GREENWICH VILLAGE — For more than two decades, former New Jersey pharmacy owner Adolph Gonzalez dreamed about trading pills and shampoo for patatas bravas and sangria. In March, he made his dream come true, with the serene tapas restaurant La Bota, at 41 Greenwich Ave.
"Every time I went to a restaurant or bar I felt like I had to have it, for like 25 years," said Gonzalez, 50. "I thought that I had better do it now, before I get any older."
Though the neighborhood is home to several Spanish restaurants, none have the hidden-away "cellar"-like feel of La Bota, said Gonzalez, who has Cuban-born parents and Spanish-born grandparents.
The garden-level restaurant features wooden ceiling beams and a bar that Gonzalez' business partner, Frank Fernandez, crafted from aged, varnished plywood and textured pine bark. Several botas, the traditional Spanish wine-carrying bags for which the restaurant is named, hang over the bar.
"If you look in this area, there's no bar that looks like this," Gonzalez said.
Past the kitchen is perhaps La Bota's most attractive feature: a small, leafy patio with mosaic tables.
The kitchen whips up reasonably priced, typically Spanish dishes like pulpo a la Gallega, octopus with pimento and sea salt; black ink paella; escalivada, a Catalan dish of eggplant, olive oil, onions and parsley; boquerones en vinagre, marinated white anchovies; and fried artichokes.
"We wanted something you would find in Spain. The restaurant is like a cellar, and the food is authentic Spanish food," Gonzalez said.
The drinks menu features mojitos, sangria, an all-Spanish wine list, and several beers, including four from Spain.
La Bota is open Sunday through Thursday noon to 11 p.m. and Friday and Saturday noon to 2 a.m. They offer take-out and will start catering and making deliveries in September, Gonzalez said.
Yelp reviews for the restaurant have been positive so far.
"OMG this place is awesome!!!!" one reviewer wrote. "Just a beautiful representation of Spain in both the food sense and the people."
Gonzalez said he's overwhelmed by the positive response La Bota has received, though he admits he needs to add more lights and a bigger sign outside to draw more customers.
"Sometimes I have to pinch myself. I can't believe I'm here," he said.