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Nov 23, 2007 04:13 AM

Bottega - Review

Hi all,

Went to Bottega in Lil' Italy recently and thought I would share some observations.

Firstly, as starters we orders the olives, calamari, and a roquette salad. Aside from the calamari, which is one of those dishes I use to gauge the overall ability of the kitchen and the freshness of their inventory, the other dishes were good but unremarkable. While the olives were fresh, there weren't enough of them to really enjoy! As I mentioned we also ordered calamari, which were lightly battered, and not drowning in oil. They were light and definetly got the evening off right.

As mains, we obviously ordered pizzas. Their claim to fame is their special oven imported from Italy. The pizzas, one caprese, one with rapini, were good, but seemed to skimp a bit on toppings. I had one twig of Basil on my caprese, and there wasn't even enough rapini for each of the four slices of my gf's pizza! Taste-wise though, it was excellent. Just enough tomatoe sauce, and the crust was amazing. If anything this is where to get a good pizza that you won't feel guilty about eating!

I had a half bottle, which was very good, and smart of Bottega to offer. I only wish more restos in Montreal offered half bottles because drinking by the glass just doesn't work for me.

Overall, the atmosphere was good, not pretentious, and the decor was fresh, if slightly sterile. I would say try to head over there on a Thursday because the ruckus on Fridays and Saturdays could get a bit too much. Enjoy!

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  1. It kind of infuriates me how few toppings they put on their pizzas. It makes me feel really ripped off, actually. I know that this style of pizza is supposed to have fewer toppings than American style pizzas, but they are really pushing it with the minimalism.

    7 Replies
    1. re: mainsqueeze

      I wouldn't be as annoyed about the minimalist toppings if the prices matched...I still find that spending almost $100 for 3 pizzas and 3 drinks is a little pricey to warrant making it one of our regular haunts...

      1. re: cherylmtl

        Agreed. Either charge less or put more stuff on my pizza.

        1. re: mainsqueeze

          No matter what they charge, there's no excuse for being so skimpy on the toppings. All I ask for is to get enough basil (or anything else) to have some in every bite. Bottega doesn't even give me a leaf for every slice.

          On top of that, my pizza was a soggy mess because the tomatoes weren't drained before being added.

          The crust is pretty great though, and I would go back in a New-York minute if they took care of these small issues.

          1. re: SnackHappy

            I tend to agree, although I wasn't that impressed with the crust on my one visit there. I thought it was too spongy. As I said on another thread:

            "[The pizzas] looked splendid when they arrived. The ingredients were fresh and aromatic. There was only two or three basil leaves on her Margherita, however, which I though odd. For a Margherita the basil is an ingredient, not a garnish.

            Here's the strange part -- the crust (the thing I had the highest hopes for) disappointed. It looked great -- puffy on the edges, thin in the middle, and nicely blistered with a few spots bordering on (but not crossing over into) burnt.

            But it was too soft! In fact both were bordering on undercooked on the inside. I was expecting crispy on the outside and soft inside, but they were both soft and spongy, inside and out.

            In the middle, especially under the tomato sauce on the Margherita, it was downright soggy.

            They weren't inedible by any stretch -- we finished them both. The mushrooms on my pie were delicious, and the smoked provalone was very mild and understated, which was good. The sauce and cheese on the Margherita were tasty, although I wonder if they shouldn't drain the tomatoes a bit, as the sauce was quite wet (too wet, I'd say)."

            I should also note that the starters we had, while not going to win any awards for originality, were very fresh and used top quality ingredients and preparation.

            But yes, drain those tomatoes, and maybe harden up the flour in the dough a bit.

        2. re: cherylmtl

          What pizzas and drinks did you order? Most pizzas were hovering in and around $15 each when I visited a couple of weeks ago. This isn't a one trick pony that can only do pizza either, which I find refreshing - I thought that the lamb chops and gelato were also fantastic. I dig the vibe, I dig the food, and if they'd just leave my pizza in the oven for another 30 seconds, I'd be much closer to perfectly satisfied.

          1. re: afoodyear

            We just had three ordinary pizzas, two glasses of wine, and whatever Italian soft drink my son ordered - but when you start totalling the cost of three pizzas at around $15 each, plus two glasses of wine, and the soft drink, plus tax and tip, it adds up. Which is a little steep for a pizza meal, IMHO. Not that it wasn't good, but my point was that, at that price, it's not a place I'd head to on a weekly basis.

            1. re: cherylmtl

              Fair enough, I just don't think it any more expensive than comparable to, say, if Domino's served wine, for considerably better quality.

      2. The lack of toppings is very true to the Italian way of making pizza. If you go to Italy you don't get pizza loaded with toppings. You get minimal amounts no matter which restaurant you're in. The chef mastered his craft in Naples so it makes sense that he is very authentic. Bottega is the closest thing to real Italian pizza that I've had outside of Italy

        5 Replies
        1. re: italianchic

          in a true italian meal, would pizza be considered a first course, primo piatti,
          and the client be expected to order a meat course ? I suspect the higher price is to compensate for the fact that we would eat the pizza only for our main meal and order nothing else.

