Friday, April 15, 2011

Goodbye Test Kitchen, Hello Sotto

Test Kitchen was meant to be a short run with Sotto taking it's place in January, if you listen to LA Weekly. Like with many restaurants they were delayed, thus, opening at the very end of March. More has changed than just concept and name. The interior has seen a mild overhaul as well with the back booths taken out and replaced with bench wall seating and tables. The chalkboard is gone as well creating a feeling of the room being slightly more open. Then there's the fact that the players are going to remain constant with former Pizzeria Ortica chef Steve Samson and Zach Pollack helming the kitchen after 2 Test Kitchen runs in the same space and a tour of Southern Italy. 

Now that they're in, let's take a look at some of the food. We went a week after they opened and I avoided reviews as best I could. The date we chose to go was partly due to the fact that Jeremy Parzen was to be in the house and we wanted to meet the man who planned the wine list. Jeremy lives in Austin, TX and will likely be in LA once a month. The wine list is interesting and, as the restaurant serves Italian food and Jeremy is an Italian wine guy, is very heavy in the Italian wines.

We started with a bottle of Gulfi Cerasuolo di Vittoria.Wine words: light, smooth tannins, balanced. Plain English: delicious.

 Our server then smoothly steered us towards the bread and lardo ($5 and $7 respectively). It came as two thick slices of the house made bread smeared with lard. I'm glad we didn't have a table of more than two as I wasn't about to share and I don't think the two slices were worth $5 when most restaurants include bread gratis. It was a nice combination, but still doesn't top the baguette and smoked lard from Ludobites 4.0.

Our first entree arrived shortly after we finished the bread: squid ink fusilli (pistachios, bottarga, mint).  Funny think about this dish, is that I really wanted to like it. I'm not sure if I did. I definitely didn't dislike it. It's stuck in limbo, that grey area that has no real definition. My date liked it, if that helps.
We chose one pizza to share, the Guanciale (house-cured pork cheek, ricotta, scallions, fennel pollen). This pizza had a surprisingly thin crust, was served with no tomato sauce (yay!) and yet despite the lack of sauce, was soggy in the middle. I think this may have had something to do with the ricotta. It doesn't really matter, it was delicious! The fennel pollen was definitely the dominant player on the palate, but everything combined was just really, really good. Soggy crust or not, this pizza was, how do you say...WINNING! (yeah, that just happened)
For dessert we split the ricotta al forno (candied kumquats, grapemust), which is a must try if it remains on the menu much longer. I love the sourness of kumquats, and though that was brought down by the sugar, a hint remained and when paired with the warm creaminess of the ricotta, was taken to a whole different level.

The meal, was overall a success. I didn't expect to like or agree with everything, and the more I think about the squid ink fusilli, the more I'm inclined to say that I liked it. Obviously it's made me think, and I've forgotten how many meals I've eaten that didn't make me think at all. I'll be back, and it's likely I'll be back sooner vs. later.

Palate - sufficiently rocked

Sotto Restaurant
9575 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90035

1 comment:

  1. thanks for coming to check out our list! :-) I love the Cerasuolo di Vittoria by Gulfi and it's the staff favorite... I'll be at the restaurant Weds.-Thurs. May 4-5... would love to get to taste with you! have a great holiday weekend and blog on! (glad to know your blog, btw)... thanks and best, Jeremy