Bottega sits proudly at the top end of Bourke Street, where Melburnians take a moment to enjoy the culinary pleasures in life.
Opening in 2002, it set the standard for inventive Italian fare, enjoyed in a warm and inviting setting.
Denis Lucey has a wealth of experience in the hospitality industry, having climbed the ranks from apprentice waiter at Mietta’s to management positions in the Italy I and Bistro I restaurant group. It was an audacious move to open his first venture with such reputable neighbours, but Denis couldn’t resist the opportunity to do something a little bit different at Bottega.
The menu takes inspiration from regional Italian cooking, with several Sicilian influences. Dusty Treweek, formerly of Comme and Stokehouse, leads the kitchen team, using the highest quality produce across the entire menu. This includes lemons, nettle and oranges sourced from Denis’ farm in Rutherglen.
When it comes to the menu, classic offerings are served with a creative air. Stuzzichini, or sharing plates, include antipasto and house-marinated Mount Zero olives, but for something a little different, why not try the Sicilian fried cheese with roasted chestnuts and sweet beer jelly?
When it comes to larger plates, your options are endless. Flinders Island lamb is slow cooked, served with pea puree and a cannellini bean salad, while Tasmanian salmon is chargrilled, and accompanied by cucumber, black olive, crostini and dill. A baby beetroot salad with buffalo rico a and pickled shallots comes with a hazelnut and parmesan crumble, making it the perfect pair to the larger dishes. Game meats are the heroes of the pasta menu. Rabbit, venison and boar are made into luscious ragu and elegant ravioli, available in both entree and main sizes.
If you need any reinforcement to start the night off with a glass of prosecco, the wine list is topped with an Italian saying: “Water is bad for you and wine makes you sing”. Sing throughout the night with the extensive wine list, comprised by Head Sommelier, Ben Knight. Ben’s reputation precedes him, having worked in several of Melbourne’s nest venues, including Gin Palace and Vue de Monde.
Finish off on a sweet note, with a simple affogato or sobetti. Classic pannacotta is elevated with the subtle flavour of wild thyme and honey, served with sesame gelato and roasted rhubarb. Pair it with a glass of sticky and an espresso, before rolling out the door.
The sophisticated aesthetic contradicts the venue’s humble name, which translates to ‘workshop’ or ‘artisan studio’. Intimate leather booths and white-clothed tables evoke a plush New York–style dining room.
The packed tables during lunch and dinner are indication enough – Bottega doesn’t just talk the talk. It has earned its place as one of Melbourne’s finest Italian restaurants.