The rural upbeat greeting is certainly not an apt reflection of the surrounding environment, but somehow it fits perfectly. Seemingly a slightly less sophisticated version of the traditional Italian salutation “bellisimo!” that warms the heart, but then again, this is not your average Italian eatery.
Weaving in the yearly dose of cold weather into my schedule has landed me back into the New England region of New South Wales; an area renowned for its cultural and creative celebrations, passion for things food and wine and its glorious autumn backdrops that are all too easy on the eye.
Bottega Cafe and Delicatezza located in the brisk but beautiful Armidale boasts an array of gourmet Italian goods for both eating and treating. Differentiating itself from its surrounding competition, Bottega is not fixated on producing food that spells out ‘Italy’ in spaghetti and meatballs, but instead gives you the exquisite exotic goodness in food you wouldn’t think to practice your newly found Masterchef skills on.
Additionally, the produce used and sold within the delicatezza is rounded up from the local regions of New England and the North West, with traditional products in collectable packaging imported from Italy (so you know it’s good). A selection of haloumi, blue vein and cheddar cheeses along with antipasti, breads, pastas, oils and homemade condiments for sale will have you in Mediterranean heaven.
Although Bottega’s menu is a little on the stunted size, it regularly changes, pleasing one and all by being both vegetarian and vegan friendly. Open for both breakfast and lunch, the delicious meals range from light to moderate portions. Due to Bottega’s limited size, it can get busy fast so make sure to leave an extra five minutes up your sleeve to sneak back to the office before anybody notices. Alternatively, a share of one of Bottega’s homemade cakes, slices or oversized biscuits could easily be the perfect apology to the boss- (If you don’t eat it all yourself on the way back that is!)
The grilled polenta with spicy eggplant ragu and goat’s cheese ($17.50) is admittedly a risqué choice for me but proves to be nothing less than a tantalising tango on my tastebuds. The kick of spicy ragu is complimented with the buttery taste of the polenta strips and the richness of the goat’s cheese, all of which is polished off all too soon. But no Italian meal is complete without a coffee.
Bottega uses Oro coffee beans roasted and packaged in Italy by Incas Caffe, a brand that veers away from the usual Brazilian coffee taste and texture that has become overpopulated in Australia over the years. My coffee is strong, full bodied and delicious and is definitely enough to get my heart racing and eyes popping. The Oro espresso will set you back $3.00, a small price to pay for such a big hit of little Italy.
Cleverly designed despite its snug size, Bottega’s delicatezza has a vibe both fittingly and contradictingly described as being old-new age. Hardwood and metal make up most of the aesthetics but are balanced out to look and feel homey with the added touch of clever product placement, showcasing their eye catching and strikingly unique packaging.
A relatively new eatery to Armidale since its opening in December 2010, Bottega has been having great success amongst both locals and visitors and is continuing to strengthen its repute with an impressive pantry size, original concept and once again, its range of delectable products. Is anybody feeling generous enough to do some gourmet grocery shopping for me?
Shop 2, 14 Moore Street,
Armidale NSW 2350
(02) 6772 6262
Monday – Saturday from 8am – 4pm