Baltimore Good Eats – Bottega
September 26, 2016 § Leave a comment
Ever since I first heard about Bottega about a year ago, I’ve been waiting for any opportunity to try it. To my dismay, I found out they were temporarily closed for a period of time so it’s taken me this long to finally go but it was definitely worth the anticipation!
From its storefront in Station North, Bottega is very unassuming and if I hadn’t known about it, I probably would pass it without realizing that there is delicious food being created inside. When you walk through the entrance, you’re greeted by friendly faces of the staff and a vintage, rustic ambiance (noted for my future home) filled with natural light and worn wood. All of the food was absolutely delicious, which I will get to soon, but another bonus is the restaurant is BYOB! My friend Elaine and I brought a nice bottle of rosé to enjoy and our waitress offered to keep it chilled in an ice bucket for us by our table, which was much appreciated.
Bottega has an ever-changing menu that reflects what is in season, which is extremely evident in the dishes. The simplicity of the food allows the ripe, fresh ingredients to shine while incorporating a creative twist. Here is the menu as of the day this post was published:
It was quite the struggle trying to narrow down what to order but it really seems like you can’t go wrong with any of the options. To start the meal, Elaine and I shared the heirloom tomato salad and the chicken liver mousse with pickled quail eggs.
The heirloom tomato salad was full of vibrant summer flavors that was a light way to start the meal. The tomatoes were sweet and just firm enough, the sheep’s cheese gave the right touch of creaminess and tang, and the bread cubes provided a crunchy textural contrast. Simple yet so delicious.
I ordered the chicken liver mousse on a whim and I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it! I don’t normally choose to eat liver but I had this feeling that if I would like it anywhere, it would be at Bottega. And the chefs did not disappoint.
The mousse was smooth and paired perfectly with the charred crostini. It had great depth in flavor and I ended up requesting more crostini to finish up every last bit of that mousse! The flaky sea salt and fresh herbs enhanced the flavors, and the acidity of the pickled quail eggs and pickles helped cut through the richness of the chicken liver. I might have to hurry back to Bottega for this before the menu changes, and you should too!
For the entrees, we ordered the fresh, house-made pappardelle with a light tomato sauce (the boar ragù option on the pictured menu above must have been an update after I was there) and the gnocchi with zucchini, summer squash, and pesto.
The pappardelle dish was actually an afterthought that was ordered when the waitress suggested we might need one more dish to feel satisfied. Elaine and I opted for the pappardelle because even though it just sounded like pasta with tomato sauce, the appeal of fresh pasta was enough to make us try it. The pappardelle had the right amount of bite in it so that it kept its shape and integrity in the sauce. The dish had some brightness from the tomato sauce and I appreciated that the sauce was light so that the pasta was the main focus, which is the whole reason why we ordered it.
When the gnocchi dish arrived on the table, I was pleasantly surprised. I was expecting a bowl of little potato dumplings but instead, I was served pan-fried discs of gnocchi that had a crispy crust and creamy interior. I am obsessed with this new concept and definitely will be looking out for these elsewhere or try my hand at them in the kitchen. The gnocchi are decadent so they paired well with the squash, and I’m always a fan of pesto on pretty much anything.
And of course, no matter how full you are, you always need to order the dessert. Elaine and I were slightly disappointed when we overheard that the people at the table next to us decided not to get the dessert, so we owed it to them, ourselves, and all of you to try the salted chocolate and caramel pie. The dark chocolate and copious amounts of flaky sea salt helped balance out the sweet, slightly chewy caramel filling. It was definitely decadent but a great way to end this incredible meal.
Overall, I was impressed and well-pleased with the execution of all of the dishes, in which the freshness and simplicity of the ingredients shone through. My friend and I were very full after this meal but I honestly don’t regret any of our choices and would order the same amount of food next time! If you want to go to Bottega, I would recommend making a reservation a few days in advance.
If you’ve been to Bottega or have other great dining options in the Baltimore area, please share in the comment section below!