Bottega makes one of the best, if not the best, Napoli style pizza in Montreal—but can the same be said for Laval?
Bottega Laval opened on St Martin Blvd, supplying an urban feel to an area otherwise saturated with suburban establishments. A terrace, which provides more of an urban feel, gives way to glass walls which allow passer-by’s a glimpse of all of the beautiful people sipping Pelligrino and wine.
Like the one in Little Italy, Bottega Laval is busy so reserve ahead of time. On my second visit I showed up without a reservation on a Saturday night at 5:30PM, but to the floor manager’s credit they found us a table; we were told, however, that the table would be needed by 7:00. Fair enough, and seeing as how the pizzas at Bottega take 90 seconds to cook, I figured it wouldn’t be a problem.
Let’s begin with the appetisers, which at Bottega are called sfizi’s. The Bacio della Bottega, not-so-little pizza buns stuffed with prosciutto, mushrooms, ricotta and mozzarella served with some greens over top were hot and delicious, it was difficult not to have more than one. The meatballs, while tender, were pretty bland. The salsiccia e rapini appetiser was a total hit: the fennel sausage—served hot right off the grill—was slightly spicy and not at all dry, the rapini was tender and nothing like the bitter, vile weed my parents force fed me as a kid. The grilled octopus in tomato sauce was good enough, but the octopus tasted braised more than it did grilled—the tomato sauce, which held everything together, was plenty flavourful and perfect for dipping bread into. The only miss was the calamari, which were dark and soggy. The excess of oil was probably due to the staggering number of squid coming out of the kitchen—the oil never had a chance to heat up: never fry anything in warm oil, instead of batter that crisps up you get a batter that absorbs like a sponge.
On to the main event: the pizzas at Bottega are indeed marvellous. The crust is both chewy and crispy. It seems that over the years Montreal has equated Italian pizza as being nothing but a cracker with some toppings on it, not so—pizza in Italy has many forms, but crusts resembling a Carrs cracker is not one of them. The crust at Bottega is also cooked well, the outer rim blistering with blackened bubbles, as any good pizza should be. The margarita and romana pizzas (pizzas cost between $14.00 and $20.00) really showcase the wonderful ingredients used at Bottega. The toppings are sparse—as they should be—the tomato sauce is pure, simple and a real joy to eat. The calzone was also really good; again the ingredients (the crust being one of them) make the difference.
The desserts were a great end to a terrific meal-the tiramisu, served very stylishly- was light and fresh, the gelato (I sampled a sesame seed and a hazelnut gelato) was the best I’ve ever had here in Montreal: light, flavourful and just the right temperature and consistency.
So I would have to say that Laval finally does have great pizza, in fact, I feel confident in saying that Bottega does make the best pizza in Laval.