think so. Get it! Or heck, if you don't eat meat, then just order a side of truffle parmiggiano fries for $6. Trust me.

Crazy Chicken

"Crazy Chicken" with a side of Arugula and Tomato Salad.

Honestly, for the life of me, I cannot remember what was so "crazy" about the crazy chicken. I remember Al was saying something wrapped this and that, but I have no idea what it was other than the fact this dish was quite pedestrian compared to everything else we had during the night. Was it bad? No. Was it tasty? Ya, it was good. Was it memorable? Definitely not.

Confit of Half Duck mostarda di frutta, wild arugula, pomegranate salad, red wine duck jusConfit of Half Duck mostarda di frutta, wild arugula, pomegranate salad, red wine duck jus

Confit of Half Duck - mostarda di frutta, wild arugula, pomegranate salad, red wine duck jus

I'll save the best for last. I don't want to overhype Bottega or their duck confit, and pardon my French, but FUCK this was good. That is all.

Finally, onto my favorite part of this meal the dessert. Also, it was around this time when David Beckham, his wife Posh Spice, and their 3 kids showed up to the restaurant and had a seat close to us. First thing on my mind, "dammit, can I shoot the food?" Thankfully, our awesome server Al used himself as a shield and that minor crisis was averted.


Zeppole - meyer lemon curd, black and blueberry earl grey fruit conserva

As mentioned above, I don't like fried dough or fried desserts. Churros, donuts, etc, eh..I'm just not a fan, sorry. In fact, the only donut that has won over my heart was the creme brulee donut at Doughnut Plant in NYC. While I didn't love the zeppole, it was damn tasty with the meyer lemon curd. The zeppole was fried, yet not too oily, and the tartness from the meyer lemon sauce knocked out some of the oily texture that I usually despise. I could eat this again....

Carnaroli Riso Budino

Carnaroli Riso Budino - forno roasted strawberries, sweet crostini, basil vanilla anglaise

I'll admit, like the crazy chicken, I've forgotten about this dish other than loving the strawberries with the basil vanilla combination. The flavor reminded me of the basil strawberry dessert I had at Toque in Montreal. I never knew basil and strawberry are so compatible!

Chocolate Bourbon Tortino

Chocolate Bourbon Tortino - banana brulee, roasted banana gelato, milk chocolate peanut butter bar

Best dessert of the night! I loved the banana brulee. I really enjoyed the banana gelato and chocolate tart combination. And yes, I even liked the milk chocolate peanut butter bar (not a fan of peanut butter usually)! Definitely one of the bigger hits of the table as we all enjoyed this one the most!


Patio at Bottega Ristorante

All in all, what a fantastic dinner experience at Bottega. I had high hopes going in and it exceeded what I had imagined. The food was fantastic, the service was top notch, the prices were fair, and hell, we saw David Beckham. I can't wait to go back and try the Egg and Pork Belly Confit in July while I load up on some more wine down the street. Michael Chiarello definitely impressed me with his cooking and the fact he's at his restaurant 6 nights a week. I'm trying to decide if Bottega topped my epic meal at Eleven Madison Park, but it's definitely up there. Try it out when you're up in Yountville. I don't think you'll be disappointed!

Group Shot

Group Shot (From Top Left: Morgan, Me, Chef Chiarello, Benny, Julian, Christine) Courtesy of djjewelz

Bottega Ristorante
6525 Washington Street
Yountville, CA 94599-1300
(707) 945-1050
Official Website

Bottega Napa Valley Ristorante in San Francisco on Fooddigger


Anna A. said...

Can i come with you next Aggie picnic day? ;) I love thumper too, rabbit eaters unite!

Pinoy Panda said...

Is it July yet? That was an excellet post D, even with the expletives. LOL. And thanks for getting my cookbook signed, so sweet of y'all.

food je t'aime said...

Haha I like how your server used himself as a shield. I also love Thumper, burrata, and anything served in a Jar. Looks good!

MyLastBite said...

I went there a few months ago. LOVED LOVED LOVED the Garganelli - tomato braised Sonoma rabbit sugo, wild mushrooms & ricotta!!!

Diana said...

Posh Spice, gnocchi, duck confit and a delicious chocolate dessert?!? Gaaaah I'm jealous! What a night!

weezermonkey said...

This looks outstanding. Love the group pic. :)

choisauce said...

echoing pinoy panda, is it july yet?? :( I forgot how amazingly delicious this dinner was. thanks for the reminding me *stomach growl*. panda fury, back again in july! egg and pork belly confit will be OURS!! *muhahahaha* *evil laugh* cant wait! :D

nelehelen said...

wow that meal looks MASSIVE and delicious! i must definitely try to score a reservation here during my trip up north!

hotpinkmanolo said...

Oh my god! That just looks AMAZING!! Your pics are beautiful.

PS I LOVE burrata cheese too!! Like probably in a REALLY unhealthy way... :/

kevinEats said...

Duck confit slut. ;)

Gastronomer said...

You kids went to town! You've sold me on this place. Next time!

Bonnibella said...

You guys did order a lot, I am really interested in trying his percorino budino. Invite me next time!

Kung Food Panda said...

Anna: I'll be back at Picnic Day next year. Are you coming from Portland? And yes, Thumper is tasty! :)

Remil: Can't wait to go back with the Clan again! This time we'll have more people from my side! Gotta use some profanity to bring in the readers! LOL

Christina: Our server was awesome! And the meal was quite delicious!

Jo: I'm glad you went and tried some of those dishes. Pretty damn delicious!

Diana: Definitely an awesome night! Great food and even better company!

Weezermonkey: Yup, Chiarello definitely made his rounds during the night. Fun times!

Kung Food Panda said...

Umma Choisauce: At least 2 orders of that pork belly confit right? :)

Helen: You must check it out. Let me know what you thought of the meal when you go!

Christina: Thanks! :) When you're eating a meal like this, you can't think healthy or calories. Just let the good times roll!

Kevin: I could live with that!

Cathy: Definitely a must visit!

Bonnie: July, 3rd week. After Chicago. Can you still eat? :P

Nomsnotbombs said...

I am wiping the drool off my face after reading this one. Great post and beautiful pics! Mmmm burrata...

Morgan said...

So tell me what you want, what you really really want.
I wanna, I wanna, I wanna, I wanna, I wanna really really really want a pork belly confit

bagnatic said...

i've been getting bad ideas from "the best thing i ever ate"...not like i need another show to convince me that i need to eat more :) those truffle fries look amazing btw.

Kung Food Panda said...

Misty: Hahaha! It was surely one of my favorite meals of the year, easily top 3! You should check it out!

Morg: Hahaha...and we will. Sometime in July when I get back from Chicago.

Amy: Some stuff on that show were OK, but I have to say, Bottega was pretty damn good!

Ravenous Couple said...

chiarello is a pretty cool dude huh?

Kung Food Panda said...

Hong: I'd say so! I can't wait to go back in July!

burumun said...

Wait, which one was the dish that you said was on the Best Thing I Ever Ate? Did you get to try that?

Kung Food Panda said...

Actually the one on TV was called "Bacon & Eggs." It's seasonal and will be back in July