Last week we made our way into downtown Tosa to visit Ristorante Bartolotta. Our group had a couple of special occasions to celebrate and some of us had never made the journey to this well known Italian Restaurant. Having heard numerous stories and read the accolades, we went to this dinner with high expectations.
The restaurant itself is cozy and can get a little bit crowded if it is a weekend. However the decor is really neat and the atmosphere is perfect for an Italian restaurant. The bar area is a bit small and can be crowded, we saw a number of people crammed in trying to stay out of the way of passing staff. As the night progressed, the bar became less full and it seemed like a great spot to have a late night drink or after dinner beverage.
Now, onto the most important part, the food. For appetizers we tried the Mozzarella alla Pizzaiola. This dish stole the show. We actually ordered a second dish because it was so popular. This is a dish that has mozzarella cheese, tomatoes, garlic, olives and grilled bread. Think about like a deconstructed pizza. It was the perfect way to start a meal and went very well with the bottle of wine we ordered.
For dinner I tried the Pappardelle al Ragu d’Anatra. This was very good. The homemade and hand cut pasta really made the dish special. Slow braised duck was the foundation for an amazing ragu. This dish has received rave reviews in the past, and I can see why. This is a must try. We also tried the Garganelli alla Panna con Prosciutto e Piselli. This is another pasta dish with cream sauce, prosciutto and peas. Again, the quality of this dish was out of this world. Between these two dishes, I must say the reputation this restaurant has attained is well deserved.
The pricing at Ristorante Bartolotta is moderate to high. Be prepared to spend a little bit of money, but the quality of the food makes the price points appropriate.
Now, I really did not want to comment on the service, but it ended up having an impact on our meal. So I will include this next paragraph because I want my reviews to remain honest.
My only frustration with the restaurant was the service. Normally I am not one to gripe, but for our particular table, the service was notably slow. When we arrived at the restaurant, it was busy. Normally we would have a drink at the bar, but given the fact that no seats were available, we asked to be seated. We indicated to the hostess that we would just have a drink at the table. Unfortunately, after our waiter introduced himself and poured tap water (we were hoping for Pelegrino) he did not show back at our table for nearly thirty minutes. While we were waiting, tables around us were being seated and served drinks prior to us even getting our order placed. Now, this can happen at any restaurant, but for the amount of money we intended to spend, and the fact that we wanted to celebrate and toast a couple of people in our party, this was disappointing. When the waiter returned, he asked what we would like to order for dinner. We told him at that point we wanted to start with some cocktails and then have a bottle of wine opened. Only after catching up with some friends did we want to proceed with ordering food.
After the initial slow start, the service level picked up. Perhaps they realized that we were going to spend a lot of money, but regardless, the recurring thought that our entire group had was that a rough dinner service can really dampen the experience.
I have eaten ad numerouse Bartolotta’s restaurants and I have never had anything like this happen. I would not let my experience deter any of you from heading to this restaurant. We had heard many glowing reviews so I believe our experience was the exception as opposed to the rule. Take this commentary as more of a “heads up” than anything else.
Okay, with that being said, if you are looking for high quality Italian food, Ristorante Bartolotta should be on the top of your list.