Sunday, April 24, 2011

Osteria la Bottiglia, Charleston, SC

Can Somebody Please Turn Up The Lights?
Bar At Osteria la Bottiglia
I read about the opening of this restaurant the other day.  We have a good friend coming to visit this week and since it’s an Italian restaurant and she loves Italian food, off we went.

Like Leaf, a restaurant that opened a few weeks ago, it has no social media presence. No facebook, twitter, webpage… you name it, nothing.  AND, unlike Leaf it has no signage.  Unless we knew that it was at 420 King Street we would have never found it.  You would think a menu would be in the window for passersby to see and to draw attention to it.  Nah, I guess their thoughts are, “If you build it they will come.”

Having worked with Metromedia Restaurant Group (they were the parent of Steak and Ale, Bennigan’s, Ponderosa and Bonanza), many years ago, Osteria seemed immediately like a throwback to Steak and Ale, a brand created in 1969 by the restaurant legend, Norman Brinker. 

Looking Out From The Back Dining Area
It is a very narrow, shot gun space with tables and high tops as you enter followed by a long bar.  The tables are dark wood and the high tops were made by the owner (we overheard this). The walls have dark framed mirrors and they are waiting for framed prints for the walls to be delivered, so the walls are bare.  The ceiling looks more like a floor than a ceiling created with dark salvaged wood from former homes in Charleston. The kitchen and more seating are in the back.  Seating in the back is a small stucco walled room with dark beams.  I really thought I was going to bump into a salad bar like I would have at Steak and Ale.

We had not heard much about the restaurant. One post stated that the ticket times were very long on the night that they were there and another liked his salad, but that’s about it. We also heard that there is not a hostess to seat you and that it was somewhat confusing, which was true.  It wasn’t very busy and we were seated rather quickly.

We sat near the bar at a high top that was rocking.  The server explained that the tables rocked because “they moved them around so much.”  Although she said she would get something to fix it, she didn’t.  Thank goodness I am a high maintenance coffee drinker and keep Sweet ‘N Low in my purse. That did the trick.  Can’t someone pay attention to the little things?

The menu is moderate in size, but the restaurant was so dark we had to use the light from both our cell phone and the votive candle to read it. They offer 3 soups, 4 brushcettas, 3 appetizers, 6 pasta selections, 6 salad/veggies and duck confit, Cornish hen and a fish of the day.  House made desserts are also available. So if you can’t find their menu on line (which we couldn’t), there it is.

We started with a cocktail, bottle of sparking water and an order of the artichoke brushcetta.  Our beverages were served rather quickly, but with my beverage, served in a martini glass, they “Damn near missed it,” as my dad would say when something was rather skimpy.  My glass was literally half full.
Artichoke Bruchetta
The artichoke brushcetta was served in a pool of olive oil.  With the lack of light it was hard to see if there was any pecorino romano cheese, as advertised and the garlic was overpowering.  The bread was so heavily toasted it was like we were eating a large, oily crouton.  I am certain that we made some noise chomping on it, but there was no way around it.

You Thought We Were Kidding About The Sign?
We decided to share two pasta dishes for dinner.  Their pastas are made in house and were appealing.  While we were waiting for our dinners to arrive we started to watch what appeared to be the owner tour the restaurant.  He stopped at the table next to us who appeared to be friends of his. He poured wine, chit chatted and moved on. He then went to the table in the front of the restaurant, the lone table by the window - chit chatted and moved on.  Two tables down from us and the table next to us had the same personalized visit.  Ours was the only table that he did not stop at. I was beginning to get a complex. 

We found out through these visits that the restaurant opened on Tuesday after a very long wait. They were supposed to be open last July and are currently in disagreement with the city about their logo, hence, no signage.

Before we knew it our dinner was served. One thing that I can say is that our service was good and the food was served very quickly.

We ordered the Lobster Ravioli Served on Spicy Lobster and Wild Fennel Tomato Sauce “Sardinian Style”. (We took a picture of the menu, so this is the exact menu copy.) We additionally ordered the Tagliatelle Served with Wild Boar Ragout Sauce. At $18.00 and $15.00 these were the most expensive items on the menu.  The menu is very moderately priced.
Tagliatelle Served with Wild Boar Ragout Sauce
Lobster Ravioli
Stem billowed from the plates as they were sat down in front of us. I thought, “Finally, very hot food.”  But alas, my dreams were dashed. The sauces were very hot and my lobster sauce had a nice kick to it.  The Boar Sauce had a nice flavor but the little chunks of boar within the sauce were so incredibly tough it was hard to chew them. Most disappointing was that the pastas were served tepid at best.   They must have been platted ahead of time?  Even the hot sauces didn't help. The Lobster Ravioli had somewhat of a fishy taste, so I wouldn't recommend it. 

After all the time they waited to get this off the ground, it still needs some work. Can someone turn up the lights?

We gave Osteria la Bottiglia 2 out of a possible 5 plates.

Osteria La Bottiglia  on Urbanspoon


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