An Under $10 Lunch From Bottega Louie? It’s Possible.
Being the cheap bastard that I am means not spending more than $10 on lunch. That’s why I spend so much time sussing out Thai Town, Koreatown, dirty sushi holes, and food trucks. But I also get excited when an otherwise expensive restaurant provides some kind of Midtown Lunch loophole. A way for super cheap fatsos to get a “quality” lunch (whatever that means) but still only spend under $10. You wouldn’t think Bottega Louie, the famously gigantic white marble Italian restaurant with a French patisserie (?) on the corner of 7th and Grand, would fit the bill. And yet, with some savvy ordering even a fat guy like me can leave satisfied and less than $10 in the hole.
I’ve heard mixed things about Bottega Louie. It’s great, it’s mediocre, it’s too expensive, it’s a good value, their pizza is awesome, their pizza is terrible. One thing that’s undeniable is that it’s popular. During lunch time the place is a completely madhouse, but don’t let that be discouraging. You can usually snag one of the small tables in the front cafe area, which are first come first serve. And don’t wait for anybody to seat you… if you see and open table snag that sucker.
The menu in the cafe/bar area is pretty much entirely out of the ML price range. $12 sandwiches, $12 and $15 pastas, a $15 hamburger and $16 entrees? No thanks. The pizzas are also $16 (which I guess doesn’t seem so bad in our post Mozza world) and would be out of the ML price range if they weren’t big enough to feed two.
I don’t normally encourage sharing, but the pizzas are really big enough to feed two. Even this fat guy was full after eating my half, and for those who are even fatter than me, just make sure you invite a friend who’s watching their figure. Their 3rd slice could be your 4th slice if they’re feeling particularly fat that day. But in all seriousness, it really isn’t even necessary. I felt more than satisfied after my 3 slices, and Bottega Louie’s high quality toppings make it worth the $8 (that’s $16 divided by 2 for those who are having trouble following along). There’s a clam pizza, meatball and mozz, burrata with proscuitto, and more. And the best part is, even though they’re totally slammed during lunch they have absolutely no problem letting you split the pie between two different topping combos. I can understand why Neapolitan pizza aficionados might have some problems with the pizza (the oven is probably not hot enough, leaving the pizza way too floppy and with no char) but most people are going to think it’s great.
Don’t like to share? Pizza isn’t your only option for under $10. The case at the far end of the “Market” area gets transformed into a takeout sandwich and salad counter during lunchtime, and not only is everything available for takeout but you can also order any of the sandwiches in the cafe. Not the cheapest sandwiches of all time, and they don’t come with chips (like the $12 sandwiches on the actual menu) but some of them are not nearly as small or as expensive as you would think. And some of them are downright awesome.
Like the roast beef with red onion jam, arugula, blue cheese, and horseradish cream on ciabatta. The bread is baked in house, the roast beef is great, and it’s got this great sweetness from the red onions that balances the funky cheese and spicy horseradish. And the best part… it’s only $5.50.
Also great, and also $5.50, is the proscuitto sandwich with burrata and arugula on a french baguette. Simple, delicious, and burratastic. What more could you want?
Not sure why chicken is more expensive than roast beef (only in L.A.!) but for $7.25 there is a chicken sandwich with fresh mozzarella, mixed baby greens, roma tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, and this fantastic garlic aoili that cuts through the whole thing like a punch in the face (if punches in the face were a good thing.) I don’t normally get behind chicken sandwiches, but this one was pretty damn good.
There are other options cheaper and more expensive (their $8 Italian torpedo is big and tasty, but leaves you pining for Bay Cities, and their carved steak sandwich doesn’t have that sweet onion-y thing that makes the roast beef sandwich so good) but all of the sandwiches we tried were tasty in their own way, and they’re less expensive than Mendocino Farms (although I fairness I wouldn’t say better.)
I don’t know if the food is good enough to make me want to go to Bottega Louie for dinner, but for lunch it’s definitely one of the best options in the area. And if you eat in the cafe and order one of the sandwiches above, or share a pizza, you can get out easily for under $10… provided you don’t get detoured by their amazing pastries.
THE + (What somebody who likes this place would say)
- The pizzas are really good, and big enough to share… bringing the price per person to under $10.
- They’ll let you split your pizza into two different topping combos
- They have some pretty fancy topping combos!
- When you think about it, the sandwiches from the market are actually a really great deal considering how good the ingredients.
- They’re cheaper than Mendocino Farms!
- The bread is baked in house, and pretty amazing
- You can sit in the front cafe, and still order the $6 sandwiches from the takeout market
- Their pastries and coffee (Intelligentsia) are both amazing as well
THE – (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)
- The pizza is way too floppy, and doesn’t have enough char. (Maybe they rush it during lunch because it’s so packed?)
- Sorry, but in what crazy world is $16 a good deal for a pizza this size!
- I don’t like pre-packaged sandwiches
- The sandwiches don’t come with nothin’
- It can sometimes be hard to get a table in the front cafe
- Thanks but no thanks… I’ll stick with Mendo Farms
Bottega Louie, 700 S. Grand Ave., 213-902-1470