Location: 9575 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90035 310.277.0210
Date: April 16, 2011
Cuisine: Sicilian and Sardinian Italian
Rating: Bold flavors, off to a great start!
This new venture into the crowded LA Italian scene is a welcome change of pace. Sotto offers very reasonably priced regional Italian dishes (southern, with a Sicilian and Sardinian slant) with an unabashed traditionalism of a sort. There is no real effort on this menu to cater to the long standing American Italian palette, as influences as it is by late 19th century Southern Italian cooking. This is no red sauce (restaurant with red and white checkered table cloths and chianti bottles).
Located in the rising lower Beverly Hills district we had to fight through crowds leaving shul to descend into the packed, loud, and hard surfaced interior.
The short but very reasonable menu.
James Suckling gives this 2004 Poggio Il Castellare Brunello 94 points. “A decadent and ultra-rich red, with plum tart, prunes, cooked meat and berries. Full bodied, with soft and silky tannins and a long, flavorful finish. An aromatically beautiful wine. Best after 2012.”
“Pittule pugliese (vincotto, ricotta).” These little fritters tasted like supreme funnel cake, and were delicious with the fresh ricotta and vincotto (which is a sweet grape must). The amusing thing, for me, about this dish is that it’s pretty much straight out of Apicius, the 1800+ year-old cookbook. Delicious any way you cut it, but very filling.
“Blistered little gems (anchovy garlic pestata, breadcrumbs, pecorino moliterno.” An interesting salad with a smoky grilled flavor.
“Shaved beet and mixed chicory salad (wheatberries, lemon vinaigrette, fiore sardo).”
Olives. There was a little wait between the first and second courses and they brought us these complementary olives.
“Bruschetta lardo.” And this gratis charred bread spread with lard and fennel pollen. Very wood fired (not to mention rich taste). I was in danger of extreme over eating before the entrees even came.
“Maharrones de pungiu (sugo semplice, fiore sardo).” A wonderful homemade take on a simple tomato and cheese pasta. The choice of fiore sardo (a Sardinian cheese) gave it a slightly different tang.
“Casarecce (braised lamb ragu, egg, pecorino).” This was one damn fine pasta. The pasta itself had exactly the right texture and firmness of good homemade egg pasta. The ragu was nicely flavorful and meaty. Yum! I love great ragu. Some of my other favorites are here at Drago or at Capo.
“Pizza Marherita (tomato, mozzerella, basil, EVOO).” Your basic Marherita, but well done. These pizzas have a VERY wood fired taste going on, much like those from Gjelina, they are a little over-fired to my taste. The dough is good, but they taste very strongly of the grill (char, smoky flavors). When I do them on the stones in my hot gas grill (see my Ultimate Pizza) they showcase the dough and toppings a bit more.
“Pizza Salsiccia e friarieli (sausage, broccoli di ciccio, mozzarella, chillies).” A very nice meaty sausage paired with the bitter tones of the Italian brocoli. Interesting, and good.
“Bittersweet chocolate crostata, hazelnuts, salted rosemary caramel.” This looked amazing, and the texture was fantastic and very chocolaty. There was a slightly odd flavor tone in here, which might have been the rosemary. I’m not sure it added, although certainly I enjoyed it.
After 11 and the place is beginning to thin out a bit. I really enjoyed Sotto and it BOLD take on Italian. This is heady stuff, and the homemade pastas were totally amazing.