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La Bottega - Italian Gourmet
La Bottega Italian Gourmet

About La Bottega

What Are Panini, Exactly?


Let's start off with a bit of Italian grammar - panini is the plural for panino, which is the Italian word for "small bread roll." (The word is the diminutive form of pane, "bread.") If you were to be grammatically correct in Italian, you'd have un (one) panino and due (two) panini. But outside Italy, panini is often used as a singular word (like salami, also an Italian plural noun) and sometimes pluralized as paninis. Whatever you wish to call it, no one can debate that it's delicious!

Besides meaning "small bread roll," the word panino also refers to sandwiches in general. In Italy, sandwiches are customarily made from a piece of roll or loaf of bread - be it ciabatta, krispina or any other hearty variety - which is cut horizontally and filled with meats, cheeses and other foods, and is sometimes served hot after being pressed in a grill. In the U.S., a panini is any pressed sandwich.

Panini have reportedly been around since the 16th century, and each region of Italy has its own specialty. In Italy, panini are a way of life - eaten as school lunches, at picnics or as late night snacks - and when Italians think of a memorable event, there's probably a panini involved. Quoting Giuseppe Ruta, "Saying a panino is just a sandwich is like saying a Lamborghini is just a car."
La Bottega ... a cozy, fun gathering spot for family and friends that showcases the gourmet tastes of Italy. A full-service dining venue that's small in size, but features big, bold flavors. A unique restaurant concept that focuses on Panini, but also affords the customer a complete dining experience.

Our menus include, of course, Panini & salads, plus a selection of appetizers, soups, pastas, entrees and desserts. Some locations offer breakfast / brunch and pizza, as well as gluten-free options. La Bottega also offers a reasonably priced domestic and imported wine and beer selection. A "sister restaurant," Caffe Barocco, is a Manhattan style tapas wine bar.

La Bottega timeline
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Company Mission

To offer our valued customers an enjoyable and affordable dining experience featuring fresh, quality ingredients, expertly prepared and lovingly served, whether it be in our home or yours. Creating a romantic Italian trattoria with a warm, welcoming atmosphere that makes each and every guest feel right at home.

Company History and Background

How Amore Led to La Bottega

The quest to introduce the "perfect panini" to Americans began as a love story.

Giuseppe Ruta
Giuseppe Ruta
Marisa Ruta
Marisa Ruta
Two young adults at the age of 16, Giuseppe and Marisa, met in Ispica, Italy. An attraction sparked and, as the years went on, their love grew for each other and for food. Upon getting married, the newlyweds traveled around Europe where Giuseppe gained experience in the restaurant industry, and then landed in Long Island, New York in 1993.

In Long Island, Giuseppe started out as a busboy and worked his way into a management position a year later. With his talent and experience, he ventured to Manhattan where he worked at the best restaurants, along side some of the best Italian restaurateurs in the city.

Both lovers of traditional Italian cuisine, Giuseppe and Marisa's dream was to create a store where customers would come and shop for specialty items and enjoy their most cherished Italian food... panini! La Bottega, which means "the store" in Italian, was born from that dream in March of 2003.

With more then 20 years of experience in restaurants worldwide, Giuseppe decided to hire (with no pay) the best chef in his book, his wife Marisa. Learning to cook from her mother Concetta, Marisa acquired a flair for classic Sicilian cuisine. Already a busy mother of three, Marisa loved the idea of working an extra 12 hours a day so much that she soon became a full-time La Bottega employee.

Today, La Bottega offers a menu of over 60 panini, 25 salads, and an extended menu of Italian inspired dishes. What was once known as the Italian gourmet "store" is now a successful franchise hidden inside a fun-cozy-romantic Italian trattoria, with a warm welcoming atmosphere in which guests feel "at home."

Giuseppe and Marisa Ruta have since continued to surpass their goals with La Bottega restaurants spreading across Long Island, Queens and venturing to more places each year. And, coming soon, a new location will be opening where it all began ... in Italy!

It brings much joy to Giuseppe and Marisa to see customers and franchisees getting excited at the opening of each new location. With your continued support and appreciation, they look forward to the success and growth of the La Bottega Gourmet family.

If you are interested in making your American dream come true by running your own La Bottega, click here for information.
La Bottega - Italian Gourmet