We had a wonderful dinner at Bottega Restaurant this last Tuesday night. What recession, we thought as we entered the restaurant. Bottega has been open since last December 5 and I doubt it has been anything but a full house since. Part of the reason for the popularity of this restaurant is the star power of celebrity chef Michael Chiarello. He is TV chef on the Food Network, winery owner, cookbook author, and proprietor of the Napa Style store. It also helps when Bottega gets great reviews from food critics like Michael Bauer of the San Francisco Chronicle or inclusion in the Chronicles’s Top 100 Bay Area Restaurants. Michael Chiarello seems so natural as he roams the restaurant from the kitchen to the dining room greeting diners. We were seated at the bar waiting for our table when suddenly there is Michael to introduce himself to us and learn a little bit about ourselves. It is a very nice touch and one that brings back the customers.
The restaurant is a lively place. The noise level might be a little too loud for some but most of the diners were really enjoying themselves. The staff has been well schooled; they are attentive and cordial but not overbearing The restaurant has an open and festive feel to it. The menu has several good choices and is very moderate in price compared to other restaurants in the area. The wine list is superb and priced much to our liking. For example, we ordered a Copain Voignier that retails for around $20. The price on the wine list for this wine is $35. Most restaurants will mark up the wine at least twice the retail price. We think this is a very good strategy to make sure the restaurant keeps selling wine in these economic times. If you bring in wine, the corkage is $20.
We had the Octopus as an appetizer, very delicious and something different to try. We also ordered a side of French fries for $2. The portion was big enough for the four of us to share. Our entrees were all excellent as well. Our check for dinner including two bottles of wine was $260. Here is another little touch at Bottega. We were ready to order dessert when out comes a special birthday cake for our table. We had mentioned when we booked our reservation we were celebrating a birthday. The dessert was a decadent chocolate mouse-filled cake. This was definitely enough for the four of us. What a treat and another touch to ensure the diners keep coming back. We certainly will come again!
The Good: Celebrity Chef Michael Chiarello, the food, wine list, atmosphere
The Bad: Maybe for some the noise level is just a bit much.