Going out to a restaurant can be as dull as it can be enlightening. And let’s be honest, it’s be a loooooooong time since it was worth talking about a new restaurant in Geneva. In the last couple of years, we’ve seen the resto scene spruced up by a hamburger wave and a caravan of food trucks. Arnold et Julen and Living Room kicked some light and pizazz into our winter nights. These flecks of big city life have enlivened Geneva, no doubt.
Still, the core of Geneva’s restaurant scene has continued to degrade its customers with the same old menus and uninspired preparations. Even glossy hot spots like Da Matteo or countless others, gleaming as they may first seem, are equally dull under the surface. Because let’s be honest: the glitterati to whom they seem to cater most often barely have any interest in eating in the first place, lest it plump them out of their sequined mini dresses and Armani jeans.
Yet, with a few outstanding exceptions, this seems to be the audience Geneva’s up and coming restaurant industry has consistently targeted. There can’t seem to be too many overpriced bistros dressed up as hipster joints (the Quartier des Bains is crawling with them), cheap pizzerias, or kebab shops. But there hasn’t been a single nook in this town for an eatery that exists to impress people with the actual art of cooking, introducing us to creative, mind altering flavor combos. For that, well, we have London.
But friends, Geneva has taken a step closer to being a cosmopolitain city when, a few weeks ago, La Bottega Trattoria opened its doors on La Grand Rue. An Italian restaurant it says, and the menu structure, wine list and pasta dishes do seem to prove it is so. But this is not your traditional Da Paolo’s , your spritzed up Luigia, or your insultingly bland and simplistic Kytaly. This is the Italy of meaty ragouts and fine use of herbs. The Italy that looks outwards, to the green flavours of Scandinavia and beyond. The Italy that says Italy isn’t about the pizza or the tomatoes or even the pasta; it’s about a celebration of the ingredients, and the desire to elevate them through loving preparation and creative combinations. Move over nonna: your nephews Paolo and Fra just got back from their world tour and have taken over the kitchen.
Good restaurants can stop there, with a core of delectable, if not irreproachable, dishes. A great restaurant will take that core and put it into a stimulating shell. Here too, La Bottega delivers: its decor is distinctly contemporary, while echoing back respectfully to the old world, with a white tiled interior, industrial lamps, and a large old map of Europe hanging solo.
All told, dinner at La Bottega is like driving a 1950s Alfa Romeo Cabriolet with a fresh coat of paint and an immaculately maintained engine. It may not quite take us to London’s cutting edge, but it will give us a fresh and stylish taste of Italy.
But enough with words, place aux photos:
Aperiteasers followed by aperitivi
perhaps the highlight…
On Secondi thought…