East Village's Newest Italian Restaurant: Bottega Americano

San Diego gets a very authentic eatery

Inside look: Bottega Americano

Located inside the Thomas Jefferson School of Law directly across the street from the city’s new Central Library in San Diego’s East Village, Bottega Americano is an Italian–inspired restaurant and specialty food marketplace that invites guests to dine in a fun and exciting dining hall.

Together, there are four notable Bottega owners who bring to life a new genre of dining inspired by old–world European style, including Giuseppe Ciuffa, founder and CEO of Giuseppe Fine Restaurants & Fine Catering; avid foodie, investor and East Village resident Chad Ruyle; restaurateur Greg Van de Velde, who most recently managed the iconic Bertrand at Mister A’s restaurant; and noted chef David Warner, formerly of San Diego’s beachfront hotspot JRDN. “My partners and I had a strong vision for the project from the beginning,” says Ciuffa. “Chef Warner and I work together with our culinary team on all of the menu ideas. So instead of having just one chef with only one vision, we are inspired by many different tastes, trends and experiences.” 

Designed by the renowned Thomas Schoos of Schoos Design, the restaurant’s 8,000 square foot interior pays tribute to 1950’s Italian glamour with a blend of crisp, modern graphics and old–world charm. A stone fire pizza oven and communal tables promise a social experience for all diners. “Thomas Schoos did an amazing job with the design and decor and worked closely with the four of us to bring our vision to life,” Ciuffa explains. “I love every corner of the restaurant and marketplace, especially the slick white marble and the wood floors.”

Reminiscent of a modern day Italian piazza, Bottega’s expertly curate food bars showcase an approachable menu that is prepared in direct view of guests. Within Bottega’s expansive space, patrons can enjoy full–service dining, sitting street–side for an alfresco meal, socializing over drinks at the bar, ordering freshly prepared food to–go from the gourmet marketplace or shopping in the retail area. “Chef Warner and I create dishes that connect classic, old school Italian dishes finished with touches of modern California cuisine. We bring the best of both worlds together,” Ciuffa explains. “We use top notch ingredients, most of the them sourced locally, and others coming from the absolute best purveyors from all over the world. Our philosophy is to keep it simple, keep it real, and most of all, keep it flavorful.” 

Menu offerings include handcrafted pizza and pasta, seafood, oysters, meats, cheeses, salads, sweets and pastries. Some menu items change on a weekly basis and specials are offered daily, but the core menu is set and updated seasonally. The fresh flavors and high–quality ingredients inspired by Chef Ciuffa’s Italian heritage meet the innovation of Chef Warner’s passion for California cuisine,making Bottega Americano the unique merging of two distinct palates. Chef Warner especially favors crudo dishes. “These dishes are a fun way get people out of their comfort zone!”

My visit began in the spacious bar area, where there’s plenty of room to relax and watch the bustling activities in the open kitchen. I was impressed with the extensive wine and beer selections, including local, regional and international labels. If you’re in the mood for something unique, be sure to ponder the cocktail menu, created by the renowned Snake Oil Cocktail Company, who specializes in fresh ingredients that pair perfectly with the dining menu. Adjacent to the bar is a free–standing salumeria, where you can create your own charcuterie plate, choosing from the flavorful meats and cheeses and accompanied with crostini and appropriate sweets, such as homemade jams, fruits, nuts and honeys.

My choice for crispy brick–oven pizza included something a little different. The delicate crust was covered with a white sauce made from cauliflower panna and goat cheese and accompanied by spicy fennel sausage, mozzarella, roasted tomatoes and kale. All of the flavors came together perfectly. Their homemade pasta selection is impressive and a display of the evening’s selections is always hanging for view. During this visit, I had to try the homemade meatballs made from a variety of ground meats and reminiscent of my Italian mother’s traditional recipe. The final dish of the evening, osso buco, is one of my favorite meat preparations; I love to remove the tender meat with my fork, knowing that the succulent bone is part of the final act. The chef ’s choice, lamb, was placed over mascarpone polenta with roasted tomatoes, braised kale and pine nut and mint gremolata. Simple, yet superb! 

Shoppers seeking specialty ingredients can peruse bright displays of cured meats, cheeses and dry ingredients in Bottega Americano’s retail area. “The market and our branded items set us apart,” says Warner. “You can take home a piece of Bottega Americano other than just in a doggie bag.”

Bottega Americano is open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and is also primed to bring rooftop events and indoor catering. Located on the corner of Park and Island, across from the new Downtown library (1195 Island Ave.)

Read more by Maria Desiderata Montana at San Diego Food Finds