Unlikely as it seems, Lesley Chesterman had yet to review Bottega in the pages of the Montreal Gazette before today. True story; that was Sarah Musgrave who heartily endorsed the popular pizzeria back in 2006. Close to a decade on, and the Little Italy linchpin from brothers Fabrizio and Massimo Covone is as good as ever. In fact, Bottega's even better, asserts Chesterman. "After close to ten years in the game and with a myriad of competitors biting at their heels (and more popping up daily), this Little Italy hotspot is, as the French say, 'un incontournable' – a must."
It starts, of course, with dough fired up in a bespoke, 3,500-kg Vesuvian rock oven. A pizza with capicollo, cherry tomatoes, basil, and smoked provolone is, in a word, "Perfection!". Chesterman is not enthused about what she calls Bottega's "somewhat-soggy-centred pizza situation", however. "Authentic, I’m told, but still, not my preference." Relatively harmless, as far as quibbles go.
The critic takes pains to stress, crucially, that Bottega is more than just a pizzeria. There are solid cocktails, a superb Italian wine list, and a parade of small plates to explore as well. Meatballs, arancino, and fried calamari deliver the goods, and earn compliments like "textbook", and "exceptional." Larger plates, like rapini and sausages, and ricotta and basil ravioli, "lack pizzazz", but are still enjoyable.
Bottega's desserts (“crackling cannolis, chocolate and pistachio gelato, biscotti and luscious tiramisu”), attentive serive, and a groovy vibe, help seal the deal. This restaurant is a Montreal institution, writes Chesterman. Three fat stars on four.