“Chi va a letto senza cena, tutta la notte si dimena” – Italian proverb.
“He who goes to bed without eating, will regret it throughout the night.”
I love going to bed at night with a tummy full of delicious pasta, it is one of my favourite things. Bottega, an Italian restaurant in Parkhurst, is the perfect ally in this quest. I have eaten at Bottega many times, this occasion being a rendezvous after I returned from a recent overseas trip.
Exploring 4th Avenue by night, I have always found Bottega alluring. So many candles radiate a soft light. From the outside in, those silhouettes of happy people enjoying a good meal can only appeal to the senses. The interior is stylish Italian trattoria. High white ceilings with sophisticated blue up-lighting and chic, framed Peroni posters contrast with the warmer buttercup candlelight. The overall atmosphere is welcoming and warm. There is also an enclosed inside-out area, gas burners to keep you snug in winter, and a place to “light up” if one is so inclined.
The night was quite chilly, so we opted for a bottle of Mullineux Family “Kloof Street Rogue” to warm us up. Kloof Street is the second range from Mullineux Family Wines, and we were really impressed. Easy drinking but still complex enough, and interesting – this was a great choice to complement the range of dishes we ordered. Bottega has a fantastic wine list with a good selection of local and international wines and Champagnes. These are all explained so it makes for interesting reading. There is also an impressive cocktail menu.
The food menu at Bottega is chalked onto a blackboard. There are many popular dishes, favourites which keep people coming back. Some are traditional Italian, others with a fusion twist. The pasta selection is especially creative, offering some lesser-known and exciting combinations.
I started off with a fancy caprese salad. It looked quite gorgeous; blush, juicy tomato slices and creamy ellipses of mozzarella. It was scattered over with capers and basil. Taste-wise, it was a bit disappointing. The mozzarella wasn’t really soft and luscious, it was also under-seasoned. I spiced the caprese up with lots of salt and pepper, as well as generous lashings of balsamic, which really improved it. Our other starter was a mussel dish. Small, but perfectly formed, fleshy molluscs served in a slightly curried moules marinière-style soup. The dish was redolent of Cape Malay cuisine, steaming the delicious spice. Served with crispy bread, this is a great winter-warmer. Another fabulous starter at Bottega is the oysters with a piquante onion-vinegar sauce – a summer delight.
For mains we both had pasta. I really fancy the crab and rocket linguine. The pasta is always al dente, slathered in delicious tomato-based sauce, with olives and a super generous helping of crabmeat. The complementary flavours really linger, and flaked almonds pick out a sweet chewiness. My only real criticism of this pasta is that I found a few small bits of crab shell in the bowl. My fellow diner had Penne Filletto, a hearty plate of tubular penne in a tomato and vodka-based sauce with some perfectly scrumptious fillet. This is really pleasant Italian comfort food, decadent and moreish. There are sufficient options on the menu for vegetarians.
We didn’t have pudding this time. If you are in the mood for a desert, though, one of my Bottega favourites is the glam-chic cupcakes. These guilty pleasures come in all shapes and sizes, imaginative flavours and a really generous icing which makes them utterly desirable in my opinion.
The service at Bottega is generally good – young, interesting waiters seem enthusiastic about their work and go about it in a pleasant manner. Sometimes you might have to be a bit patient with the trainees – reminding them to bring your water or refill your wineglass. Not really a problem in this more relaxed environment where celebrating with friends or enjoying romantic encounters seem the order of the day.
Bottega has become an oh-so-attractive eatery for Johannesburgers. Good food, fine wine and good company epitomise the Italian way of life. You’ll be sure to leave feeling full and satisfied, no regrets.
2 starters, 2 mains and 1 bottle of wine came to R 600.00 including tip.
You can contact Bottega on + 27 (0) 11 447 4448
The review was sent to the restaurant for comment on 25th September 2012