The service is attentive and the ambiance pleasant both at the big bar up front and the spacious dining room behind it. There is sidewalk seating (assuming you can deal with traffic given the current state of Second Avenue) and above all, decent if unremarkable Italian food assuming you don't set the bar super high. Bottega is a "casual" Italian eatery that does a lively business with locals as well as out-of-towners seeking lunch or dinner. It's convenient to those visiting patients at nearby hospitals, an odd accolade but often very welcome, as well as folks taking in an exhibit at The Asia Society a few blocks west. The food is fine although uneven--sometimes items could be hotter or be more assertively seasoned. Prices are a tad high but many diners are regulars, drawn partly by the nicely spaced tables that keeps the noise level moderate.
Bottega's wine list features Italian bottles and glasses as well as those from California in both reds and whites. They make a mean vodka Martini as well as other cocktails (although the UES isn't really a major player in the city's cocktail culture) and offer a good selection of specialty beers.
Lunch starters include a spinach salad with goat cheese in a sweetish vinaigrette; as well as an Ensalada Bianca (white) featuring endive, fennel, mushrooms and walnuts. Prefer antipasti? Sample the funghi di bosco trifolati which brings sauteed portabellas with peppers in garlic and olive oil; the prosciutto with fruits that change with the seasons; shrimp with sundried tomatoes or pretty greaseless version of fried calamari and zucchini.
All manner of pastas are on offer: linguini with clam sauce; homemade fettuccini with chicken, peppers and tomatoes; lasagna of the day and a risotto with dried porcini mushrooms and truffle oil for a pricey $18. Mains include veal picatta, a sirloin for $28 and red snapper with capers and olives in what the menu calls a "light tomato sauce" that borders on bland. Desserts run to classics like tiramisu and Italian cheesecake.
The restaurant offers specials, often for holidays, with a prix fixe menu; is open seven days a week from noon to eleven at night and accepts all major credit cards. Bottega tries hard to be a neighborhood spot although it's more of a hit or miss eating experience. The same folks that own this place are (or were) involved with Barbaresco and Pane E Vino. If you hit a good night, you'll be perfectly happy.