For anyone who thought manicures, martinis and Monday night football could not coexist under the same roof, Cafe Bottega hopes to prove otherwise.
The new restaurant, which officially opened last Friday on the corner of Chapel and Temple streets, plans to feature unique entertainment — such as theme nights — and a predominantly Italian menu. The restaurant was started by Giuliana Maravelle and her daughter Carla, who also run the Bottega Giuliana fashion shop and Backroom at Bottega lounge on Chapel Street.
Opening about a month behind schedule because of logistical problems, Cafe Bottega is slowly gaining recognition among New Haven residents, partly because of the popularity of the clothing store and lounge.
Cafe Bottega offers a full three-meal menu, which includes pastries and espresso at breakfast, a 16-foot salad bar at lunch, Italian-style tapas for dinner and homemade gelato for dessert. Every night of the week will feature a different type of live entertainment, beginning with manicures and martinis for women on Mondays while their husbands watch football. Other planned theme-nights include a comedy night and live dance and piano performances. Sunday nights, Cafe Bottega will show a film on its eight-by-ten-foot projection screen and offer a $10 pizza-and-movie deal.
Co-owner Paul Focazio said the goal of these nightly diversions is to attract customers who are looking for entertainment but still want to be able to enjoy a good dinner and carry on a table conversation with their party.
“Usually going out in New Haven, you are limited to either a regular restaurant or a loud screaming club, and you have to choose one or the other,” Focazio said. “We are trying to mix it up so there can be a nice way to have a good meal while there’s always something going on.”
Giuliana Maravelle said she did not have a specific crowd in mind when opening her restaurant, and it is geared toward anyone who likes espresso and gelato. She said she has been wanting to open a European-style restaurant like Cafe Bottega for 20 years, but originally she did not think New Haven was ready for it.
“Now New Haven has become very trendy and cosmopolitan, so I think the cafe fits in perfectly,” Maravelle said. “I love this city because it’s such an eclectic crowd. While I feel that in a lot of the surrounding towns there is a specific type [of person], New Haven has a good mix of people, and my restaurant caters to all of them.”
Win Davis, the special projects director of the Town Green Special Services District, said he thinks the wide variety of food and entertainment will make Cafe Bottega extremely popular. Davis ate at the restaurant on opening night with a few of his “picky” friends, and he said it was one of the rare occasions that no one had a problem finding something to order.
“Once people find out about this place, they are going to keep coming back,” Davis said. “It’s really hip, and it has a little bit of everything.”