They haven't exactly re-invented the culinary wheel there, but La Bottega has definitely added value to the ever-improving Woodstock restaurant scene. (Remembering Superette and The Kitchen)
Set in Buchanan Square (opposite Banks) the decor is the (cliched?) exposed bricks mixed with more modern materials like steel and wooden decking. A blackboard lists the specials which I'm told change every day or two. What is not a cliche, however, is the enthusiasm the owners bring to the place. We were greeted, sat and partly served by one of them who looked unbelievably young. I'm pretty sure if he walked out of his bar and into another one he might be asked for ID. The pride for his restaurant was there for everyone to see though and I'm always impressed by that. He took us through the menu which is basic and Italian in origin. The focus is on ciabatta (which they bake daily), pizza, pasta and salad. I was impressed to see things like marinated artichokes, roasted peppers, high-quality mozzarella and pork loin featuring. My lunch was good enough - fresh ingredients and well seasoned but to be honest it's not somewhere you go for a fine-dining experience. It's chilled. The waiter called me bru and openly perved my car. That's the vibe there. The owner (Alistair by the way) was wearing a baseball cap and doing it unapologetically, which I actually liked. They're not being arrogant but they certainly know what they are all about.
I was busy thinking how much I HATE bedouin tents (they have a huge orange one covering their awesome deck) when I heard Alistair telling another table how it is only temporary and they plan to build something more permanent. When they do, I can see this place becoming very popular for after-work drinks. He tells me they already heave on a Friday. What they do is put bowls of free food out (free bowls guys...like free bowls) and only ask customers to pay for drinks. You buy a R100 booklet which gets you 7 drinks. Bloody hell that's a good deal. No wonder it already heaves.
Give them a call on (021) 461-9731.