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FIRST LOOK: Bottega Americano

Downtown's first gourmet food hall opens this weekend

By Troy Johnson

Well. This is beautiful.

A friend in the industry, a straight shooter not usually given to hyperbole, first described Bottega Americano to me when it was in its infancy. “It’s unlike anything I’ve seen in San Diego yet,” she said. “It’s going to be big.”

Now we see why. Located in the ground floor of the LEED-certified Thomas Jefferson School of Law, the 8,000 square-foot Bottega Americano is among San Diego’s first to embrace the food hall movement happening in parts of the U.S. The most notable trailblazer of this trend is Eataly, Oscar Farinetti and Mario Batali’s restaurant-and-retail concept in NYC and Chicago. There’s also Joan’s on Third in L.A., and Menu MBK in Washington, D.C.

FIRST LOOK: Bottega Americano

Bottega Americano menu

Click to view the menu (PDF)

The idea is simple. Instead of a restaurant on its own, create a multi-faceted food environment where someone can come for their morning espresso, then lunch, pop in for afternoon grocery shopping, return for dinner and a nightcap at the bar. Be everything to everyone.

Bottega is a partnership between East Village investor, Chad Ruyle, and three well-respected names in San Diego food: Giuseppe Ciuffa (Giuseppe Restaurants & Fine Catering), restaurateur Greg Van de Velde (formerly the manager of Mister A’s), and talented chef David Warner (ex-JRDN). For the clean, white-tiled design paying homage to 1950s Italy, they enlisted designer Thomas Schoos (Searsucker, Puesto Headquarters). It marks another big deal brokered by Michael Burton and Danny Fitzgerald at Urban Strategies.

Inside, the gourmet market will sell coffees, cookbooks, honeys, olive oils, sauces, macaroons, cocktail mixers, fresh foods packaged to-go, etc. There will be a full espresso bar with hand-crafted syrups and flavored whipped creams created by Snake Oil Cocktail Company. For later in the day, Snake Oil has also created the menu for the adult bar, reworking some Italian classics and coffee-based cocktails.

The restaurant portion of Bottega includes a bit of everything, prepared in the open kitchen in front of guests. Start with Italian (and California) wines, including multiple white selections from Veneto, Italy and even a Lambrusco (Italy’s wrongly maligned “wine cooler” wine). Their charcuterie selection includes prosciutto San Danielle, speck and duck prosciutto. Their cheese board has the soft wonder that is Robiola Tre Latti, plus the uncommon Casatica di bufala (the buffalo-milk cheese that’s not mozzarella).

They’ll have Italian and local craft beer, starters (tomato bread soup!), a full crudo list (oysters, house-cured salmon, yellowtail with brown butter crumble), house-made pastas (garganelli with spicy lobster broth), pizzas (fennel sausage with cauliflower panna cream), and full-sized piatti (lamb osso bucco with mascarpone polenta, whole branzino).

Bottega Americano opens this Sunday, Aug. 31. It’s located on the corner of Park and Island, across from the new Downtown library (1195 Island Ave.).

Bottega Americano. It’s a restaurant. It’s a market. It’s the future.

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