Chef Michael Chiarello has earned some celebrity with his television shows and lifestyle-products catalogs. But his heart is in the kitchen, and his new restaurant Bottega is an excellent addition to the already culinary-centric town of Yountville in Napa Valley.
Since I’m from the East Coast, I order Dungeness crab when I’m out west. Generally it comes in some easy-to-eat dish, maybe a ravioli filling or a cold salad with cilantro and chiles. At Bottega, you get the whole sea-beast, roasted and set in a bowl half-filled with an intense spicy broth, accompanied by a set of nutcrackers. Four napkins later, the crab was a pile of empty shells, and I was a happy man.
Joel Hoachuck, general manager and wine director, dared to pair the dish with a foreign wine, a bright, citrusy Arneis from Italy’s Piedmont region ($13 for a quartino, about a glass and a half). Producer Vietti is well known for its Barolos, Barbarescos and Barberas, but also makes this white. It was light enough not to challenge the crab, but nervy enough to refresh the palate, and the lemony and floral notes mingled well with the spicy broth. I rated the wine 90 points, non-blind.