Bringing Tuscany to Chelsea for another generation

By David Farley

Owning and operating a restaurant in New York City is the definition of risky business—stiff competition, stiffer real estate, and a city full of discriminating eaters ensure that 80 percent of restaurants here close within five years of opening. Still, occasionally you’ll come across a place that has not only beaten the odds, but buried them. Closing in on its twentieth anniversary in business, Bottino in Chelsea is one of those rare exceptions.

So what’s the key to thriving for what amounts to an epoch of multiple generations in New York City years? For this Italian institution on Tenth Avenue, part of the answer lies in their ability to execute the dishes on their Tuscan-accented menu with the kind of verve and zest more typical of a restaurant that’s still only a few months old.

Another clue to Bottino’s success: They steer clear of trends. You won’t come across pork belly, kale, or bone marrow on the menu here. What you’ll find plenty of instead are simple, flavorful, and well-executed Italian dishes with very little fuss. The bruschetta, refreshingly free from of-the-moment toppings (yes, you, avocado), is more like what you’d get in Siena or San Gimignano, brimming with juicy tomatoes, crisp basil, and deliciously pungent olive oil, all atop a large chunk of country bread.
In larger plates, the orecchiette, laced with wild boar sausage and broccoli rabe and sprinkled with Tuscan pecorino, is emboldened by a garlicky flavor strata lurking at the bottom of the dish. And while steak can easily be a letdown when your expectations are set by New York steakhouses, the Angus New York strip at Bottino is packed with meaty flavor and cooked perfectly, with a crisp, rosemary-encrusted exterior and a juicy inside.

Whatever the secret to restaurant longevity in the city may be, Bottino appears to have it down. So raise a glass of nero d’avola to another successful 20 years.


Dinner: Mon–Sat 6 PM–10 PM; Sun 5:30 PM–9 PM
Lunch: Tue–Sat noon–3 PM

price range

$6 (bruschetta al pomodoro) to $32 (roast rack of lamb)