Haute Mom: Bottega Napa Valley
When Easy Entertaining with Chef Michael Chiarello first aired in 2003, it was a turning point in my passion for food. I always enjoyed watching Chef Julia Child create decadent French cuisine and Chef Martin Yan was always entertaining, but Chef Chiarello inspired me. So, when we were in Northern California I made Mr. M make the hour trek from Sonoma County to Yountville and try Chef Chiarello’s Bottega. It did not disappoint.
From the moment Mr. M and I walked in, I knew we would receive excellent service. From the hostess, who seated us right away even though we were 30 minutes early to our reservation and they were jam packed, to our incredible server, Walt, who was knowledgeable and incredibly helpful. The service at Bottega was outstanding.
Mr. M and I have pretty big appetites, so we didn’t hold back. First course was Pesce Crudo and Wood Grilled Octopus. I was impatient and totally forgot to capture an image of the smoky Wood Grilled Octopus that was served with olive oil braised potatoes, pickled red onion & salsa verde. There is something amazing about grilled octopus and potatoes. It’s one of my favorite combinations and Bottega does an excellent job keeping the octopus tender and flavorful.
The Pesce Crudo is market fresh raw selection from the sea and chosen daily. On the day we went, they were serving delicious and fresh Ahi Tuna served on a Himalayan Salt rock. It was divine and the crispy garlic and seaweed that topped the fish finished the tuna beautifully.
Our second course included Butternut Squash Caramelle and Black Garlic Spaghetti Grande.
Butternut Squash Caramelle are butternut squash filled handmade pasta shaped like little candies served with Bosc pear, Pecorino, crispy sage,brown butter emulsion & Amaretti – poppy seed gremolata. This was the best butternut squash filled pasta dish I’ve ever had the privilege to devour. Yummy! Please excuse my photo…I really have little patience and forgot to photograph the dish before I dug in.
The Black Garlic Spaghetti Grande with head-on gulf prawns, cherry tomatoes, calabrian chili, green onions & bonito flakes was Mr. M’s least favorite dish, but still spot on and delicious. The gulf prawns were grilled and the pasta was cooked perfectly al dente and had a great dense texture. It was a lovely dish with just the right amount of black garlic.
For our third course and main course we ordered the Smoked & Braised Natural Short Ribs and the Wood-Oven Roasted Whole Fish.
The Smoked & Braised Natural Short Ribs with whole grain mustard spaetzle, Sicilian pickles, quince paste & smokey horseradish jus was meaty and tender. The pickles were an excellent compliment to this rich dish and the crunchy spaetzle gave a nice contrast to the tender meat. I think Mr. M and I were very close to licking all our plates clean.
The Wood-Oven Roasted Whole Branzino with carrot caponata, citrus emulsion, and Sicilian autumn spice was my favorite dish at Bottega. The fish was tender, flaky and flavorful and the skin was crispy and imparted with a delicious smokiness. It was fish at its best.
Our last course was a rich Chocolate Molten Hazelnut Cake with Creme Anglaise that was luscious. Note that I don’t have a photo of this heavenly dessert…I really seem to have little self control when it comes to decadent food. I will tell you that it was a beautiful end to this magnificent meal and I was ready to be rolled out of the restaurant.
The flavors at Bottega were delightful. Chef Chiarello, you are my culinary hero. Thank you for inspiring me and continuing to challenge and broaden my palate. We will be back soon.
Bottega in Napa Valley is not to be missed. For more information, check out their website.