La Bottega Marino: Summertime Sammiches

— by Caroline on Crack


There are some foods I’m not crazy about, i.e. pickles, tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, deli sandwiches. So when my friend recommended that we go to Italian deli, La Bottega Marino, for lunch, I was like, “Eh.” But Julie has a way of selling me on almost any food because she speaks with such enthusiasm that it makes me feel like my life will improve if I just eat that one thing.

So we went to the little Italian deli in West L.A. Walking up to it, the lights inside were off. Strange, in the middle of the day. “Is it closed?” I asked her. “No, they’re open,” she assured me, walking up to the front door and easily pulling it open.

Once inside, it looked like just a store with shelves of pasta, bottles of wine and cans of tomatoes along with a refrigerated deli case full of pies, cakes and antipasti. But off to the side in the front and back were seating areas for would-be diners. At 11:30, those tables and chairs sat empty with only a couple of people taking in an early lunch.

As soon as we picked a table, a big man wearing an apron came out from behind the deli case and flipped open a notepad ready to take our order. Since I’m trying to control my carb intake, ya know, just for fun, I took longer deciding what I wanted to eat. Passing over the various pasta dishes and pizza choices, I settled on the proscuitto, mozzarella cheese and tomato sandwich ($9.50). Julie picked the Maiale brasato, a hot sandwich with organic roasted shredded pork, caramelized onions, provolone cheese ($9.50). The waiter promised that it would be the “best brasato ever.” I almost wanted to change my order.

To pass the time, I decided to torture myself by salivating over the deli case of desserts. There was a Mousse di Cioccolato (Belgian chocolate mousse in a cake crust), an Italian ricotta cheesecake and, of course, Tiramisu. But when I proposed to Julie that we split a slice of tiramisu, she said that theirs was too creamy with not enough liqueur. Damn.

Fortunately, the sandwiches arrived and my sadness was soon forgotten. I took a bite and suddenly, looking out the storefront windows, the summer day seemed beautiful. The sandwich tasted so summery fresh with its basil and tomato slices. The coolness of the proscuitto and thick slices of mozzarella made this the perfect meal to eat on a hot summer’s day.

I sampled some of Julie’s brasato and it was pretty good for a hot shredded pork sandwich but my cool sandwich suited my mood better.

Looking at the menu I saw that the restaurant has pretty late hours. And with all the unlit candles on the tables I imagine that it’s quite a cozy scene during the dinner hours. Perhaps a great place to reenact that Lady & the Tramp spaghetti scene.

11363 Santa Monica Boulevard
West Los Angeles, California 90025
(310) 477-7777
Cross Street: Purdue Avenue