2013-10-23 / Restaurant of the Week

La Bottega Italian Gourmet

40-17 30th Ave.  Astoria  718.728.8620

Since it opened just one year ago, La Bottega has become the local favorite of many Astorians and Queens residents alike who come for the excellent paninis, homemade soups, salads, pasta dishes, entrees, gourmet coffees and desserts. La Bottega has it all, seven days a week from 10:30 am until 10pm on weeknights and 11pm on weekends. Now they do a brisk delivery business thanks to the sites listed below. The comfortably appointed dining room features distressed wood, exposed brick and amber-colored walls illuminated by soft lighting, creating a very cozy and relaxed, and informal environment. There are sturdy tables with silverware wrapped in napkins, and a quaint banquette in the rear, illuminated by candles. Angela, a “local” diner was there with five close friends. “The food is excellent,“ she proclaimed, “and so is the service. We take out even more often than we eat in…the kids love it!”

Owners Strato and Sal are proud to be celebrating their one year anniversary and are constantly striving to improve La Bottega to offer the best specials and menu items to their clientele. Strato even mixes up his own sangria every night, which is so refreshing, or choose your favorite wine, beer or soft drink to accompany your meal. Start with an assortment of freshly made bruschetta (pronounced broo-SKEH-tah) assembled on crunchy, toasted Italian bread, topped with classic tomatoes, prosciutto, Parmesan and arugula. Some are topped with mozzarella and basil, shrimp, or goat cheese, raisins and walnuts. For $10, you can share a tasting of six different ones to start your family dinner. Fried calamari are tender and crispy, and the baked clams are exceptionally fresh, baked until the breadcrumbs on top are golden and served with a delectable sauce for soaking up with warm bread ($9.75). Eggplant rollatini is rolled with fluffy ricotta and the kids love the fried zucchini sticks, hand cut and never frozen. Order the “Salumeria” and the table will dive into cuts of Italian cold cuts, cheeses, olives and roasted peppers.

La Bottega makes nine delicious homemade soups each day, many of which are suitable for vegetarians. Try hearty chicken vegetable, pasta e fagioli, lentil, minestrone or cream of broccoli or one of the special soups of the day. On the menu you’ll find 28 impressive salads tossed with fresh greens, vegetables, cheeses, shrimp, chicken, steak, salmon or roasted turkey. The“Bietole” is composed of ruby red beets resting on mixed greens and tossed with sweet, roasted corn, crunchy toasted walnuts, tomatoes and crumbled goat cheese for the perfect autumn salad ($8.75). The honey Dijon dressing was presented on the side, to be added as you like. The pollo-guacamole salad is one of the most popular, made with tender, grilled chicken, mixed greens, Gaeta olives, red onion, carrots and toasted almonds with balsamic dressing. The “Romana” is topped with grilled shrimp and fresh mozzarella while the roasted salmon salad is combined with diced butternut squash and wasabi peas for a little kick, topped with orange dressing.

La Bottega Italian Gourmet has an amazing variety of 60 panini to choose among starting at $8. Each is perfectly constructed on fabulous ciabatta, whole wheat, rustic hero or krispina bread. There are several gluten-free items on the menu, as well as mini panini for kids. Choose turkey, cured Italian meats, grilled chicken, shrimp, roasted turkey, or vegetables piled onto delicious bread with savory toppings. I love the “Udine” made with grilled chicken breast, roasted red onion, mozzarella and arugula or the “Terra” with roasted Portobello mushroom, broccoli rabe, roasted pepper and grilled zucchini.

Besides all the outrageous paninis, salads and soups, La Bottega prepares pasta dishes and entrees that rival those of any fancy Italian restaurant. Orechiette are earshaped pasta prepared with sautéed broccoli rabe, garlic and fine olive oil. Linguine with shrimp and cherry tomatoes is another popular item, with a touch of pesto and cream. Fusilli is mixed with sun-dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, zucchini and fresh mozzarella for a meatless dish. Meanwhile, Angela’s table next door was enjoying pollo mozzarella with broccoli rabe and savory salmon sautéed with creamy Dijon mustard sauce ($19.50) Save room for dessert because the seasonal pumpkin cheesecake topped with pralines is delicious. Or try the house made tiramisu, Italian cheesecake, or their crunchy cannolis, filled on the spot. There’s always creamy gelato and the best Italian coffee and coffee drinks in town! Now La Bottega comes straight to your door in minutes via grubhub.com, seamless.com, delivery.com as well as their own Web site. There’s no excuse not to try their delicious panini, pastas, soups, salads and entrees so come in, call, or log on today for a very memorable meal seven days a week. Bon appetito!

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