The third La Bottega Marino officially opened its doors Saturday morning, on a busy section of Santa Monica in Beverly Hills. The previous two Bottegas, from brothers Salvatore and Mario Marino, are in Santa Monica, next to Sal Marino's white-tablecloth restaurant Il Grano, and in Larchmont. This incarnation is decidedly shiny and new, with arching ceilings which make the small space seem far larger than it is. Unlike the other two Bottegas, there are no shelves of Italian pastas and olive oils, no deli cases with salume and salads, although Sal Marino says they might add those eventually. The Beverly Hills restaurant has a full bar, a counter perched above the compact open kitchen, and seats about 35. The menu is identical to the other Bottegas, which have all been revamped recently.
"It's the first time I've ever had a brand new kitchen," said Sal Marino on Saturday, as he loaded pizza into the ovens behind him and plated dishes with his chef de cuisine Enzio Puccini while his brother Mario talked to the lunch crowd. Marino unveiled a porchetta--pork loin rolled with herbs, wrapped with pork belly and roasted--which would be sliced and served in panini or plated with arugula salad and a salsa verde. Also on the menu: 6 crostini, including oxtail, butternut squash, and porcini; a litany of fresh and dried pastas and pizzas, including a new deep-fried pizza. (Seriously.) The restaurant also makes all its own bread ("we don't get out much"). Marino said that his goal since his family opened the first Bottega in 1993 has been to make great Italian food, but not to get mired in the standards. "I don't want to make Caesar salad and fettucini."
La Bottega Marino: 9669 Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills, (310) 271-7258.