          I agree with italianchic, in italy the pizza is not very garnished; I liked the quatro stagione pizza over there, it has 4 different garnishes on each quarter, not a type of pizza I've seen here. A more substantial pizza in italy was the one with the mozzarella di buffalo, which was made fresh every day, yummm.

          1. re: superbossmom

            In Italy, pizza is most typically served at a pizzeria - a specific establishment does pizza, salads, a few extras. It is not a heavy meal with a lot of courses - perhaps the diners have had their main meal at midday - which would have been traditional anywhere in southern Europe but is tending to change now with the uniformisation of European labour markets - addio siesta!

            An Italian pizza is not typically heavily garnished, dripping with cheese etc but from what I'm reading here, Bottega seems to be taking minimalism a bit too far.

          2. re: italianchic

            Italianchic overemphasizes the lack of toppings on an Italian pizza. The difference typically is not in quantity of toppings, it's in the variety of toppings. In Italy, pizzas typically feature one or two ingredients (as opposed to the "combination" pizzas we find here). The exception is the capricciosa or the quattro stagioni (although with the latter, your four ingredients are typically sectioned off into four distinct areas on the pizza). For instance, a prosciutto pizza will have the prosciutto layered in strips across the pizza. Meaning on most bites you will get a taste of the topping - you don't get heaps of toppings, but they aren't scarce either. This is largely true for any pizza you get.

            Lastly, a margherita pizza in Italy refers to a pizza with tomato and mozzarella, usually w/ no basil, or with basil only as a garnish (not, for instance, shredded or otherwise arranged around the entire pizza).

            1. re: fame da lupo

              «Italianchic overemphasizes the lack of toppings on an Italian pizza.»

              If, as seems likely, Italianchic's frame of reference is your typical Montreal pizza, there's no overemphasizing going on.

              1. re: fame da lupo

                In Italy, I never saw a margherita pizza without basil.- usually whole leaves arranged on the pizza - 4 would be typical for a small pizza.. Part of the tradition is that the pizza reflects the colors of the Italian flag.

            2. One of these days I'm going to go back there and count how many pieces of sausage and how many spears of rapini are on their pizza and report back. I swear the last time we went there were no more than three small spears of rapini about four or five small chunks of sausage meat on my 10" pizza.

              1. While I have not tried Bottega, other venues around the city proved that you either have pizza in Napoli or... make it at home. Soggy crust, dried basil on a Margherita, and other unpardonable blunders make me wonder who in their right mind would pay $10-20 for a poor man's dinner (remember that la pizza was conceived by the working class).
                Next time, do yourself a favour and stay at home: there's nothing like preparing your own pizza with friends on the weekend.

                As a side note, it really bothers me that none of the places I visited use mozzarella di buffala for their margheritas. Believe it or not, the Italian governement actually regulates what ingredients are to be used by the restaurants that serve pizza. You can look it up online to get a general sense of what an authentic pizza napoletana should taste like (there's a link at the bottom of this post if you read Italian).

                fame da lupo: fair enough if we're talking about a margherita, but most people think of pizza napoletana even when they say 'margherita'. So that there be no confusion, here is a copy of the official document that outlines the preparation of the EU food specialty:

                1 Reply
                1. re: erufiku

                  Grazie! That was a rather frightening example of Eurocratese! I have nightmares about having to translate it... nice that they specify that the garlic must be peeled...

                2. i went there expecting some amazing pizza, hopefully somthing close to what you might get in italy or ee in New York. What i got was a fancy pizza resto that serves mediocre pizza to na upscale crowd.

                  One basil sprig? Gimme a break.

                  Montreal sucks for pizza.
                  I am off to NYC next month and will report back on at least 2 pizza joints that will hopefully make really good pizza. A super hot oven, good crust, fresh mozza, and basil!

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: spankyhorowitz

                    I heard great things about Bottega so i decided to go a couple of months ago. I really wasn't that impressed. The pizza crust was very spongy & chewy as someone said before and half way through the pizza my jaw started to hurt :)

                    As for the toppings , i really don't mind when they limit the choices as long as the flavour
                    isn't bland.

                    Over hyped in my opinion.

                    1. re: mrbuster

                      We recently went back to Bottega and I loved it even more this time around. We had a few arancini and grilled peppers along with two pizzas and everything is just so good. I guess the crust might be preferential depending on what you want from pizza, but beyond pizza, all their other offerings are prepared quite well too. Everything from their basic chili oil to their desserts have been good to me thus far.

                      1. re: afoodyear

                        I was there a month ago and loved it; we're going back saturday. We shared a few appetizers and pizzas to make a meal. I can see someone not liking the minimalist pizza, if you're expecting a hefty portion of toppings. Buyer beware, I guess. I personally love their crust and base sauce.

                        1. re: superbossmom

                          I was there yesterday with friends. Everyone got their own appetizers and shared a pizza and a calzone. The pizza was good-- not great but I think for $15 it's just fine, the crust is the best part! But my favorite of the meal was my meatball for an appetizer, it was so tender and filled with taste. Definitely try the meatball