Italy Bottega Turns Up the Heat With a New Executive Chef and Menu

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Italy Bottega Turns Up the Heat With a New Executive Chef and Menu

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On June 3, 2020 Federico Fanelli bravely opened Italy Bottega in the midst of the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. Nobody really knew anything back then about this virus causing the pandemic, how long it would last, and how bad it would be. But he persevered.

Born in Venice and raised in Rome, Federico believes that the rich Italian culture and cuisine represent a way of life meant to be experienced, tasted and enjoyed by everyone. So when he opened here, he aspired to bring a taste of Italy to St Pete.

Federico recently reached out to us to invite us in for dinner, since we had not been when he was at the helm.

Outside Tables
Outside Tables

The restaurant itself has a cozy, rustic, warm and inviting atmosphere. There are many bottles of wine for sale to take home, as well as other Italian market items.

Italy Bottega Market
Italy Bottega Market (photo by Haley Haman)

Federico had a management team running the business for about a year and he is now back at the helm since April of this year.

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Federico has now hired Chef Daniel Rabice, formerly of A Mano on 4th St N before it closed for a complete revamp. Chef Daniel has worked in and around St. Pete for many years and has a large following of clientele who come to eat his Utica, NY style of Italian cooking. The current menu features a few of his signature Utica dishes such as his Chicken Riggies and Rigatoni Carmine Rabice. While we were in for dinner on this occasion a table near us had driven from Sarasota for Chef Rabice’s cooking.

Chicken Riggies
Chicken Riggies
Rigatoni Carmine Rabice
Rigatoni Carmine Rabice

When we arrived Federico treated us to a lovely glass of Sicilian Catarrotto Insolia Chara. It is a refreshing white wine with notes of grapefruit and lemon zest. I really enjoyed this and would have it again.

Beautiful Italian White
Beautiful Sicilian Catarrotto Insolia Chara

Up first for food we had the rustic, yet luscious Meatballs Ricotta – homemade marinara, parmigiana reggiano and basil with a fresh scoop of ricotta. If meatballs are on the menu, Kevin must get them. These received the Kevin Godbee stamp of approval and I would order these every time. The scoop of ricotta just takes them to the next level.

Meatballs Ricotta
Meatballs Ricotta

A special featuring chunks of lobster in a scrumptious cream sauce with heirloom tomatoes and spaghetti? Yes, please. This was a no brainer. It tastes as good as it looks. The lobster was cooked to perfection – delicate and buttery. All of the flavors just sang in your mouth.

Lobster Pasta Special
Lobster Pasta Special

I wouldn’t normally order Shrimp Scampi, it’s not really my thing, but we wanted to step out of our wheelhouse and our waiter suggested it. This one is made with garlic, lemon, white wine, butter, orange liqueur, fresh angel hair and topped with a blood orange. It’s beautiful and the sauce had such a nice, light flavor combination but you could tell that the pasta water had not been salted (the pasta was missing that starchy, somewhat salty flavor) and was a tad overcooked and so were the shrimp.

Shrimp Scampi Alla Orange
Shrimp Scampi Alla Orange

The red wine that Federico brought over for our next dishes was outstanding. It’s a Valpolicella Ripasso Superiore. This was stunning with a rich, warming mouth feel, notes of red fruit, spices and cocoa on the nose, well rounded tannins and a slightly vanilla finish. It was so good, we bought a bottle to bring home.

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Valpolicella Ripaso
Valpolicella Ripaso

The wine paired beautifully with the Lasagna Bolognese – bolognese made with veal, pork and beef in a decadent besciamella sauce. Wow. Is all I have to say about this. How Kevin is with meatballs, I am with lasagna and I could eat this every day. It’s rich and decadent with flavors that just marry perfectly together. In fact, I just finished the leftovers today for lunch.

Lasagna Bolognese
Lasagna Bolognese

Amatriciana is just one of those dishes that I also crave and love to order wherever I go. This one is made with guanciale, san marzano tomatoes, pecorino romano and served with spaghetti or rigatoni. For us, it was a tad under seasoned and the spaghetti had the same issues of no salt in the pasta water and the pasta was not al dente. It was a very good dish besides those two things. Honestly we never knew about salting the pasta water to infuse the pasta as it cooks, until about five years ago. It really makes such a difference once you know. There are many people out there that this would not matter to at all.

Amatriciana Italy Bottega
Amatriciana

In closing, we thoroughly enjoyed our Italy Bottega experience. Federico will take great care of you. He was out on the floor with all of the customers while we were there. It’s a place that makes you feel like home.

Italy Bottega New Menu
Italy Bottega New Menu
Italy Bottega
  • Readers Rating
  • Rated 5 stars
    5 / 5 (13 )
$$
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  • Italy Bottega
  • (727) 954-4572
  • Pasta , Italian, Wine Bar
    • Tue - Sun 5:00pm - 9:00pm
  • View menu
  • 1045 Central Ave, St Petersburg, FL 33705, USA

Italy Bottega is an Italian Market, Restaurant and Wine Shop offering up great salads, pastas, flatbread and more.

DISCLAIMER: Kevin, Lori, Abby, Haley, Lindsey & Mahika do not dine anonymously (this would be impossible) and we sometimes get free food (though never expected). However, we dine with the locals and we support our own. You will always get honesty in a respectful manner. We do not include any large national or regional chains in our ratings and reviews. We focus on independent locally owned eateries exclusively.

PLEASE NOTE: Reviews reflect a certain moment in time. Some restaurants stay extremely consistent over many years, and some change for the better or worse. Some things that may change are: chefs, recipes, food suppliers, ingredients, philosophies, ownership, etc. We always hope that you have the same good, or great experience we had.
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