It’s not often that Diva #2 goes out for dinner with her parents. Not because she doesn’t want to but rather because her parents are Italian old school in thought – why go out to eat when you can cook at home? Diva #2 often heard this line while growing up which would explain her penchant for going out every week to a new restaurant.
By some small miracle, everyone agreed to go for dinner for Diva #2’s dad’s birthday and naturally, Diva #1 was invited to join us at Bottega Pizzeria in Little Italy. Let’s be honest, the Divas chose the restaurant; we don’t like being told where we are going to eat. Located on Saint Zotique, this restaurant is affiliated with another famous Little Italy eatery, Hostaria.
While waiting for the mysterious A, Mini Diva and family, the Divas looked over the chalkboard menu listing their specials, and ordered our cocktails. Our table was soon ready and we were luckily seated near their beautiful red wood burning oven brought in from Italy. As the rest of the group arrived, Mini Diva planted herself between the older Divas and didn’t move the entire night. Well except to get up and dance every now and then, or to demand lipstick from Diva #1… what a little Diva!
Bottega’s menu has a large selection of sfizi, which are typical Neapolitan tapas that are usually found in pizzerias. This is right up the Divas’ alley, as we like to try as much of a menu as we can. Some may say that we are gluttonous, but we prefer to call ourselves thorough.
We started with the Buffala mozzarella. Served in a clay pot and dressed simply with olive oil, it was fresh and creamy and was just large enough to open our appetites for the rest of the dishes on the table. We also ordered the arancini, which we had tried in the past and were eager to return for. The large ball of rice was stuffed with melted mozzarella and prosciutto which added a nice amount of salt to the more acidic fresh tomato sauce spooned on top. The outside was the right amount of crispy and the inside was oozing with cheese and flavour.
The roasted eggplant dish, in the style of a caponata, was simple and delicious with tomatoes, garlic and basil. Cooked to perfection, the eggplants were meaty and the dish was saucy enough to finish off with the Italian bread at the table. Bottega advertises that they make their tomato sauce with San Marzano tomatoes, many chefs argue that they are indeed the best Italian tomatoes, and who are we to argue?
We also ordered the sausage and rapini, a staple in most Italian restaurants and Bottega did it well. The sausage was a bit spicy and the bitter rapini, covered in extra virgin olive oil, offered the perfect pairing. You would think that we were filling up on the sfizi but we were eagerly awaiting their infamous pizza.
Mini Diva said she wanted a meatball so we ordered Bottega’s meatball, which of course came with tomato sauce. Definitely one of the best sfizi we had, the meatball was tender and moist and the tomato sauce on top was perfect for la scarpetta. Mini Diva is a tiny human, she couldn’t very well finish her meatball, so the Divas, with the help of the infamous A, polished off her appetizer. She didn’t mind, she had stolen some of our sfizis too. She truly is the only child that Diva #1 has ever loved, part of it is her devilish Chucky-doll charm and another part is that she says the most inappropriate things. Just last week both Divas were told that we would never get married because we didn’t have princes…but she had one so she was all good…thanks kid…thanks.
A staple at Italian restaurants is the calamari, and they were very good at Bottega. A generous enough portion which included the tentacles, the calamari were not overcooked, the crispy coating was light enough to still taste the fish and the fresh squeeze of lemon livened it up. Diva #1 loves the tentacles and enjoyed the calamari, but she is generally bored with calamari because it is often simply as expected. Now a nice grilled calamari with a cheesy stuffing…now that’s the right way to eat squid!
One of the specials of the night was a delicious sounding pappardelle with porcini mushrooms and roasted squash. Diva #1 was very tempted to order this dish but there were just too many options. When A’s wife ordered the pasta special, she was happy to be able to snag a bite. The aroma was wonderful as it hit the table and it tasted as good as it smelled. The pasta was al dente, the mushrooms plentiful, and the squash was seasoned well and melted in your mouth. Definitely a dish worth ordering if you’re lucky enough to see it on the chalkboard menu.
Diva #2 saw the word coniglio on the chalkboard menu while waiting to be seated and knew Diva #1 would agree that they should order the rabbit. Two slices of rustic-styled rabbit were served with a thickened sauce that was absolutely amazing. Tender and succulent, the dish pleased everyone at the table, including Mini Diva who has no qualms about eating absolutely everything; this is not a picky kid, she doesn’t even mind a cocktail or two 😉 We hope that one day A lets us take her out unsupervised, we promise to behave!
We wanted to order a couple more sfizi but first Mini Diva insisted that the Divas take her to the bathroom. An exercise in parenting, it’s clear that the Divas cannot handle all aspects of babysitting with grace. We weren’t really sure what to do, was she toilet trained? Could she reach the toilet seat? Could she wipe herself? Our solution was to hold her over the toilet while she peed, she isn’t that light anymore and when she said the words: “I am not ready to go yet” while Diva#1 was crouched, in heels, holding her hovering over the toilet… well we had a few choice curse words for that moment.
