Bottega: Michael Chiarello’s new adventure in the Napa Valley.

He once owned and operated Travigne up in St. Helena until the food network snagged him away and made him a star.  Now he’s back in Napa and has opened Bottega, an Italian restaurant in Yountville, a fifteen minute drive from the inn.  We were fortunate to get a reservation as there seems to be at least a one-month (or more) waiting list to get in, and enjoyed a delicious meal.  Some of my favorites: grilled octopus salad (perfectly charred, great smoky flavor, and a nicelight  texture), the Prosciutto appetizer with deep-fried focaccia balls and pomegranates served with a sparkling red wine (the flavors married perfectly), Polenta in a jar with mushrooms and a balsamic reduction (love at first bite with that reduction sauce and a nice presentation).  We also enjoyed a light and crispy Pesce Frito (shrimp with a tempura batter) served with a black-butter sauce, the Veal Ravioli in a light broth and a bit of brown butter, and the Clams and Linguine.  Jamie enjoyed a Brussel Sprouts Salad ( loved it- I just can’t stomach them).  I asked for a taste of the Bolognese and they brought me this small taste of a rich, meaty sauce that was just yummy.  To say the least we passed on dessert as we were already stuffed.  Some of the other courses looked enormous (veal chop) and we were glad we stayed with appetizers and first courses only.  The ambience is very hip and urban, with a very cool receptionist counter set up with stone lit up from the inside that sets a very cool tone as you enter the building.  It definitely competes with Don Giovanni; but where Giovanni’s is more traditional Italian, Bottega is more rustic in its approach with the grilled meats, fish, and house-made salamis.

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