While in California, my parents and I enjoyed a late dinner at Bottega Ristorante in Napa Valley. Bottega is the newest restaurant from Michael Chiarello. My mother and I had been to another restaurant of his, Tra Vigne, and were very disappointed — we hoped for a better experience this time around.
After a late seating, we met our server, ordered some wine and were ready to order. We all chose very differently but perfectly. To start, we enjoyed a brussel spout salad (side note: who actually likes brussel sprouts besides my mom? I do, now.) That salad was so tender and crispy at the same time. The flavors from the brussel sprouts and meyer lemons were so light, lemony and salty, yet still fresh. On my end, a delightfully delicate ricotta gnocci. Perfectly paired with Michael’s tangy homemade red sauce — I wish I had some right now. My dad’s plate first plate was filled with fresh tomatoes and tart blue cheese — a wonderfully different combination. By the time our appetizers were done, my mom and I agreed that this experience was most certainly a better one.
For our main course, we spanned the food spectrum: moist and perfectly cooked lamb chops, local sole with ‘crush’ grapes, roasted whole fish with lemons, tomatoes and a beautiful California olive oil drizzle. I can’t boast enough about the lamb chops, they were coated in Michael ‘s own ‘fennel spice’ and you could taste it in every bite. The chops were so perfectly cooked, they melted in my mouth. Served with a delicious Ancient grain polenta, a meal to die for.
We had an great meal and what turned out to be a talkative and endearing server that certainly made out night more fun. I would (and will) be sure to visit Bottega whenever I’m in town, as should you. Be sure to make a reservation because those Californians know about good food and a reservation is hard to get there.