Lunch today at 2-week-old 𝗕𝗼𝘁𝘁𝗲𝗴𝗮 𝗠𝗲𝗱𝗶𝘁𝗲𝗿𝗿𝗮𝗻𝗲𝗮, George Town’s latest dining hotspot, which was started by Kuala Lumpur-based Italian restaurateur, Riccardo Ferrarotti. He was the one who helmed 𝗡𝗲𝗿𝗼𝘃𝗶𝘃𝗼 and 𝗡𝗲𝗿𝗼𝘁𝗲𝗰𝗮, two of KL’s top Italian spots back in the 2010s.
Step into 𝗕𝗼𝘁𝘁𝗲𝗴𝗮 𝗠𝗲𝗱𝗶𝘁𝗲𝗿𝗿𝗮𝗻𝗲𝗮, and one feels immediately transported from Penang to a small bistro in Italy.
The genial chef, Mark Colk, and the hyper-efficient maître d’ Gianluca de Biasi, made our lunch here a singularly pleasurable experience.
We started off with a bottle of rosé: Carvaletta Salento Negroamaro from the Puglia region, where our maître d’ Gianluca hails from.
There were 8 of us in our lunch party, so we were able to order a pretty good spread of the restaurant’s offerings to try:
Aglio Arrosto - whole roasted garlic, served with toasted bread, with salt & mustard - I’m a garlic-lover, so this was perfect!
Vive les Legumes - roasted vegetables, tomatoes, olives and shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano - this was Bottega’s most popular salad item from its KL outlet.
Slow-cooked baby octopus with tomato & white wine, served on toasted bread & topped with guanciale - very nice, as the texture was perfect.
Rolls of zucchini ribbons, with lemon & thyme, Cantabrian anchovies, artichokes & shaved, drunken cheese - my fave item at lunch, love the crisp crunch from the zucchini, and the complementary flavours from the tangy lemon, and the saltiness of the anchovies and cheese.
Burratina - burrata cheese with Parma ham, tomatoes, marinated sardines & basil - the inclusion of marinated sardines lifted the creamy burrata immeasurably.
Bikini Barcelona - crispy, toasted sandwich with smoked ham, melting cheese & gherkin - a rather rustic, more-ish version of this Barcelonin classic.
Piadizza, super-thin Italian dough filled with mozzarella, buffalo mozzarella, Parmigiano-Reggiano, heirloom tomatoes & Parma ham - this was touted as owner, Riccardo Ferrarotti’s personal favourite. It was good - the pizza dough used here resulted in the best textures we’d encountered in Penang.
O’ Cannello - baked hand-made cannelloni, filled with porchetta, ricotta, spinach & house tomato sauce - very flavoursome. I’d come back again for this.
Pizza Picante, with mozzarella, tomatoes, spicy salami, nduja, and red onion
Pizza Margherita - with mozzarella, tomato and basil
Cozze - mussels in white wine, garlic and parsley, served with toasted bread - not too enamoured with this dish, as the mussels tasted a tad overcooked.
Gambas al Ajillo - marinated prawns, sautéed with garlic, guanciale, white wine, parsley & pepper - very well-executed version of this dish here.
7-hour baked pork-ribs in red wine, bacon, celery, carrots, mushrooms & shallots - very tasty, with fall-off-the-bone tender pork ribs, with deep flavours.
It was the best spread of Mediterranean (mainly Italian here) repasts we’d had in quite a while. Only the tiramisu did not quite measure up to the restaurant’s own high standards here - the creaminess from the mascarpone was missing, and the obligatory alcohol kick from rum or coffee liqueur was also glaringly absent.
But that’s a minor quibble in an otherwise very satisfactory meal.
Our friendly regular waiter, Amir Harris - all the staff here were so generous with their smiles. I’d never eaten so much at one sitting in my life!
Bottega Mediterranea Penang
76 Lebuh Muntri (Muntri Street), 10200 George Town, Penang, Malaysia
Opening hours: 11am to 10pm, Tue to Sun. Closed on Mondays.