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Bottega - Sublime Italian in Bourke Street
Bottega is a top notch Italian restaurant in Melbourne in a precinct that has dominated the Melbourne culinary landscape for over 50 years. Enter off Bourke into a modern vibey establishment with a touch of retro, and which is a place you can enjoy and let loose. Not starch and stuffy. Bottega is one of the giants of the culinary scene but is always adjusting and adding to the excellence that abounds.
The name Bottega means “artist’s workshop” in Italian, and the creativity and imaginative presentation shines through. In Melbourne it’s common to highlight newly opened establishments but icons like Bottega should be celebrated for their strengths and quality, and new developments. We sampled the new autumn menu at Bottega (they do an express lunch) and were highly impressed. Several dishes struck us as signature dishes and nothing was below par.
The owner Denis is a charming man who is passionate about the industry having spent years in hospitality. He gives space to his chef Gabriele Olivieri, an exceptionally talented chef, to express enormous creativity. Olivieri is an experienced chef who has worked extensively in Europe as well as Australia, who celebrates classic Italian dishes while using fresh seasonal ingredients. He brings a great consistency as well as flair and excels with a signature house made Strozzapreti.
Bottega features engaging waiters who look sharp and are knowledgeable. There’s fine linen on the tables and diners feel a sense of occasion as well as conviviality.
The wine list is well thought out and tailored to the menu, featuring great Victorian wines as well as the best of Italy. It’s a wine list which involves wines consumers will recognise, not just a list for fellow sommeliers.
The food here is an exceptional take on Italian classics with Australian influence. The lunch menu should please across the board. Presentation of dishes is also excellent and well constructed. Bottega is not simply relying on its reputation but always seeking to expand its horizons.
Of the lunch selections, the Salad of fresh tuna is tasty with tuna lightly seared and salad of green beans, cherry tomato, black olive and egg a great complement. The thinly sliced Veal is also simple but enjoyable.
The Bruschetta is also a sublime dish with toasted bread topped with baccala mantecato and vincotto. That is, delicious black salted cod. A triumph.
Zucchini flowers with buffalo ricotta is a delicate and flavoursome option.
Come to Bottega for amazing pasta including the Agnolloti (a kind of ravioli from the Piedmont region) filled with roasted tomato and burrata, with smoked eggplant puree, lemon rocket and balsamico. This age old Italian classic is superbly cooked at Bogetta with perfect pasta and great flavour profile in the stuffing.
A highlight for me is the Chargrilled ox tongue , salsa verde, anchovy and croutons. The meat is slow cooked and melts in the mouth with the rich but not overpowering flavours. Interesting with anchovy but the salt combines superbly with the meat. Croutons give great crunch.
Another highlight was the Pork belly which was perfectly cooked and tender with crackling on the side. The apple sauce was refreshing and quality not just token. One of the better pork belly dishes in Melbourne.
The Pastifico Mennilli linguine prawn carbonara was sublime with fresh quality seafood cooked in a rich sauce. This is quality Italian pasta. Along with the ox tongue these two dishes were the standouts.
After all this the selection of House made sorbetti was delectable including chestnut, blood orange and white peach flavours. Again, refreshing.
Even the coffee here (Genovese) is excellent with the long mac superb.
Prices are reasonable for the quality of food and the express lunch great value.
All in all, I feel Bottega is a restaurant that sits in the top echelons of Italian cuisine in a precinct and a city that does Italian cuisine well.
Bottega, 74 Bourke Street CBD – Italian - Food 9 Coffee 9 Ambience 9