Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Sotto: Beyond the Test Kitchen

Chefs Steve Samson and Zach Pollack (formerly of Pizzeria Ortica in Costa Mesa) recently opened up Sotto on the first floor of the old Test Kitchen space. Sotto focuses its menu on Southern Italian cuisine with a wood-burning Neapolitan pizza oven.

After hearing great reviews, I finally made my visit. The Test Kitchen space looks quite different now, but it was just as packed (and a little loud).

We started the meal with tomato-braised octopus ai ferri, chickpeas, preserved lemon, chard, bottarga ($14)

Sorry, David Chang, I like my "rustic Italian shit" including this one. There's just something about a hearty tomato-based dish, especially with this tender octopus and the chard.

Casarecce, braised lamb ragu, egg, pecorino ($15)
Casarecce, braised lamb ragu
Casarecce, which means "homemade", is basically a short, partially rolled pappardelle. They're rolled loosely and look like scrolls. Al dente and almost chewy, it's hard to imagine what would go better with these pasta than chunky lamb ragu.

Grilled lamb ribs in agrodolce, sesame seeds, mustard green salad ($22)

Apparently lamb ribs can be as fatty as baby back ribs! Agrodolce is a traditional Italian sweet and sour sauce, usually made using sugar and vinegar. With the lamb ribs, it's just like the Italian bbq ribs.

They were out of the pizza we originally wanted, so we went with the Campagnola (sunchokes, fennel, mozzarella, marjoram, house-cured lardo - $16)
Sunchokes, Lardo Pizza
While I prefer a thinner crust and the edges crisped, you can't go wrong with the pizzas here. For this particular one, it was all about the suncokes. With sunchokes like these, who needs meat? The chewy, slippery slices look and felt a bit like slices of fat and every slurp made my tongue confused. These are vegetables?

Most of the other tables had ordered the chocolate dessert, but the panna cotta struck our fancy.
Sheep's milk yogurt panna cotta, thyme, honey, almond amaretti ($7)
Panna Cotta
I raved about the panna cotta at Scarpetta, but this one is just as good if not better. Someone asked what makes it so good, and it's so hard to pinpoint. The panna cotta itself is creamier than most, but I think it's the honey coating my tongue. Or is it the crunchy amaretti? It certainly didn't hurt to have my beloved blood oranges in there.Bottom line is, we loved it, and I scooped the jar dry.

Very please with our meal here, we can't wait to return and try the other dishes, including the Devil Gulch's pork chop that Mattatouille raved about.

9575 West Pico Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90035
(310) 277-0210


Kung Food Panda

After hearing a few so so reviews, it's good to hear some positive vibes about Sotto. That panna cotta sounds good to me!


I am a sucker for braised octopus. Okay, well and everything else you tried at Sotto! Sounds like the satisfying combo of refined yet still homey.

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