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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Rome: La Botticella

La Botticella
Via di Tor Millina, 32
+39 06 686 1107
La Botticella is the bar in Rome near Piazza Navona that I frequent most often. Ironically enough, it’s very much an American bar with corny bar tunes (i.e. Bon Jovi) and college drink specials (i.e. Long Island Iced Tea’s and Red Headed Slut shots). Study abroad kids flock here regularly to act a fool and black out. There’s no denying that I’ve been there, too. 

However, there is a charm about the place. When it's warm out, sit at the outside tables facing the street. I’ve met several interesting characters that way… A mime walks down the street and mimics tourists behind their backs. A man on the street selling useless dancing cat dolls makes a sale to a group of drunks. A gaggle of party girls walk cautiously (ridiculously) in stilettos over the endless cobblestone streets.

Mime is having fun with the bar patrons
Street sellers with dancing stuffed animals and lit-up balls

It’s known for being a Pittsburgh Steelers bar, so owner/bartender Giovanni has quite the following. People come here just to hang with Giovanni for some good conversation, and Steelers fans visit quite often since Giovanni is a celebrity in Pittsburgh. The walls are lined in Steelers memorabilia, flags from universities of all the visiting students, and Airline bumper stickers. Often you will find flight crews kicking back on their layover. I remember one night here laughing with a few French, English, and Italians, all of us finding a common ground: drinking at Giovanni’s bar is FUN. 

Front of the bar

University flags, St. John's is from my brother
You will not find dinner here, only a barrel of peanuts labeled “Enjoy Giovanni’s Nuts.” The perfect snack to go with your drink! On my latest visit, I had the Strawberry Caprioska that Giovanni’s been making for years although I know he hates muddling the fruit. It entails a crap-ton of sugar and vodka with muddled strawberries and lime. I also recommend the shots of Torello; one shot dark rum, one shot pear juice, taken one after the other (or at least that’s how I take it). And of course, you cannot go wrong with a simple Peroni or Chianti if beer and wine are your preference. 
Peanuts anyone?
Lining up some strawberry caprioskas
Rum and pear shots

If you are ever in Rome, regardless of where you are from and what you came for, visit my friend Giovanni’s bar, La Botticella, and you will have a memorable night.
Saying hi to Giovanni, April 2010

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