9575 West Pico Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90035
Dining date: 5/25/11
My first trip to Sotto was rather disappointing and I wasn’t sure I was going to return anytime soon. Lo and behold, less than two months later, I’ve already been four times now. I credit Matt (mattatouille) for convincing me to return to try some more items.
The restaurant is probably best known for taking over the Test Kitchen space, as well as having an authentic hand-built oven from Naples pumping out some of the most authentic Neapolitan pizzas in town.
Housemade bread lardo pestato
It’s hard for me to eat pure fat on top of bread (I sparingly even use butter), so this isn’t something I’d typically order. However, it was definitely tasty. The cured pork fat was warm and spread all over, leaving some rich, flavorful bites with the crusty bread.
Pittule pugliese vincotto, ricotta
I didn’t really know what this was until trying it; it’s basically fried dough. The ricotta was a very nice condiment, as was the vincotto, a sort of fruity syrup made from reduced grape juice.
Fried calamaretti lemon, red onion, colatura
I really enjoyed this on a previous visit and did so again. The squid was cooked perfectly with a really light batter. A little bit of lemon juice was all that was needed to add some acidity and brighten things up. I liked that it was kept very simple and executed well, rather than mixing flavors with say, a marinara.
Tomato-braised octopus ai ferri chickpeas, preserved lemon, chard, bottarga
Tender though slightly chewy, the octopus really went well with the citrus of the preserved lemon. I liked the chickpeas as well, adding some creaminess and body to the dish.
Grilled pork meatballs lemon leaves, snap peas, pecorino, bitter greens
I had these on my first visit as well. Hard to go wrong with a meatball, I liked the smoky flavor imbued by the grilling, though it wasn’t a particularly memorable meatball.
Devil’s Gulch fennel-crusted pork chop roasted baby carrots, fava beans
One of the stars of the show. The chop is truly encrusted by a lot of fennel – when I first had this I thought it was slightly overpowering. But with just a few bites more, I took that back. The pork is really juicy and flavorful, so it stands up well to the anise flavor of the fennel. I think this was a little more tender the last time I had it, though this chop wasn’t tough at all.
Toasted grain capunti ragu bianco, hedgehog mushrooms, rapini greens
True to its name, this pasta exhibited a strong grainy flavor. I don’t really love whole wheat pasta, but I appreciated the nutty and earthy flavors of the pasta, along with the mushrooms.
Squid ink fusilli lunghi pistachios, bottarga, mint
I didn’t like this pasta at all when I first had it, and I’m still not sold on it. The pasta kind of looks like black licorice twists thanks to the squid ink. For me, the mix of the pistachios and mint just didn’t meld well with the squid ink pasta.
Next up, we tried two pizzas (a “must” here). Below, Zach Pollack preparing our guanciale pizza.
Guanciale house-cured pork cheek, ricotta, scallions, fennel pollen
I would’ve liked the guanciale to have been crispier (it was rather limp), but otherwise I found this to be a really solid pizza. The pork cheek, combined with scallions and fennel pollen, was delicious. A little bit of ricotta was a nice touch, as well. Typical of all of their pizzas, the dough was crispy and nicely charred, with a slightly chewy texture.
Boscaiola hen of the woods, wild ramps, capretto Sardo
This was a favorite from a previous visit. If you don’t like mushrooms, you won’t like this one. The hen of the woods mushrooms are flavorful and vibrant, and really make this pizza.
Bittersweet chocolate crostata hazelnuts, salted rosemary caramel
This looked like a rather simple chocolate tart at first. But, I must say the salted rosemary caramel was addicting. There was something about the savory rosemary with sweet chocolate that really worked well. Delicious.
I’ve really warmed up to Sotto since my first trip on opening night. While I didn’t love everything, my favorite menu items are the pork chop, calamaretti and the pizzas. It’s probably safe to say I’ll be back soon.