Napa Valley Marketplace Magazine Restaurant Review February 2009
By Dorothy and John Salmon
For Valentine’s Day, do you want a romantic place to gaze into your darling’s eyes, remember why you fell in love and bask in the warm glow of a lovely restaurant with great food and wine? If your answer is YES, then head to Yountville and spend the evening at Bottega Ristorante, Michael Chiarello’s newest gift to the world of fine food and wine. Bottega Ristorante is located at 6525 Washington Street in Yountville in the “you can’t miss it” beautiful brick V Marketplace. Bottega is at the rear of the front building across from NapaStyle. On your way in, you can stroll through NapaStyle and find unique items you can’t find anywhere else. If you are a native “Napkin” or have just lived here for many years, you know that Bottega is located where the historic Groezinger Winery was once a mainstay of Yountville. Call Bottega at (707) 945-1050 for reservations or find the restaurant online at: http://www.botteganapavalley.com
When we walked into Bottega, Chef/Owner Michael Chiarello was there to greet us and was clearly having a great time welcoming all of his friends from the “neighborhood.” He proudly announced that the locals of the Napa Valley had been showing up in droves to support his new effort ever since he opened just a short time ago. That’s one of the wonderful things about living here. We do support our own and Michael is one of us! Michael Chiarello is one of Napa Valley’s best-known and most popular chefs. Among other things, he made Tra Vigne one of the hottest restaurants in the Napa Valley. He writes cookbooks you can purchase at NapaStyle. He created the NapaStyle brand and retail stores along with Chiarello Family Vineyards. Michael’s latest television show, Easy Entertaining with Michael Chiarello, has won three daytime Emmy Awards and is broadcast daily on the Food Network.
You enter Bottega through a lovely outdoor seating area complete with two outdoor fireplaces. It’s a great after-work place to relax and kick back in a very hip and inviting setting. While it looks big from the outside, once you get inside it has a homey feel with its two distinct dining rooms. If you have 160 best friends, you can fill the place. To the rear of the hostess area is an exhibition kitchen and dining room. To the left is the bar with another dining room, which is where we were seated.
After congratulating Michael on his success, we began our adventure by ordering a $43 bottle of Frank Family Chardonnay (to honor our son Scott, who is National Sales Manager for the winery),broke into the crusty French bread with a parmesan-olive oil spread and ordered the Fritto Misto di Pesce ($10) that went very well with the wine. We studied the menu, which is divided into Stuzzichini (bites to share); Antipasti; Pasta; Secondi (main course); Contorni (vegetable side dishes); and Dessert and Cheese. This is a place to take your time and enjoy the taste, smell and feel of a crowded, happy place that exhibits the best of the Napa Valley.
Dorothy ordered the Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad with fried marcona almonds, sieved egg, pecorino and mixed with whole citrus vinaigrette ($8) that was unique and fabulous. John ordered the Polenta Under Glass with caramelized wild mushrooms and balsamic game sauce ($12). We both loved our choices!
Since Dorothy is from the northwest, she couldn’t resist ordering the garlic-roasted Dungeness crab ($28). It arrived in a large bowl with a whole carapace on top and the crab utensils that mean you are on your own for getting the crab legs out of their tough little shells. The crab was delicious and for anyone who eats too fast, this is the cure since you have to work for your dinner! John had the Seared Day Boat Scallops pink chickpea passatina and cauliflower agrodolce for $24. The scallops were perfect. Since we always take our job seriously, we ordered two desserts. Everything at Bottega is unique, fresh and interesting and the desserts certainly fit that description, and they are reasonably priced from $7 to $11. We tried the Torta di Riso (Arborio rice tart with Meyer lemon, huckleberry compote and marscarpone) ($8) and the Extra Virgin Olive Oil Cake with honey roasted apple butter and quince ice cream ($8).
We ended our romantic evening with a glass of 2004 Robert Pecota, Muscat Canelli, Passito, Napa Valley ($13). What a night!
Bottega’s lunch, dinner, dessert and wine menus are artful. Michael features many local Napa Valley wines that you might not find unless you frequent small tasting rooms, or happen to be on every Napa Valley wine list. He also carries a selection of Italian wines that are reasonably priced. Bottega is also open for lunch Thursday through Sunday from 11:30 to 2:30 p.m. Bottega’s dinner hours are Sunday through Thursday from 5:30 until 9:30 p.m.; Friday and Saturday from 5:30 until 10 p.m. The outdoor bar and covered lounge is open for late service on our beautiful Napa Valley days and nights.
Bottega serves bold, rustic and unique farm-to-table cuisine prepared to perfection with Napa Valley’s fresh produce, paired with Napa Valley’s best wines and Michael’s Italian flair. Michael incorporates his personal passion for living seasonally and sustainably into all of his businesses, from the products he designs, handpicks and tests for NapaStyle, to the earth-friendly farming practices he employs at Chiarello Family Vineyards, to the purveyors he supports as a chef/restaurateur.
We are sure that Bottega’s bar will become a hot place to hang out in Napa Valley and the restaurant will be one of the Valley’s favorites.
We recommend that you take your sweetheart there for a successful Valentine’s Day dinner or any other day you choose to celebrate! For sure, we will be back many times.
Zucchini and Basil Frittata
You can serve the frittata with toasts alongside, as the recipe describes, or you can serve the frittata wedges on the toast to make open-face sandwiches. Use this recipe as a template for other frittatas, with chopped cooked cauliflower, roasted red peppers, or sautéed mushrooms, for example. Serves: Serves 4
• 1 pound small zucchini
• 1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing on bread
• Sea salt, preferably gray salt
• Freshly ground black pepper
• 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil
• 7 eggs, lightly beaten
• 1/2 cup grated Fontina or provolone cheese
• 8 slices country-style bread, each about 1/3 inch thick
Preheat a broiler.
Trim away the ends of the zucchini, then cut in half lengthwise. Toss with 1 tablespoon of the oil and season with salt and pepper. Arrange on a baking sheet, cut side up. Broil until lightly browned, then turn and broil on the skin side until the zucchini are just tender. Transfer to a cutting board and slice crosswise about 1/4 inch thick.
Stir the zucchini and basil into the beaten eggs.
Season with salt and pepper.
Heat a 10-inch flameproof nonstick skillet over moderately high heat. Add the remaining 1/2 tablespoon olive oil. When the skillet is hot, add the egg mixture. Let the eggs cook without stirring until they begin to set, then lift the edges with a rubber spatula and let the uncooked egg run underneath. Continue cooking until the eggs are mostly cooked but still a little moist on top. Place the skillet under the broiler just until the surface of the frittata is no longer moist, about 30 seconds, then sprinkle the cheese on top and broil again until the cheese melts, about 30 seconds longer. Slide the frittata onto a serving plate and let cool to room temperature.
Reset the oven temperature to 375ºF. Brush the bread slices on both sides with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and place on a baking sheet. Bake until browned and crisp, about 15 minutes.
Cut the frittata into wedges to serve.
Accompany each serving with 2 warm slices of toast.
Try serving this frittata with a bowl of Salsa Genovese on the side.
Michael’s Notes: If you want to make the frittata extra light, blend the eggs for 30 seconds in a blender. Sometimes I add Prosciutto Bits to the eggs when I add the zucchini.