The BEST Restaurant in Napa
First things first ... Yes, I'm from there. Yes, Michael Chiarello is my chef "idol". Yes, I have all of his cookbooks, and I even use them. And, yes, if you must know, I still DVR every Easy Entertaining and Napastyle and save them for hours of enjoyment on Saturday afternoons! For goodness sake, the guy serves "grits" at this place - who doesn't love an Italian who serves grits? (OK, he calls them polenta on the menu, then he brings them to your table and, having been forewarned of where you're from, he calls them "grits").
I LOVE food, and was not going to miss a to visit this place - it's one of only two places I made reservations for - when I was last in San Francisco. Just the chance of getting to dine at Bottega was enough for me, so the rest was completely over the top. And I think, what better time than today, after watching the Next Iron Chef - Super Chefs last night to share this!
As one of my "must dos" for a recent trip to CA and the wine country, I was so excited to have the opportunity to eat at Bottega. From the moment we walked in, until we were leaving the parking lot, where Chef Chiarello greeted us again and asked how our experience was, this was a most memorable evening.
The service is superb. Chef Chiarello and his staff go out of their way to ensure your comfort. The wine list is terrific, with wines ranging all over the board in price. Understanding that we don't get quite the selection in Birmingham as one might in CA, (and prepared to pay dearly to have a taste of things we don't get at home) I was particularly impressed that our wait staff actually recommended something that wasn't at the top of the $ scale. It was quite refreshing.
With respect to the food, I couldn't possibly pick one thing out that I loved the best - it was all awesome. The gnocchi, the salad, the desserts ... Everything was so fresh, the highest quality, and impeccably prepared. I would, however, tell you not to miss the Polenta Under Glass! Or the Chocolate Hazelnut Molten Cake ... don't miss that either.
The entire experience was fabulous. Chef Chiarello greeted us at the table a few times during dinner. He was so pleasant and made us feel as if we were the only people dining in his establishment that night. The next day, while shopping at his Napastyle store, we decided to have a glass of wine at the bar at Bottega. Chef Chiarello was right there - actually having a coffee cupping at the time - and made us feel comfortable at his bar with great conversation. More times than not, a "celebrity chef" is not involved in his/her restaurant. I can assure you, barring the final rounds of The Next Iron Chef - Super Chef, he's going to be there with his hands on your food, making sure that everything coming out of that kitchen passes his tests.
Not only can you not go wrong eating here - this needs to be on your destination list in Napa. You will not regret it.