Bottega is one of the long-standing institutions in Napa Valley dining scene. Helmed by celebrity chef Michael Chiarello, it has consistently been in the top Napa restaurants to visit when you are in the area. Knowing that my father is very partial to Italian cuisine, on the last day of our wedding trip, my wife Jun and I took my parents to Bottega for dinner. It was Monday evening, and the restaurant was still absolutely packed, stretching to the outdoor areas under the tent despite the chilly California night. Having been to dozens of Italian restaurants in New York City by now, both Jun and I agreed that the meal at Bottega was not groundbreaking but we still had a lot of satisfying dishes, and it helped that the restaurant had a fantastic wine list too.
We split three appetizers and three pastas/main dish, followed by two desserts. What always makes the Bay Area stand out in dining is the emphasis on quality of ingredients, and it shows at Bottega too, starting with the delicious caprese salad with local heirloom tomatoes accompanied by balsamic in spherical “caviar” form. Hamachi crudo (the restaurant offers a crudo dish with one daily catch every day) was also gently touched for a more than adequate texture. On the other hand, wood grilled octopus with olive oiled braised potatoes and salsa verde felt it could lose a bit of salt as the seasoning somewhat undermined the texture of the otherwise nicely grilled octopus. My mother was instantly hooked to the name “Sophia Loren” next to a pasta dish, so we had to give that a try. The spaghetti dish cooked in tomato water infused with tomato leaves turned out to be a winner, with its understated elegance in the way it looked simple in plating yet had a wonderful balance of flavor and texture.
The other pasta that we had ordered, zucchini spaghettini with squash blossom pesto, cherry tomatoes and crispy squash blossoms, was another satisfying dish with its rustic touch. Smoked Sonoma duck breast and confit accompanied by fergola sarda, roasted fig and fennel vinaigrette was also serviceable, with the nice combination of duck breast and roasted fig that could have been even more delicious had it been slightly less sweet. Don’t skip the desserts at Bottega. The best dish of the night for me was the absolutely delightful warm espresso crepe filled with ricotta and orange curd that offered something I had not tasted before at an Italian restaurant. Semifreddo served with fresh figs and sautéed apples was another standout dish, not being overly sweet just the way I like.
As mentioned above, the restaurant is still one of the most popular restaurants in Napa Valley, so booking in advance is highly recommended even though the dining space itself is quite spacious. Bottega carries a lot of great Napa Valley wines with a variety of price points so do make sure to order a bottle or two of rich Cabernet Sauvignon to complement your meal. The restaurant has a charming vibe that works for many different occasions, and seems to have a nice balance of locals and tourists dining during our visit. After a day of wine tasting in the Napa Valley area, Bottega is the kind of restaurant you would definitely want to dine at.
- Creativity: 8.0/10
- Execution: 8.0/10
- Ingredients: 8.5/10
- Flavor: 7.5/10
- Texture: 8.5/10
- Value: 8.0/10
Address: 6525 Washington Street, Yountville, CA 94599
Telephone: (707) 945-1050