Farmer's Bottega offers inventive, seasonal dishes

Farmer's Bottega, a farm-to-table eatery in Mission Hills , is known for Executive Chef Alberto Morreale's inventive dishes that straddle traditional Italian and new American cuisine. Morreale sees himself more as an artist than a chef, and his latest fall menu for Farmer's Bottega is his latest masterpiece.

"While the weather does not get much cooler in San Diego, there's a definite change in the air," Morreale said. "It's a signal that it's time to introduce some traditional fall vegetables, fruit and spices, like acorn squash, sweet potato, pumpkin, apples, cloves, allspice, nutmeg and cardamom."

Nightly specials this season include PEI Mussels (with roasted cherry tomatoes, capers, Mediterranean olives and garlic), the Baby Kale Salad (which highlights the rich savory and sweet fall flavors with butternut squash, smoked bacon and caramelized pecans) and the Stuffed Quail (with an herb and honey rub, manchego cheese, Andouille sausage, raisins and polenta). The Charcuterie Board, with daily specials of cheese and cured meats with toasted artisan bread, is also a hit.

"You have to do what you love in order for it to show in the food served," Morreale said. When he starts to come up with new dishes each season, "it's all about having the excitement, energy and focus to create something everyone will love. My desire is to make sure the food brings a little joy to everyone that walks through the door."

Morreale's upbringing in Sicily and experience in several restaurants help him when it comes to giving a unique twist to familiar favorites and classic flavors. "I start with the basics and the highest quality of the product," he said. "And then the creative elements step in. I rely on what I've learned and what I like, then take it a step forward and see how I can combine the colors or textures to give it a more exotic presentation."

Farmer's Bottega offers the ideal environment to enjoy Morreale's creations. The "modern vintage farmhouse" design of the restaurant also bears his signature, as Morreale personally selected many of the fixtures and items displayed inside. The patio, replete with lush greenery, is an outdoor space both casual and intimate.

Morreale has also prepared a Thanksgiving dinner menu that, in line with what he does best, features sophisticated takes on the traditional turkey dinner. Diners will enjoy a three-course dinner that includes a Free-Range Turkey Plate, Lamb Shank or Seafood Bucatini and finishes off with an Eggnog Crème Brûlée.

Farmer's Bottega is open from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. for breakfast and lunch every day, and for dinner from 4:30 to 10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and until 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. In addition to their daily happy hour (4:30-6 p.m. every day), daily specials include half off bottles of wine on Monday, all-day happy hour at the bar and community tables on Tuesday and a special prix fixe Wednesday Date Night menu.

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