Choose your own adventure, indulging in a feast for all senses at this luxurious yet relaxing East Village enclave paying proper homage to Italian gastronomy. Take a seat around the wood-fired pizza oven as an expert pizzaiolo from the Old Country presses and peels delicate, delicious pies to order. Prefer to browse your way through artisanal delicacies? Sidle over to the salumeria and order a custom plate of Prosciutto San Daniele and Casatica di Buffala accompanied by a glass of Montepulciano d’Abruzzo or the restaurant’s namesake cocktail made with Campari, house Vermouth, and fresh orange peel.
Diners can go the traditional route, starting with a highbrow scallop starter with almost more elegant components than can be fit on a fork. But there is a scrumptious reward in store for those who finagle pistachios, poached radishes, and porcini mushroom broth into a single bite. Segue to a primi plate of hand-made pasta like rarely seen fuzi (like a long, rolled and pressed sheet of pappardelle) with a meaty ragu boasting plump chunks of duck, enlivened by reconstituted dried huckleberries and streaks of smoked ricotta. Or opt for filling lamb osso buco with rich, creamy mascarpone polenta and an uplifting mint-infused gremolata. The meat falls off the bone so it can subsequently stick to your ribs. Fantastico! (619.255.7800, www.bottegaamericano.com) Brandon Hernández