If you ever had the chance to go out to dinner with a group of Italians you will know this is not easy. In Holland we agree to have pizza, we all stand up and walk to the door, and go to the restaurant. Easy as pizza pie. It doesn’t work like that in southern Italy, where my husband comes from.
I remember the first time we agreed to eat pizza with the family. I basically stood up and put on my coat and wanted to leave. Turns out this is not how it happens. The restaurant needs to be debated, eat in or take away needs to be discussed, and many other things I did not understand. Fast forward to two hours later, we were still not in the restaurant and I was hangry. How do you get a group of Italians to come to a restaurant quickly? After five years of marriage to a Italian man I still have no answer.
The only real solution was moving to Beijing, where there is a very limited choice of Italian restaurants so the discussion is not as complicated. For this weekend’s “No Cook Sunday” I decided to take my small half-Italian child to the new Bottega restaurant, which is very conveniently located a short ride from my home. It was their opening party and we did not want to miss it. We bumped into our Italian family friends, and had a big family lunch at Bottega.
We loved the open space of the restaurant and the terrace at the front; there’s enough space for kids to run around. The restaurant has a changing area and highchairs for kids. They also provide place mats kids can draw on, and pencils. This is always a huge hit with my four year old as she is obsessed with drawing (on anything).
I totally listened to Luigi, the head of the Italian family I was having lunch with, as they know best about food. I was not let down; we ordered pizzas galore and even a deep fried calzone pizza. Save this dish for your cheat day, it’s the best thing since sliced bread. Our kids had pasta and desserts with gelato. They played outside with a cardboard box and we drank some daytime spritz. I think its incredible that I have to move to China to feel a bit more relaxed: a bit less Dutch and maybe a bit more Italian. Bottega made that happen for me, and I won’t hesitate to recommend this restaurant to all the families living in Beijing.
For more information on opening times and locations click here.
Photos: Bottega and Pauline