When we returned to the table, we saw that the mysterious A had ordered the bacio de la Bottega which are small pockets of pizza dough stuffed prosciutto, mushrooms, ricotta and mozzarella. We could have easily eaten a dozen! The dough had a slight charred outside, the cheeses were melted just right on the inside and the combination of mushrooms and prosciutto was ideal.
The Divas also ordered the gnocchi pomodoro but unfortunately, this is the one dish we were disappointed with. Though they were light, we found them to be overcooked for our liking and nothing special. Unfortunately this is often the case with gnocchi pomodoro, it is hard to impress an Italian with a good plate of gnocchi. The Divas agreed that Diva #2’s mom’s ricotta gnocchi are better which made her happy to hear, and we also requested that she whip us up a batch in the near future. She glared at us, cursed in Italian and told Diva #1 that she had ruined her daughter, the once well behaved Diva #2. Hee Hee!
While eating, Mini Diva kept looking over to the guy making the pizza and flirting. Maybe we should specify that Mini Diva is three years old, but she knows what she wants. And a man who can throw pizza dough in the air with finesse is a man who can feed a woman. So the Divas took advantage and took her to see the beautiful red wood burning oven, and it wasn’t enough that she saw it over the open kitchen counter. She wanted to get behind the kitchen, so we took her. Mini Diva was ecstatic, and she told the chef manning the pizza oven: “nice tattoos.” Her parents cringed, and he grinned and said she would grow up to be trouble. The Divas are thinking that Mini Diva may be our key to meeting Montreal chefs, hopefully A will let us take her out past her bedtime on a Thursday night, our friends will love her.
We arrived back at the table in time for the pizzas. A ordered the panozzo which is similar to a calzone except it’s not completely closed. There were two slices of thin pizza dough stuffed with prosciutto, eggplant and fresh fior di latte mozzarella. The filling was generous and flavourful and the dough crispy. The mysterious A even went so far as to say that the panozzo was better than the pizza at Bottega.
The pizzas at Bottega are cooked in their authentic wood oven pizza, which also has the seal of authenticity from the Verace Pizza Napolitana Artigianale (VPNA) protocol. There’s no messing around here! The pizza is Neapolitan pizza, it is REAL Italian pizza, and of course there are both tomato sauce based pizzas, and what is known as a white pizza, which is olive oil based. Diva #2’s parents shared a pizza with Mini Diva. They had the capricciosa, topped with prosciutto, olives, tomatoes, mushrooms, artichokes and fior di latte mozzarella. The crust was crispy and thin but not soggy despite all the toppings and Mini Diva ate her fair share, though she left the crust.
The Divas naturally chose the truffle pizza and added mushrooms. We didn’t even have to confirm with one another; it was understood once it was spotted on the menu. Very simple in terms of ingredients, just the black truffle slices, fior di latte mozzarella and Grano Padano, with basil; the pizza was delicious. There was a generous portion of truffles shaved over top, and because we are Divas we asked them to throw on some porcini mushrooms. The addition of the mushrooms added another level of earthiness that paired nicely with the truffles. The runny egg yolk added even more richness to the wonderful pizza. Even Mini Diva had her first taste of black truffles and enjoyed it; it made her two Aunty Divas very proud!
Bottega has what one would expect on the dessert menu of an Italian restaurant. A and his wife shared the tiramisu which was more of a deconstructed variation compared to the typical layered dessert. Of course A did not let us have any so we didn’t taste it, but based on the speed that he inhaled it, we assume it was delicious. Diva #2’s parents chose the cannoli. The shell was very crispy but not to the point of completely crumbling and the filling was rich and creamy. Bottega is known for their cannolis so this was a great choice.
With the extra large jar of nutella staring at us throughout the night, the Divas opted for their nutella pizza. Served warm, the thick layer of chocolaty nutella was slightly melted on top of the perfect thin crust. It was hard to resist eating more than one slice but we were full and took most of it home.
Overall, the Divas and company enjoyed their dinner at Bottega, which also has a location in Laval, not that we recommend ever going to Laval over Little Italy. Whether you’re there for a family dinner or a night out with friends, Bottega will satisfy your pizza craving.
Our Rating: Splendid
Tagged: 65 Rue St-Zotique, Arancini, Bacio, Bottega, Bottega Italian, Bottega Little Italy, Bottega Montreal, Bottega Pizza, Bottega St-Zotique, Calamari, Calzone, Cannoli, Capricciosa, Cocktails, Eggplant, Fabrizio Covone, fior di latte mozzarella, Gnocchi, H2S 1K7, Italian, Laval, Little Italy, Meatballs, Montreal, Montreal Restaurant, Mozzarella di bufala, Mushrooms, Napoli, Neapolitan Pizza, Nutella Pizza, Pizza, Pizzeria, Polpetta, Prosciutto, Quattro Fromaggi, Rabbit, Reservations Needed, Saint-Zotique, San Marzano, Sausage, Sfizi, Splendid, tapas, Tiramisu, wine, Wood Burning Oven