Vail, CO Colorado
La Bottega owner Steve Virion admires the Tuscan way of cooking. “They do everything right,” he says. As a chef there for two years, he cooked from the restaurant’s garden and shopped for fruits and vegetables at a nearby market. In Tuscany, it’s about using the best ingredients to create simple, rustic dishes, and Virion takes this approach at La Bottega, or as he calls it “straight forward food.” Diners need look no further than Virion’s marinara sauce to taste the delicious simplicity. Virion starts with canned Italian tomatoes or Colorado grown he hand jars each August, adds a medley of onions, carrots, celery, garlic and olive oil and cooks it down for seven or eight hours. To finish it, he grinds the sauce through a food mill bringing out all the luscious flavors of the vegetables.
Ten years ago, La Bottega started as a modest sandwich and pizza place with only 15 seats. Now its expanded dining room is reminiscent of the Italian countryside with a menu to match. But it’s the cheesesteaks that continue to drive the restaurant’s popularity. The Philadelphia sandwich has garnered a local following who are completely smitten by the combination of thinly sliced beef or chicken tossed with warm, salty white American cheese. The die hards top theirs with hot cherry peppers and order a 14 incher “7 inches for now and 7 inches for later. Virion spent a lot of time in Philly perfecting the recipe. Even the king of Philly cheesesteak buns Lenny Amaraso gives the sandwich his thumbs up, calling it the best he’d ever had.
Participate in The Longevity Project
The Longevity Project is an annual campaign to help educate readers about what it takes to live a long, fulfilling life in our valley. This year Kevin shares his story of hope and celebration of life with his presentation Cracked, Not Broken as we explore the critical and relevant topic of mental health.
There are a handful of dishes on Bottega’s menu that can’t be removed without a revolt from dedicated patrons: the pasta carbonara, osso bucco, the cedar planked salmon and mussels served in big bowl. But don’t miss the proscuitto-wrapped asparagus appetizer. Baked in cast iron at 600 degrees in the stone oven, the spears are topped with Bottega’s flavor-packed marinara, mozzarella and parmesan. Gooey on the top, the intense heat caramelizes the bottom cheese to a beautiful brown that’s smoky, crisp and potentially addicting. The homemade ravioli is another don’t miss, usually served with a brown butter sage sauce, the fillings switch up with the seasons.
For dessert, indulge in the house-made tiramisu. Served in a tall square slice big enough to share, this tiramisu is especially creamy, sandwiched between fluffy light lady fingers and showered with huge shavings of chocolate.
100 E Meadow Drive