Bottega Ristorante – Yountville, CA

Chef Michael Chiarello was introduced into my life through Top Chef Masters (gotta love good food TV); and since then I keep seeing and reading more about him. I took the chance to visit his restaurant when we took H & S to Napa Valley.

I tried to keep my expectations at bay, so that I won’t have to face any major disappointments (although it was hard because his food in his cookbook & on TV looks amazing).

Great patio! The fireplace was started at around 4.30pm where people were having some drinks while waiting for the dining room to open at 5 pm.

At about 3, we walked over after some snacks from Bouchon Bakery, first thing to the right was a nice looking bar lounge. Talked to the receptionist to try to score a table (silly me, I did not make reservations on a long weekend!), but was told only the bar area was available (first come first serve). When we walked in again at 4.30 pm, a different lady was there so I asked if they had availability in the dining room – and she said yes! for 5 pm.

The restaurant was a lot bigger than I expected, with doorway after doorway. Eating space was in 3 separate areas. We got lead to the back and had a nice table near a corner with a nice view of the kitchen.

I loved the rustic look of the whole place, with a few large communal tables, the concrete & brick walls with high ceilings. There was also a couple chandeliers that were exquisite in a very vintage way.

Menu was quite simple w 1 page of appetisers; a section for pasta; a section for meat dishes and then finally some sides. It is short but has a good range of choices, with something for everyone.

Dessert menu

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Once we ordered; bread was plopped right in the middle of the table for everyone to share

The bread was delicious, nice crust with a warm soft chewy centre; and the house made parmesan dip was great.

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We ordered:

Monterey Calamari $10

crisped with Arborio rice flour & aioli nero

The rice flour was a really nice light coating over tender pieces of squid. Quite good but nothing amazing. The aioli nero was too subtle – with or without it didn’t really matter.

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Risotto del Giorno $25

Wild mushroom and truffle risotto

I never thought I would say this; but this risotto was my favourite of the day! I usual am deterred from ordering risotto off any menu because I have had some bad ones and could not get over them. This was mindblowingly delicious – it was creamy, mushroomy and bursting with flavours. Best risotto I have had to date. Perfectly cooked rice, just the right amount of creaminess (without being heavy) and just so tasty…

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Meyer Lemon Strozzapretti $21

& Dungeness crab lobster fennel broth, basil, tarragon, crab butter & pork crackling

The pasta was cooked to a nice al dente, with a light “sauce” over it. I was kinda hoping for more sauce (broth) because the flavours were too subtle for it. The chunks of crab was nice, pork crackling was good but it seemed to be a little too “light” as a whole. It was good, but felt like something was missing.

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Potato Gnocchi $17

Pan roasted, served with early spring vegetables, English peas fonduta & 11 month Valley Ford Montasio

I am usually not one to order gnocchi but Meep loves them. The gnocchi was pretty good – soft and pillowy with a nice crust from pan frying. I found a lot of the components on the plate to be a little on the greasy side, but the pea puree was delicious! It helped cut into the grease of the gnocchi and add a nice creaminess to every bite.

The vegetables included carrots, peas, shallot & mushrooms ; all of which were quite good.

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Piedmontese Beef Rib Eye $38

served with Sherry vinegar-honey glazed shallots, truffle Parmigiano fries

These truffle parmesan fries are everything everyone said it is. Our endearing server called it “Crack Fries”. They were so good, they stayed in the centre of the table for everyone to share and we ate every single crispy fries with soft centres. Seasoned perfectly with truffle oil & parmesan cheese. Yummmy…

Meat was cooked a little more medium than medium rare but that was ok with me because the rib eye was still tender and juicy.

The meat was seasoned well but I was not crazy bout it. For some reason, this fell flat for me. The shallots were soft & sweet, but the jus was non descript – it just tasted like beef broth with bitter burnt bits deglazed off a pan. The meat was not bad, tender & juicy but it was pretty blah…

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Chocolate Cake $10

w hazelnut creme englaise

This was a special on the dessert menu; it sounded great when he described it but fell flat when it hit the table. I regretted not looking at the menu and ordering something else. The cake was a little dry and tasted almost “burnt” at the edges (not in a pleasant way). The creme englaise helped in making it creamier, more moist but didn’t add much overall. It wasn’t bad, just a little too mediocre as a last dish.

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Total Damage: $160 (including tax & tip)

Personal Rating: 3.75 out of 5 (Very good)

Nothing mindblowing (ok.. maybe the fries were a little over the top amazing) with a couple hits & misses; but all in all, great food w reasonable prices and excellent service.

Maury was our server and he kinda reminds me of Santa Clause, with a white beard, white hard, pot belly and a great smile. He was really enthusiastic w/o being annoying and just a pleasant addition to our experience. The food runner/bus boy was always on top of it – re filling waters, clearing plates, clearing crumbs.

I would go back in a heartbeat to try the rest of the menu. Maybe this time around, Chef Chiarello will be in the house. :)

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Bottega Ristorante

6525 Washington St
Yountville, CA 94599

(707) 945-1050

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