700 S Grand Avenue (In the Brockman Building)
Los Angeles, CA 90014
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.
My martini was beautifully constructed.
And because I am a sucker for packaging, I love that the glass that accompanies the bottled beer is short. I imagine drinking Peroni out of a glass this size at a street corner cafe in Italy.
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 like the bartenders' set up. All the different types of fruit and the hand juicer in the background tell me a lot about what the bar might be capable of producing and the intention of the bar manager. I asked the bartender for the drinks list, and he seemed apologetic that it was based in classic cocktails, promising me that although that is the bar's focus, he could make me anything I could think of. Challenge on! I asked for a jamaica margarita. HA! Fail. I am not surprised he could not make one. I am however surprised he had no idea what jamaica is nor what aguas frescas are. Vierd. The other bartender was having a long hand gesticulating discussion with the folks to our left by the window, one of whom just happened to be D's uncle. We had such a lovely reunion.
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.
Himalayan salt. Why? Just, why?
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.
Here are the breads.
And here are more of the breads. 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.
Last night these tarts in particular grabbed me emotionally. They look just like a spring daisy.
The chocolate chip loaf. He had to kind of force this on us, and 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.
Afterward we walked the west side of downtown, our new most favorite thing. We walked past Mother Road burgers and I had to reflect. My friend T from Sinosoul was in Mother Road when they first opened, wanting to eat and blog, and the manager chased him out for taking pics without asking while making ride comments about food bloggers to a member of his staff. Mother Road was 100% empty at 9 pm on a Thursday evening. I hate to see any business bringing something new to downtown fail. But I cannot help thinking some positive spin and hype from trusted local food bloggers can only help business. Just saying.
We ended the night on an up-note downing a couple cocktails at Rivera. The above and below are called the Purple Rain. It is one of the best drinks I have ever had. I can taste it in my mouth right now. I see myself sitting in Rivera drinking these once a week all summer long. Fizzy and fruity and not even a touch too sweet.
I had preceeded the Purple Rain with the Donaji. Suffice to say the Donaji is made from some wonderful ingredients, then the glass is rimmed with Oaxacan salt with cricket bits. Nom not. I was happy to wash the taste of crickets out of my mouth with the lovely libation.