By Gayle Hendrix
Vail’s best kept secret!
If you are already familiar with this Vail mainstay, you may ask yourself “what secret? This place is always packed!” However, if you are not familiar with it, listen up! In a small ski village full of fine dining or quickie sandwich shops, La bottega finds a nice middle ground. Offering up Vail’s tastiest and heartiest sandwiches by day and comforting pastas and entrees by night, you cannot go wrong here.
Enter through the cozy wine bar lined with cushioned benches and Ron Wood artwork. You feel as though you have stepped into a chic grotto. You immediately feel comfortable here, as if you could just melt into your seat after a long day on the slopes. If your table is not ready, have a seat and enjoy an aperitif or one of their signature mixed drinks like “sex on the slopes”.
When your table is ready you are escorted into the busy dining room, modeled after a Tuscan farmhouse. Thick wooden planked floors and stone pillars guide you through. It is a casual dining room. Simple white lace curtains line the windows. You are overwhelmed by a feeling of coziness and comfort.
The wood burning oven is decorated in beautiful, hand painted Italian tiles of gold and blue. This is where their traditional, thin crust Italian pizzas are made. With a peek inside the oven as you pass, you already know that you want to try one. But, before I can think about food, I glance through their impressive wine list. With over 200 bottles of mostly Italian wines to choose from, one might feel intimidated. But don’t worry. You can just request that owner Elisabetta Virion stop by your table and pick something for you. After all, she has handpicked every one of these wines by herself. The pizzas make for a great starter. I went for the simple, yet delicious Margherita. With some guidance from our server, we decide that it is best to go “family style”. We order a number of dishes that we are told are must haves. There are so many options and everything sounds good. Penne “Frutti di Mare”, grappa glazed duckling, rapini and asiago soup.
We opt for the bresaola, arugula and parmesan bruschetta topped with fresh lemon. We are also informed that the jumbo bowl of mussels makes a great appetizer. Sauteed in butter, white wine and lots of garlic and herbs, this truly jumbo bowl of mussels does not disappoint. This holds true for the white truffle gnocchi as well. The gnocchi are like little bites of heaven!
So now I am pretty full and feeling as though I cannot go on. But I am told that I cannot miss out on the award winning tiramisu. I don’t usually like tiramisu but I go for it….. after a glass of grappa of course! My server was right. It is not to be missed. Do yourself a favor if you are in Vail and stop by La Bottega.
100 E Meadow Dr # 37
Vail, CO 81657