It was our last night in the beautiful wine growing region of California in Napa Valley and my husband and I wanted to make it memorable, so we made reservations at celebrity Chef Michael Chiarello's Bottega Restaurant in the town of Yountville. Yountville is known as the culinary capital of Napa Valley as there are many fine restaurants located there, including the legendary French Laundry, but I've been a fan of Chiarello since I first saw him cook on my PBS TV station years ago, and I wanted to dine in his establishment. He was also the son of an immigrant family from Calabria which attracted me to his style of cooking, as this is the same region of Italy my husband is from. (All photos will enlarge if clicked on once, and then again when they open on a new page)
Tra Vigne restaurant for two decades, on the Food Network with his show “Easy Entertaining with Michael Chiarello," and is now also on the Cooking Channel show with new episisodes of "Easy Entertaining with Michael Chiarello." Michael is the proprietor of a small family winery, Chiarello Family Vineyards, making highly rated estate wines from historic over 90 year old vineyards surrounding his home in St. Helena, California. He also owns Consorzio Flavored Oils and is a cookbook author. His full professional biography can be read on this link.
In 2000, Chiarello founded "NapaStyle," a showcase of handcrafted home goods and artisanal foods that encourage experimentation in cooking and entertaining. NapaStyle shares Chiarello’s perspective on Napa Valley living through a catalog, website and retail stores, as well as through television shows and cookbooks.
In 2008, Chiarello found the dream location for his Napa Valley flagship store in Yountville, CA. Housed in a historic 1800’s brick building, NapaStyle Yountville includes a Panini Bar and Cafe, Wine Shop and Tasting Bar, Olive Oil Bar, Salumeria and outdoor terrace seating for forty five. Napa Style Yountville is located directly across from Michael’s new and acclaimed Bottega Napa Valley restaurant.
Bottega restaurant is part of the historic Vintage Estates, located in one of the oldest wineries in the Napa Valley, the former Groezinger Estate, and is open for lunch, dinner, and after dinner.
There are two indoor dining rooms that seat ninety and also a private dining/wine room and bar. They are decorated in warm shades of olive green, gold and browns with Venetian plaster walls, and imported Murano glass chandeliers. The ambiance is both rustic and elegant.
There are also forty outdoor lounge seats on the Terrazzo and twenty six outdoor dining seats on the Terrazzo as well, as you can see in these photographs above and below.
The outdoor bar and covered outdoor lounge is open for late service, weather permitting.
The kitchen is partially visible from the dining room. A wood fire oven is located directly behind the stack of dishes.
I was especially impressed by Bottega's signature water glasses made from stainless steel lined copper which keep their delicious sparkling water very cold. The photo was taken from his NapaStyle website where they are offered for sale.
Bottega's Italian cuisine menu highlights the bounty of artisanal and house made ingredients, as well as local produce. The menus change seasonally, and the present dinner and lunch menu can be viewed on this link.
As appetizer, my husband had wood grilled octopus olive oil braised potatoes, pickled red onion, and salsa verde (top middle photo), and I had Chiarello's famous "Polenta Under Glass," with caramelized wild mushrooms, balsamic game sauce (top right photo). They were both absolutely exquisite! We each had a taste of each others appetizers because we were both proclaiming them to be the best we ever ate! I was really impressed with the polenta under glass and found this video on his web site that explains how it is made.
We drooled over the descriptions of all his pastas on the menu, so our very friendly waitress Laura, who is also a talented photographer, suggested we share a portion of ricotta gnocchi, salsa di pomodoro della Nonna, with pecorino (bottom left photo), as she said they were her favorite. As she promised they were "melt in the mouth" light and delicious. We also shared a dinner special of wood-oven roasted whole sea bass with grilled white eggplant, Calabrian chili dressing, and lemon aioli (middle bottom photo). Everything was superb!
Laura also convinced us to have dessert and we shared a chocolate molten fudge cake with vanilla hazelnut anglaise sauce (bottom right). Hot and sweet it also melted in our mouths.
We can honestly say this was one of the most delicious meals we have ever eaten and the perfect culmination of our four days in the Sonoma and Napa Valleys. We returned to our hotel under the light of this bright full moon, sad to say goodbye to this segment of our trip that began in San Francisco. The next day we were headed to Yosemite National Park, one of the most beautiful national parks in the United States. I hope you'll join me on future blog posts to see some of the outstanding sights we saw!
I'm linking to Michael Lee's blog Designs by Gollum for "Foodie Friday." Visit her today to see links to all the participating blog and their wonderful foodie posts!