Bottega Restaurant has been open now for over a decade, and built its reputation on the high-quality Neapolitan pizza. Back then, it was a trailblazer on Montreal’s pizzeria scene and to this day, still makes some of the best pizzas in the city. And in our opinion, Bottega makes the best Neapolitan pizza.
Bottega means “workshop/studio” and it was Fabrizio and Aniello Covone, founders of the restaurant, who chose this Italian name for their St-Zotique restaurant. This was the name they felt would make their clients understand that everything at Bottega is homemade, from the perfect pizza dough to the tomato sauce and even the restaurant’s famous gelati.
The Covone family already owned Il Mulino (now Hostaria restaurant) when they first opened Bottega. “Montreal only had three good pizzerias at the time. It wasn’t like today where new pizzerias are setting up shop all the time!”
This is not a space where they want a showy decor to overshadow what the restaurant does well, and that is serve great food, especially the pizzas. This is why people keep returning to Bottega so the traditional refined look does the job as it should. The space seats about 75, including some seats at the bar and we enjoy sitting at a table which has been set with a white tablecloth and has place settings that include real cloth napkins. The servers look professional with their black aprons and they exude a certain confidence as they go about their work which they accomplish well. You only have to look around you at the shelves, stacked with wine bottles to know that there is definitely some wine available with your meal. The star of the show, however, is the large ‘Acunto’ forno covered in red ceramic tiles with its inlay “Bottega”. This is where the pizzas turn into mouthwatering deliciousness. Annie Lebel of Atelier in Situ is behind this chic yet classical atmosphere. Bottega also has a terrace with another 50 places where the Bottega experience can be savoured.
Mama Giovanna and her son Fabrizio have lent their talents to most of Bottega’s recipes. Fabrizio followed many cooking courses in Naples, convincing his family that by opening a pizzeria making traditional Neapolitan pizzas would be the next step, especially as his father is from the region of Naples. New chef Ermir Mullaj and his team are now helping the Covone family develop the menu further.
At Bottega, the excellent pizzas are influenced by the flavours of Napoli. There are pizzas topped with prosciutto cotto, eggplant and mozzarella, ricotta, salami, mushrooms and mozzarella (or other cheese choices), Parmigiano and prosciutto di Parma. Or try a “pizza bianca” (no tomato sauce), with toppings ranging from simply olive oil, oregano and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, to rapini, homemade sausage and mozzarella. Another popular pizza choice is with mozzarella and porcini, topped with arugula, olive oil, Tartufo nero (black truffle), and basil. And when it comes to tomato salse …. classic margherita, marinara, romana, siciliana, caprese come to mind. However, Bottega’s dough is what makes their pizzas so fantastic but this in no way undermines the other ingredients which too, are all amazingly delicious. We do have a soft spot though, for the classic margherita pizza and the rapini and sausage pizza.
Small appetizers called sfizi are a great way to start the evening at Bottega. The menu includes Bacio della Bottega (small bites of stuffed pizza with prosciutto cotto, mushrooms, mozzarella, ricotta), Arancino bella Napoli (rice croquettes stuffed with prosciutto cotto & mozzarella), Polpetta con Pomodoro (meatballs in tomato sauce), Costolette di Agnello Scottadito (grilled lamb chops), Melanzane a Funghetti (roasted eggplant with basil & San Marzano sauce), and Gamberone alla Griglia (grilled shrimp). Special mention from tastet.ca for the polpetta (among the best ever eaten), salads and Bacio (“kiss” in Italian). So exquisite!
The wine list, created by Andreas Vecchio, understandably includes mostly Italian wines that have been selected to pair well with the menu choices. Andreas favours small artisan producers of organic and natural wines. Finally, there are a few classic cocktails on a short list of drinks, thanks to Massimo Covone.
The best part of Bottega has to be their pizzas but don’t discount the warm and welcoming ambiance, defined by the staff and all the customers, from families, romantic encounters, get-togethers with friends, and business meals. It shows that Bottega is well-suited to a vast variety of dining possibilities and everyone has come because of the fine Italian cuisine. Did you know that Bottega has opened a second location in Laval?