This time of year, when the brisk Tramontana winds blow through the mountains of Italy, Tuscans find warmth beside the fires of village cantinas and osterias in the company of kindred spirits. The evening’s fare will undoubtedly begin with locally made bread drizzled with fresh olive oil and topped with shards of creamy pecorino, tomatoes, sausage specialties, or a sauté of wild mushrooms. Roasted chestnuts still hot to the touch might be shared, followed by hearty cinghiale (wild boar) ragout and tender pasta made in the village style—all enjoyed with big, bold, regional red wines. And finally, cantucci with vin santo or a taste of the host’s best grappa might energize the villagers for the journey home.
Fortunately for us, Osteria la Bottiglia brings this taste of Italy to King Street with the familiar style and flavor of the old country. Massimiliano Sarrocchi and his wife, Natasha, are the hosts at this intimate wine bar and restaurant, where a traditional menu and vibrant wine pairings brighten a winter’s evening in unmistakable Italian style. The simplicity of a single table and an oversize mirror marks the entrance into the long, narrow bar bounded by a slatted wooden ceiling and brick and stucco walls embellished with large format wine displays. The handsome bar and tall tables tucked along the wall beg guests to pause for a moment or a meal, and larger groups find their way to the main dining room and more private spaces in the back, where wine dinners and private celebrations often take place.
Though the wine list does include various other global and domestic offerings, Italian vintages command central focus. Without missing a detail, the affable bartender recently led us on a tour of the region beginning with classic Talenti Rosso di Montalcino, which proved to be an excellent accompaniment for a bruschetta sampling, including sautéed mushrooms, baby arugula, and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Softer Tuscan blend Ciacci Piccolomini d’Aragona admirably held its own with finely puréed, piping hot cannelloni bean soup flavored with rosemary and garlic. The signature depth of flavor makes this appealing year-round staple especially crave-worthy during the cold winter months.
A refreshing interlude salad of fava beans and baked ricotta included arugula, bits of asparagus, and toasted almonds pleasantly enhanced by orange zest, garlic, and merlot vinegar. The elegantly simple, intricately arranged carpaccio of zucchini was blissfully fresh, seasoned with razor-thin shards of earthy black truffle pecorino, extra-virgin olive oil, and Sicilian sea salt for an aromatic presentation that tantalized the senses even before the first bite.
A main course of duck leg confit proved a fitting tribute to the complex, earthy flavors of the season. Succulently tender duck leg prepared with the house spice blend was accompanied by sausage-filled ravioli made by Rio Bertolini and luxuriant with a cream sauce of cremini, porcini, and black trumpet mushrooms. Traditional spinach and ricotta ravioli balanced the meal with much lighter, yet equally satisfying, texture and flavor added by puréed roasted artichokes, light cream sauce, and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. We enjoyed the entrées with the lovely red Alovini “Terre degli Eventi” Rosso Aglianico/Sangiovese 2009 Basilicata that was recommended by our skilled server.
Desserts are provided by Sugar Bakeshop, which garnered high praise for its particularly divine rendition of traditional tiramisu made with mascarpone, espresso, and rum. The tiramisu (literally meaning “pick me up”) worked its magic as we prepared to leave, pausing to enjoy an impromptu wedding celebration by a charming local couple who had unexpectedly joined their friends for a toast.
Whatever your appetite, Osteria la Bottiglia promotes a passion for food, wine, and the way Italians celebrate daily life—taking time to enjoy the simple pleasures of local specialties and seasons with friends and family. The Sarrocchis often host wine dinners by reservation, and they’ll even prepare an authentic Italian dinner for pickup or delivery.
Osteria la Bottiglia
420 King St., (843) 727-4158,
Dinner: Monday-Friday, 5-10 p.m.; Saturday, 5-10:30 p.m.
Average entrée: $14