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Click here for an interview and more from Bottega Cucina.
In a Valley filled with restaurants, Bottega Cucina prides itself on being off the beaten path. Located in West Springfield, this restaurant specializes in “old world Italian cuisine” infused with local flavors. Owner Phillip Hillenbrand says that the quality they strive for sets them apart from the rest, as well as offerings like micro-brewed beer and top-notch wine all served in a comfortable and sophisticated atmosphere.
“My business partner called and suggested we open a restaurant… right out of the blue!” says Phillip as he describes how Bottega Cucina came to be. After working as a chef in the likes of Deerfield Inn and Mulino’s, however, he was confident in his ability to make his own restaurant thrive. The menu features Italian favorites like Bolognese and Chicken Marsala, but is flexible enough that Phillip can work in local ingredients when they come into season. A chalkboard above the bar highlights specials and a selection of ever-changing sides like scape pesto. “I try to use 100% local for the sides because I can just go down to the farmers’ market, see what’s available, and work with that.” On his days off, Phillip enjoys traveling all over the Valley meeting farmers and buying fresh produce for the restaurant.
As Phillip prepares to take over as full owner of the restaurant, his role as chef has taken on new dimensions. He enjoys helping good employees grow and reach their potential, telling me about one young chef just out of culinary school. He has a lot of optimism for the future. In response to the lack of late-night eating venues, Phillip hopes to extend the restaurant’s hours to 12:30am. This would create a space where the date-night crowd could go after a movie or concert to sit, eat, and drink great beer.
Phillip takes cooking seasonally to a new level with his themed dinners. He holds one each spring, summer, and fall, and peak freshness shapes each menu. An upcoming Summer Harvest Wine Dinner features a red and yellow beet brushetta, local tomato caprese, and grilled vegetable and goat cheese lasagna. Dessert is an innovative cornbread trifle layered with raspberry jam and Bavarian cream. With food like that, no wonder Bottega Cucina boasts a loyal customer base. Mark your calendars, themed beer and wine dinners are held once a month on Sundays and are sure to please your palate.
Bottega Cucina is open for lunch Tuesday-Saturday from 11am to 3pm, and for dinner Tuesday & Wednesday 4:30pm to 9pm, Thursday & Friday 4:30 to 10pm, and Saturday 3pm to 10pm
Call 413-732-2500 to make a reservation. Dine-in, take-out, catering.
For more information about seasonal wine and beer dinners, visit the website
This recipe for cornbread trifle features enticing layers of jam and bavarian cream…
Northern corn bread
2 ears fresh corn (Sapowski farms, Granby MA), shuck and cut corn off cob
1 ¼ cup stone-ground cornmeal
¾ cups all purpose flour
4 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp Baking powder
½ tsp salt
2 large eggs (Diemand Farm, Wendell MA)
2/3 cup milk (Mapleline Farm, Hadley MA)
2/3 cup buttermilk (Mapleline Farm, Hadley MA)
3 Tbsp melted unsalted butter
1. Preheat oven to 425 F, grease a 9×9 inch pan or 12-muffin pan or line muffin pan with paper cups.
2. Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl. In a separate bowl mix together the eggs, milk and butter milk.
3. Combine the 2 bowls then fold in both melted butter and pre husked corn off the cob.
4. Pour mixture into the greased baking pan and spread evenly. Bake till tooth pick comes clean 10-12 minutes in muffin pan 20-25 minutes in square pan.
2 cups fresh raspberries (Raspberry Patch Farm, Ashfied MA)
2 cup sugar
2 Tbsp arrow root
2 Tbsp raspberry liquer
1. In a quart sauce pan heat raspberries and sugar until the raspberries are broken down.
2. Combine arrow root and raspberry liquer then slowly whisk into the heated raspberry mixture till slightly thick. Chill mixture before assembly.
1 pint heavy cream (Mapleline Farm, Hadley MA)
½ cup sugar
4 eggs (Diemand Farm, Wendell MA)
4 oz or half a stick of melted butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup cream, whipped to stiff peaks (Mapleline Farm, Hadley MA)
1. Heat cream in sauce pan, do not scald cream.
2. Combine eggs and sugar then whisk into heated cream until mixture thickens.
3. Fold melted butter and vanilla extract and chill.
4. When fully chilled fold in the pre unsweetned whipped cream. Keep cold till assembly.
When all steps are finished and ready layer each individual in 6 large red wine glasses or a large glass bowl so you can see the layers.
Put a splash of rapberry liqure on the bottom of the glass.
Then the Bavarian cream, then cut corn bread for the next layer. Spread the raspberry jam over the cornbread. Repeat these steps till bowl or wine glassed are full. Top with sweet whipped cream and fresh raspberries as a garnish.