Located in downtown Los Angeles, Bottega Louie stands out in a mostly industrial neighborhood, surrounded by vacant businesses. Its gilded entrance and grand décor are impressive to say the least: the outside looks like an Americanized Ladurée (the famed French patisserie) painted a stunning white, adorned with golden engraved letters, while the inside is even more beautiful, clad in floor to-outstandingly high-ceiling white marble. Everything is open so that diners can see their orders being prepared while they wait to be seated. I really wanted to love this restaurant because it was just so beautiful. The food, however, does not reflect the impressive décor.
The menu is mostly Italian-California cuisine, full of pasta, pizza, meat,and fish. There is also a small portion section of the menu composed of various vegetables and meats to be shared like tapas. The restaurant uses sustainable and organic ingredients whenever it can, and takes a lot of pride in getting its produce from local farmer’s markets. A cocktail menu was presented at the beginning of the meal, and I ordered a cocktail called “Tequila Daisy,” a milky-pink concoction of tequila and juice. This was decent but not exciting, and arrived topped with a wilted orchid. For dinner, I ordered the Burrata pizza (topped with burrata, prosciutto, rapini and granna parmesan), and the Trenné pasta, as per our waiter’s advice, which was essentially pan-sautéed trenné pasta with braised rib eye, Tuscan black kale and shaved granna parmesan, and the fried squash blossoms. The pizza was the best dish we ordered, but it wasn’t outstanding. The crust was a little spongy, and the toppings were delicious by themselves, but a bit strange together. There was a strange aftertaste that I couldn’t put my finger on, and the toppings were overly salted. The trenné tasted mid-way between pasta and a French fry, and was dry, greasy and overly cooked. The steak in the pasta was decent, as was the kale, but it was a very strange combination of components that lacked cohesiveness. To end the meal, we ordered espresso. Typically, espresso is safe and mostly tastes the same at restaurants. This espresso was salty, sour, and had an after-taste of fish. Their beans come from Intelligentsia, but they were unrecognizable.
As for the service, we were swapped waiters midway through our meal, the second of which forgot about us for about 20 minutes. The food also came out lukewarm, and sporadically. Leaving the restaurant, however, we were tempted by a case of stunning baked goods and packaged foods; the restaurant makes its own macaroons and a special interpretation of a cupcake. An attached deli aslo sells a variety of side dishes and coffees.
Bottega Louie doesn’t take reservations, but you won’t need one because the restaurant has an enormous number of tables. The bar scene becomes popular as the night goes on, and the crowd is a good mix of every type of LA stereotype. Go for a drink: the cocktail menu is inventive, and the wine list exhaustive. And grab a box of macaroons on your way out; they come in an assortment of adorable pink boxes.