"Nothing is more expensive than a missed opportunity." H. Jackson Brown, Jr.I grew up near New York City. That means I was surrounded by Italian food.
Italian-American food to be precise. In addition to the many restaurants, there were fantastic Italian delis with sausages hanging from the ceiling, cases full of fresh salads, prepared meals for reheating, cured meats, and amazing, fresh sandwiches.
In New York, the long rolls stuffed with all kinds of things from meatballs to fried eggplant are called "heroes." And they are that to me.
In recent years, Prague has been getting some high quality Italian food shops that remind me of my youth. Wine Food Market and La Bottega di Aromi arrived in recent years.
But the newest of all is La Bottega di Finestra.
La Finestra in Cucina, the sister restaurant of Aromi.
When I walked in the door, it reminded me of a richer, fancier version of my childhood deli playgrounds. And I came to play.
The shop's display cases are a cornucopia of Mediterranean edibles. Let's go through them on a case by case basis.
In the front room, along with a number of tables for sitting down for a nice meal, there are salads, quiches, beans, rolled and stuffed veggies and more.
In the back, walls were filled with medium to high-priced Italian wines -- many are 400 CZK and beyond.
Piennolo tomatoes, which are only grown on vines around Mount Vesuvius (115 CZK).
With our meal, we had .15 liter glasses of Hartmanm Pinot Grigio (110 CZK) La Minaia Gavi di Gavi (115 CZK).
He had some of their excellent, crusty, homemade Italian bread and rolls (19 CZK).
These three items on one plate came to 169 CZK.
Then we wanted some hot stuff. They had homemade veal and truffle ravioli behind the counter (145 CZK).
I love butter and sage, but she was right. The butter was fine, but I had to take away some of the sage. Oh, and the ravioli was terrific, al dente pockets filled with minced meat and the aroma of the expensive mushrooms.
From the daily menu, I went for the cannelloni filled with ricotta, radicchio and topped with a Parmesan fondue (145 CZK).
We pressed on. We put ourselves in the hands of the master behind the counter. We asked him to pick out some cheeses.
How much did the cheeses cost? I don't know. These weren't on the bill at the end.
He also sliced us some Prosciutto di Parma that was so thin, you could see through it.
I was getting full, but I went full tilt at the desserts. I had a piccolo Cannolo Siciliano (35 CZK). Inside the softened shell casing, the sweetened ricotta was lusciously lemony, with chunks of chocolate mixed in.
This almost endless feast set me back 1162 CZK. I thought it was absolutely worth it.
Before I go, I just have to mention that next door at La Finestra in Cucina, I had one of the best dishes of the year. It was Ravioli filled with oxtail, served with aubergine caviar and Parmesan fondue (375 CZK).
I saw this repeated when my vision returned to normal and my date took a bite. The blissful reaction was the same. The super smooth sauce was different than the version at La Bottega and was one of the most decadent things I've tasted in a while. And the sweet eggplant puree underneath balanced it all out. Wow.
Let me conclude by saying that of all the Italian shops that have rolled into town, La Bottega di Finestra is the Ferrari. Depending on your tastes and hunger, it can get a little expensive, but I'm glad I didn't miss the opportunity for a test drive.
La Bottega di Finestra
Prague 1 - Old Town
Tel. (+420) 222 233 094