Sat, Mar 24, 2018 - Page 13 News List

A tale of two Italys

Choosing family over commerce for the best of meals

By Diane Baker  /  Staff reporter

The frattoria platter for two people at Botega del Vin.

Photo: Diane Baker, Taipei Times

This is a tale of two restaurants: a tale of love, passion, regret, mass marketing — and “scientific research.”

It starts with Botega del Vin, one of my favorite restaurants for several years, from its original tiny inception in an alley off of Guandu S Road to its present incarnation on a lane off of Zhongxiao E Road, right next door — as is so often the case in Taipei, to another eatery (supposedly) featuring the same cuisine.

While the move to a larger premise allowed for more tables and window frontage, Botega del Vin remains a small family-run restaurant, helmed by the ever-cheerful Giorgio Trevisan, whose culinary skills are partly hereditary, as his parents and grandmother ran a trattoria in his hometown of Colognola ai Colli, Italy.

Trevisan moved to Taipei almost two decades ago and worked at some well-known Italian restaurants before opening the first Botega del Vin five years ago with his son, Andrea, and a family friend, Matteo.

The restaurant features the cuisine of northern Italy, and the love of what they make and attention to detail shines through every bite.

The gnocchi with Gorgonzola sauce, which I christened “pillows of love” the first time I tasted them, are reason enough to go.

The gnocchi are light and just melt in your mouth, while the little kick from the Gorgonzola makes you want to do a little happy dance right in your seat.

The gnocchi also comes with a pomodoro (tomato) sauce, but once you have had the Gorgonzola, why bother with anything else?

The dish is so good that carnivore friends who were once willing to split an order with a vegetarian of the Gorgonzola gnocchi and the spinach and ricotta ravioli — the ravioli cooked perfectly with just a bit of bite to the pasta and the centers melt-in-your-mouth delicious — are now demanding their own full order of the gnocchi.

The Trevisans et al keep things simple, except for their wine list, which is about four times as long as the menu.

There are eight to 10 antipasta or appetizer options, ranging from a caprese salad (mozzarella and tomato, NT$380) to antipasti misti platters for two to five people (NT$450 to NT$750), tonnato (sliced pork with tuna sauce, NT$280), a frattoria platter for two people (NT$380) that includes slices of salami, sausage, cheese, polenta, sauted onions and mushrooms and olives, and a grilled mix vegetables plate (NT$280), or the daily soup (NT$160).

In addition to the gnocchi and ravioli, the first course options include talligatelle with a choice of duck, porcini or meat sauce, maccheroni with sausage and truffle, as well as a risotto with porcini, all priced at NT$420.

The main courses range from a 10oz prime rib-eye steak and pan-fried lamb chops, at NT$820 each, to a veal fillet (NT$680) and roasted chicken (NT$650).

It is worth checking with your server or the blackboard over the kitchen window for the daily specials, which can include prosciutto and melon, beef ravioli, a mixed grill for four people, larger rib-eye steaks, a seafood special or osso bucco.

Depending on the number of people in your party, it is worth splitting a frattoria or antipasti misti platter, the grilled vegetables or one of the salads, as well as an order or two of pasta and then a main.

However, be warned that the tables for just two people can get crowded if you order several starters.

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