On a perfectly sunny summer evening the (cool) ladies of my offices hopped a cab to the airy patio of the Maritime Hotel. We quickly sank into a scene where the clientele sashay around the nautical piazza as though they are gracing an uber cool red carpet. They mingle with the hot dads, beautiful children, and monotonous models in scant breezy skirts that flashed bare ass with every butterfly flap.
Our waitress was beautiful but looked barely 17, and so I refused to take wine recommendations from her. I jealously admired her tight short shorts that looked like they hugged her perfectly, but then I saw her picking wedgies multiple times and felt better as I lounged in my summer dress.
On my side of the table, we order the cheapest bottle of white and it was one of the worst wines I’ve ever consumed. Thinking our lesson had been learned, the next round we ordered a pricier bottle, but it was only a hairline better. So we enviously watched our friends sipping on their lovely (although non alcoholic) cocktail across the table. The virgin cocktail menu assembles distinctive drinks that sounded more and more alluring as I drank my 2 bottles of crappy wine.
I found the palm sized rounds of warm pizza doughy bread and the salads to be the highlight of the dinner. Although we didn’t order pizza (until dessert ) the “bread” quietly establishes their pizza oven pride… which I’m sure is perfectly good for the tourist…
Undazzeled by pizza we skipped ahead to greens I was put in charge of selecting the salads for the table. We shared (in order of preference): the Farro with mozzarella and blood orange, the Beets with oranges/mint/hazelnuts, and the Tricolore with walnuts and gorgonzola (photo). Unfortunately the first two were on the other side of the table and their lovely presentation had already succumb to our clumsy hunger before my camera had a chance. I think my friends were surprised by the nutty toothsome brilliance of the farro because they had never had it before; I was impressed with it because most restaurant don’t take the time to fully cook farro and seem to think it ok to serve it hard (I’m looking at you, otherwise delicious Beppe). This beet salad is a reasonable rendition of what maybe my favorite salad and the Tricolore was a decent version of a salad that will never stand a chance of ever being stellar.
The Burrata was also good, but that has nothing to do with La Bottega and everything to do with being cheese. The tiny tomatoes were juicy and sweet with flecks of basil which lacked any punchy basil flavor; but the burrata opens like an Faberge egg to reveale the succulent milky inners that we sucked away to our happy bellies.
The oversized two-some of ravioli with goat cheese, pesto, parmagiano, and pine nuts were not quite as good as they looked. La Bottega is another cornerstone in my theory that “Entrees are lame, appetizers and small dishes rule!” But on to dessert …
Dessert was a mediocre hodgepodge of predictable tiramisu, coco, and an apple tart with the only highlight being the ball of cinnamon gelato atop the tart.
But we finished with the (highly recommended) “dessert pizza” which this evening was filled with banana and covered with nutella. Hardly a winner in the overall realm of superstar desserts, but probably the best on their sweets menu.
La Bottega (Chelsey)
363 W 16th St
New York, NY 10011