Bottega is open for dinner Wed through Sat and now reservations can be made 4 weeks in advance, online and by phone. The formal dining room opened in 1988 in the historic Beaux-Art building. A Café opened next door 2 years later which offers more casual dining. The building originally was an upscale clothing store and later housed some medical care units until it became a restaurant, but it retains the original facade and front windows and tile floor. Chef and Owner Frank Stitt received the James Beard Foundation’s Award for Best Chef Southeast in 2001 as well as many other awards during his time in the industry. Now the good-sized tables are covered with two white cloths, large metal chandeliers provide soft lighting supplemented with votive candles on the tables and some tract lighting in the high ceiling. Currently, they are not using their upstairs seating due to staffing shortages. It has a feel of elegance, the noise level is good and the crowd seemed a bit older. Service was wonderful as was the food. I heartily recommend this place.
Deviled farm eggs are made with pickled peppers and dill then topped with Oscietra caviar. They come 3 halves to an order. The filling is totally smooth and accented nicely by the luscious caviar. They tasted of richness and were delightful.
Sautéed bay scallops were served with lemon, shallot and capers. These small jewels were tender, cooked perfectly and in an outstanding sauce. There was a tad of heat to the tart sauce that worked so well with the shallots. A wonderful dish.
Crawfish risotto contained sweet peas, spinach, local carrots and vermouth. The rice was a perfect al dente, the tender vegetables were lovely and it all was dusted with some Reggiano Parmesan. The dish was creamy with a real depth of flavor. The tiny fresh spinach leaves were a particular treat. A winner of a dish.
Sautéed monkfish was with chickpeas, spinach, bulb onions and harissa. The thick piece of fish had the texture of a chunk of lobster. The chickpeas were mashed and accented with some whole ones and mixed with some of that great spinach and surrounded by the spicy harissa sauce. The beans were from Rancho Gordo which explained their wonderful flavor and texture. This was a fun dish to eat due to the various textures. The flavors weren’t so bad either.
Mississippi wild Redfish was on grilled asparagus and topped with lump crabmeat, parsley and breadcrumbs. The lovely thick asparagus had been peeled to make them easily edible and were full of flavor. The crab blended into the fish perfectly, especially mixed with the rich sauce.
Coconut pecan cake is made with pecan génoise, coconut pastry cream, toasted coconut and créme anglaise. This one was the far better of the two desserts. It was bursting with coconut flavor and the moist cake was well enhanced with some rich cream anglaise. The dense cake was well balanced with the not-too-thick icing for a fine end result. Thumbs up here.
Strawberry Crostata was made with Florida strawberries, lemon, almond frangipane, pâte brisée, and vanilla ice cream. Here they fell a bit off the mark. The crust was tasty but a bit tough and way overshadowed the mildly flavored berries. The balance was off and even the decadent cream anglaise underneath couldn’t save it. The ice cream did not have the rich thick consistency that was needed either.