The Place If there is one Italian restaurant which cooked up a storm this year, it has to be La Bottega Enoteca. Located along the buzzing Joo Chiat Road, the nondescript entrance looks like an abandoned shophouse but once the gate opens, it is a different culinary world inside. The man behind La Bottega is chef owner Antonio Miscellaneo, who is behind the crazily popular private dining Casa Nostra previously.
A note of warning if that reservation is a must and it is difficult to score a table, which I tried for a few weeks. The tip is to subscribe to their mailing list, where the restaurant will drop reservation slots about a week in advance. The moment the reservation opened, I went into the website and managed to choose my preferred dining date and time. You will be asked to select the area you prefer to dine in – alfresco dining, counter seats or indoor tables. If you are headed for lunch, I strongly discourage the alfresco tables as it could be warm. That said, it does exude the vibes of a rustic Italian street if that is what you are looking for.
The best seats for pairs in my opinion are the counter seats where you get a good view of the kitchen action and pizza making.
The Food One caveat is that every diner has to go for a Fixed Menu (S$139++ per person), which has 5 courses. In addition, there is also an ala carte menu on top of the Fixed Menu should you wish to order more.
The first course is the Antipasti and I get to choose one of the three options, eventually settling for the Dolomitic Pan-Fried Cheese which sounds too good to pass. This is one of the signatures of chef Antonio, and the portion is a bite-size of oozing melted cheese. No pungent cheese smell at all. A strong start to the meal!
The second course is the Doublecrunch selection with four options to choose, where each diner can pick one flavour. The Rantee and myself each had the slice of Homemade Anchovy, Smoked Burrata, Tomato, Aromatic Herbs; and the slice of Mortadella, Ricotta, Parmigiano Reggiano.
It is termed double crunch because the texture of the dough here is very crispy, and the ingredients rest beautifully on the crunchy dough. The flavour which works better for me is the anchovy and burrata, a flavourful and delicious combination which I wouldn’t mind having another slice.
The third course is the Newpolitan Pizza where you get to choose one flavour out of the three options for the table. I had the combination of Sardine & Shallots and the Pachino Tomato & Parmigiano Reggiano.
The pizza texture is fluffy at the edges and relatively thin elsewhere, the type of texture I fancy as it makes it a lot easier to eat without making a mess. I enjoyed both flavours here, with the sardine and shallots being very distinctive and sharp in flavour.
It was then nice to move on to the tomato and cheese flavour for something more comforting.
I guess my only gripe is that parts of the pizza edges are overly burnt.
The last savoury course is the Piatto Principale, where you get to choose one flavour for the table. I went for the Pappardelle, White Pork Ragu, Salted Ricotta from Belluno. It was fun watching how the chef was preparing the pasta right before me.
Served in a pan, it spots a nice al dente texture, flavourful and yet it also showcases a home-style cooking. I like that it is presented as is with no fanciful plating, as the delicious flavour is enough to draw my attention.
For dessert, each diner gets to choose one option so we settled for the Hazelnut Semifreddo and Sicilian Cannoli, Chocolate Crunch, Pistachio. The desserts are good, but not as impressive as the savoury dishes for me. Regardless, you get very good hazelnut and pistachio quality here.
Rants Not cheap primarily for a pizza and pasta meal but it really pays off for an artisanal dining experience. And needless to say, scoring a table can prove to be challenging.
Will I Return Again? It is a carb heavy meal and there are items which I am keen to try on the ala carte menu. La Bottega is best enjoyed with a small group of friends or family and that is enough reason to head back to try more dishes. Another commendable point is the unpretentious service, where the dishes served are well-explained by the friendly service crew.
Taste bud: 4.5/5
Hole in the pocket: 4.5/5
Overall Experience: 4.5/5
La Bottega Enoteca
346 Joo Chiat Road
Tuesday to Saturday: 6pm to 10:30pm
Sunday: 11:15am to 3pm
Closed on Mondays
Ranted by The Ranter