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Bottega Italia: A bustling bistro that satisfies cravings for Italian

spaghetti carbonara Bottega Italia's spaghetti carbonara is a "decadent dream."

There’s something about wine country that evokes in me a deep craving for Italian food. Of course, the proximity to flights of seemingly endless varietals, begging to be paired with pizzas and pasta, seems like the most reasonable explanation. But beyond the bottles, every trip I take through California’s vineyard-lush hills reminds me of time once spent in Tuscany.

During a recent weekend trip to Temecula, I found myself in search of the right restaurant to complement those fond memories of Italy. Smack-dab in the heart of its busy downtown, I discovered a bustling bistro and market that seemed as if it had been built to satisfy all my Italian cravings: Bottega Italia.

Interiior

Inside, a cozy dining room fills the space between a charming bar and an inviting bakery. I recommend perusing the bakery cases, where you’ll find rows of tempting pastries, Sicilian-style street food, and colorful gelato, all worth considering when plotting the best approach to the meal ahead.

La Tartufata Pizza

La Tartufata pizza.

The exquisite wood-fired pizza oven churns out billowy Neapolitan pies that will excite your senses on every level. Of the roughly 20 pizzas on the menu, a standout is La Tartufata, which beautifully balances white truffle cream, porcini mushrooms, and hearty slices of prosciutto. The stellar puttanesca is given a briny bite by a trio of zippy toppings: capers, black olives, and Sicilian anchovies.

Rollatine Alla Siciliana

Rollatine alla Siciliana.

But don’t let the pizza offerings completely distract you from the pasta. The spaghetti carbonara is a decadent dream, with enough peppery spice to ensure your taste buds are paying full attention. The scrumptious rollatine alla Siciliana wraps a serving of saucy spaghetti in crispy, fried eggplant and a robust marinara.

Cannoli

Some desserts, including crisp cannoli (pictured above), are well-suited to go if you find yourself full after dinner. The 16 flavors of gelato draw a steady stream of visitors throughout the day. Though the classic pistachio and stracciatella flavors are very good, it was the silky, subtly sweet whiskey cream that had me happily coming back for second (okay, maybe third) servings.

Dinner prices: Starters and salads, $12–$21; entrées and pizzas, $17.50–$50; desserts, $5–$7.

Info: 28475 Old Town Front Street, Temecula.

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