I haven’t been to Italian restaurant Bottega since their refurbishment in 2007. A glass panel now slices the room in half, with leather booths on one side and longer tables on the other. We sat on the booth side, which for me was a little reminiscent of sitting in an American diner (I later found out this was ‘New York style’ fitout), but I guess carving the room up in such a manner does create intimate spaces so beloved of Melbourne restaurants.

The menu by Joseph Vitale doesn’t appear to have changed much in its approach since I was last there – familiar yet refined, high-end Italian dining.

I ordered an entree size hand cut semolina pappardelle with rabbit and porcini ($21), RM had a main course of cannelloni with pumpkin, sage and crushed amaretti ($28) and we shared a side of cauliflower, pomegranate, pinenuts and currants ($10).

My pasta consisted of generous sheets of the most sexy and silky pasta imaginable, topped with equally sublime forest-and-game flavours. RM’s cannelloni was a little on the sweet side for my liking and he thought that the serving wasn’t quite big enough. As for the side dish, I would have appreciated more of the sweet pops of pomegranate and currants to enhance the rather bland flavour of cauliflower.

Desserts were generally successful, though rather pricey. RM had a crisp cannoli filled with ricotta and garnished with the magical trinity of hazelnut, chocolate and orange – hazelnut and chocolate candied orange, bitter chocolate icecream. A truly Italian melange of crunch and creaminess for $17.50. I was in need of a slightly lighter dessert so went for the semifreddo ($17.50) which was creamy but otherwise not particularly memorable.

Bottega is one of those restaurants which is good when you go, but not so rave-worthy that it comes top of mind when you’re thinking Italian dining in the CBD.

For other Italian options nearby, try Italy 1 and Grossi Florentino Cellar Bar.

  • Bottega, 74 Bourke St, Melbourne +61 3 9654 2252

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