La Bottega, Vail, Northern Italian cuisine
Vail CO, Colorado
Meadow Drive, Vail
For almost 10 years, La Bottega has been a Vail mainstay. It used to be a cozy little place with two distinctive personalities: wine bar and restaurant. They recently closed for a massive remodel, and now the Italian eatery has a Tuscan farmhouse feel. The ceiling is higher, and is crisscrossed with wooden beams.
New tile work around the pizza oven, a private room upstairs, wrought iron gates, air conditioning and solid wooden tables ” these are the hallmarks of the new space. And the wine bar is more a part of the restaurant, with its barrel tables and extensive list.
Owners Steve and Elisabetta Virion have embraced their new space and it shows in the menu. “We’re still Northern Italian cuisine, but we offer even more Tuscan grilled meats now,” said Steve. “Basically, it’s simple food.” They’ll be adding more European fish over the course of the year. Mainstays such as the house-made lobster ravioli, cedar-planked salmon and osso bucco are still there.
According to some of their suppliers, Elisabetta knows more about Italian wines than anyone else in town. Roughly 50 percent of their list is Italian, and they’ve been including wines from Spain, too. Elisabetta offers several wines by the glass, and an extensive bottle list. Don’t hesitate to ask questions about the selection.
Sipping and sunning
As part of the remodel the deck was expanded, making it the largest one on Meadow Drive. Thanks to the cobblestone street and recent Sonnenalp remodel, it’s a quaint place to sit, sip and sun. The full menu is available outside.
The grappa-glazed duck has a sweet, orange essence. Served with creamy polenta, grilled asparagus and roasted tomatoes, the duck is succulent. The thin-crust pizzas are lightly charred in spots, giving them a smokey soul that’s a proper counterpoint to the bubbling cheese. The prosciutto-wrapped asparagus comes with a mozzarella-parmesan concoction that is divinely browned on the bottom.