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Apr 10, 2009 03:15 PM

Casual Dinner at Bottega Louie: report w/pics

Bottega Louie
700 S Grand Avenue (In the Brockman Building)
Los Angeles, CA 90014
(866) 418-9162

The night of the April DTLA Art Walk found us strolling through the gilt doors of the now opened and fully operational (except for beer on tap) Bottega Louie at the corner of 7th and Grand. Greeters met us at the door with little cups of brisket and jus for sampling. Delicious.

Having been shown around the night of the "friends and family only" soft opening last week, we walked straight to the bar for a strong drink and some food. There were two beautiful pizzas sitting out for customers to nosh on, gratis. D jumped at the chance to nom on the pizza Napoli with tomato, mushroom, olive and onion. The crust was thin and still pretty crispy despite sitting there for a little while and no longer being hot. The toppings were thin and elegant, just like I like pizza. Before giving this a final verdict I would have to try one straight from the oven, but my initial report is that it was pretty decent as pizza goes. Would it stand the "overnight on the kitchen counter" test? Hard to say.

This pizza bianco was also offered on the bar for clients to sample. C had a piece of this and said it was good...again hard to really give a full analysis unless it is served fresh from the oven and piping hot. But I love a pizza bianco, with arugula sans tomato sauce.

I love the menu at Bottega Louie. The emphasis is definitely Italian, but on Italian small plates. There are tons of options for veggies. Roasted red peppers, white beans, a stuffed artichoke, rosemary potatoes, hummus, broccolini, eggplant caponata, garlic spinach and the list goes on for quite some time. All kinds of side dishes, not that small, of vegetables, starches, legumes and proteins. I ordered the Brussels sprouts with almonds to see if they are as good as mine, and they are damn close. Like mine they are lightly caramelized and crunchy/chewy on the outside. Theirs are smaller. With roasted almonds. Very nice.

Of course I ordered the stuffed artichoke. Perhaps a hair overcooked, stuffed with oregano and bread crumbs and served in a small dish with some broth in the very bottom, I imagine to keep the stuffing moist. This was delightful. I will be ordering this again, mark my words.

I wanted to try their asparagus with egg. Meh. The egg was steamed and under salted. I was envisioning poached egg. The asparagus was cooked perfectly, but the egg ended up being a throw away rather than integrating into the dish.

D's rigatoni fresca was perfect. On the small side for a pasta, lightly dressed in olive oil with tomatoes, mozzarella and fresh basil. The perfect side to eat as a second course or share as a side dish. Or as an entree if you want to balance it with one of the many veggie selections.

C ordered something unusually rich, the ravioli stuffed with spinach and ricotta in a light cream sauce with sage and peas sans the usual pancetta. The cream sauce was not super light, but it was nicely cheeseless. I thought this had a lovely flavor and the stuffing in the ravioli was dense and spinachy.

C wanted a look at the store and bakery, so we had a quick stroll. Naturally, I wanted to try the macarons to see if they tasted as good as mine to match how much better they looked. Two out of three in my favor is not bad. The chocolate was not as good as mine. It had a strange aftertaste. The raspberry was better, but mine were more raspberry-y and my cookie was nicer. I cannot explain why, it just was. However, their passionfruit was immense. Deliciousness. The orange one to the right of the middle is their passionfruit. I suggest you try it when you swing by. You won't be sorry. Juicy, sweet, tropical goodness.

The man working the bakery counter asked if we wanted to take some bread home complimentary. Wow. C took the chocolate chip loaf he kind of forced on her, and I asked for ciabatta. I know they are just trying to win the hearts, minds and wallets of the locals by all this free food and good service. It is working. The chocolate chip loaf. While he had to kind of force this on us, we were all glad he did. It was all kinds of chocolate yeasty amazingness. We tore into it like zombies into a freshly severed limb. It was perfect for a little shared dessert al fresco as we walked the streets.

review with pics:

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  1. Great report! Thanks for sharing.

    1. The first time I was there I had Trenné - Braised Prime Rib-Eye With Tuscan Black Kale. It is the three sided Rustichella d'Abruzzo pasta that is sold in their market. The rib-eye is cooked till falling apart and paired with the black kale. The pasta is pan fried though which was off-putting to me. Very, very chewy.

      I was there again last night and had the Black Cod in parchment cooked with baby vegetables. I liked it.

      I also tried the Semifreddo and the Chocolate Peanut Butter Terrine. Guess which one was super rich.

      I'm looking forward to breakfast there Easter Sunday. And later still, trying the very appealing looking pizzas or steaks.

      1 Reply
      1. re: SilverlakeGirl

        I am considering Mother's Day brunch there. Would you report in on your brunch tomorrow? I cannot wait to hear if it's worthy. I love the smaller plates approach, and the prices are just right for me to imagine myself eating there very often, especially since it is so close to us!

      2. We only live a block away and have been anxiously awaiting the opening of Louie. We went for the first time last night and had such a lovely dinner. I agree with Lotta about the menu - it's delightful to read and order from. The two of us got the Modena salad, the ravioli, the brussels sprouts, the stuffed artichoke, and the portabella fries. All were excellent, and the portions (especially the salad and the brussels) made for a great value. It would be really fun to go with a group to try more things. The only slight criticism we had was that we were a little puzzled by the artichoke - it was hard to tell which parts you could eat and which you couldn't. But the brussels and the fries were particularly good and will definitely be ordered again.

        On top of the great food, the space is gorgeous, the service was excellent and very personal, and the crowd had great energy. And they sent us home with complimentary eclairs! We are so pleased to have this gem in our neighborhood.

        1 Reply
        1. re: aching

          I just took that sucker apart with my bare hands and ate it with my fingers and teeth. Totally barbaric, and totally delicious.

        2. We had dinner at Bottega Louie last night and I have mixed feelings.

          The place has a Vegas-y sort of scale-over-substance feel. The space is impressive with its super high celings and windows, but it feels impersonal and unfinished with bare white walls.

          There were either 4 or 5 women working the check-in desk. We were accosted by exuberance, confusion and augmented cleavage. This set the tone for the night.

          There is a ton of staff at this place and they have all been coached to be mercilessly friendly. Maybe some people like that, but I felt invaded.

          But the thing is the food was pretty good. We had a sausage pizza, an arugula salad and sides of brussels sprouts with almonds and beets with goat cheese. Everything but the pizza was excellent. The pizza was pretty good, but not great. The crust could have been crispier and too much cheese and sauce weighed it down.

          The sprouts, beets and salad were all extremely fresh and well-executed.

          We also had a couple of glasses of a nice Barbera. Our waitron failed to bring the third glass we ordered until we were finished eating, so she comped that and also gave us a free very tasty berry tart to make up for it.

          $57 before tip, which I thought was a pretty good deal.

          Not sure if we're going back though. The food was good, but it just wasn't fun.

          1 Reply
          1. re: scurvy

            This is just such a case of the subjectivity of experience. I recognize that they are kinda going all out in terms of staffing right now during their opening phase. Doesn't really bother me because I am sure it will tone down over time. Cleavage? I find it pleasant to look at. Ultimately, I found the food to be good and reasonably priced. And I like the somewhat dramatic movie set feel of the decor with the stark white walls and high ceilings. Nice to have somewhere glam to go that will not cost an arm and a leg.