Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Sotto Sotto

313 N. Highland Ave., Atlanta, GA 30307

On Friday night Kyle, Sabrina, Ryan and I had dinner at Sotto Sotto. This was our belated Christmas dinner, so we had high expectations.

We began with an antipasta misto plate ($17). This was very good, and offered enough for 4 people to enjoy, but $17? The plate included sauteed mushrooms (plump and juicy), assorted olives (always good), a few cured meats like buffalo salami and prosciutto, and a few cheese (a blue, a goat, something similar to pecorino).

Next we each ordered a first course portion of pasta. The first course portion is offered at a lower price than the main course portion, but only the main course price is listed. I selected the tortelli di mele ($16 as a main course/$10 as a 1st). This is Granny Smith apples with sausage filled ravioli, brown butter and sage sauce. Delicious. The Granny Smiths were sauteed until toned down to only minor tartness, which contrasted perfectly with the rich brown butter and sage sauce. The ravioli was soft and the sausage filling was a treat. Sabrina ordered the risotto mantecato (same price as above pasta), a perfectly cooked risotto with caramelized onions, grated Parmesan and a 12 year aged balsamic vinegar. This is a dish that really shows off the glory of good quality, aged vinegar. Very nice. Tasty without being overpowering. And who doesn't love risotto when it's done right?

Both Sabrina and Kyle ordered the poleto al limone ($19) as a main course. This is wood-roasted lemon chicken with roasted potatoes and garlic spinach. I was expecting a breast, but they received several different small pieces, including some dark meat and wings. Kyle was a little thrown off by the lemon. Sabrina enjoyed it.

I loved my main course, the tono agli agrumi for $29. Tuna, cooked either medium or medium rare (I opted for the latter), with lovely white beans, mixed salad and chive oil. I liked the (somehow) very ripe, grape tomatoes, the bright and flavorful chive oil, and the good quality tuna. You should definitely order this when you patronize the restaurant.

Kyle probably had the best dessert, white chocolate bread pudding with brandied cherries and almond slivers (all desserts are $7). It's pictured above, and it tasted exactly as it looks. Yummy.

I ordered the zuppa chocco, or chocolate soup. This was on a recommendation from my coworker Valerie, who says it is hands down her favorite dessert in Atlanta. It really is chocolate soup. Tastes just like Hershey's chocolate syrup, only slightly thinner. It's topped with croutons made of biscotti, I think. Good, but not the best chocolate dessert I've ever had. Maybe it's the lack of work it takes to eat it - no chewing makes for a fast finish.

One thing that stood out at Sotto Sotto was the wine list. It's extensive (4 pages), and is broken down by region of Italy, a nice touch. There aren't very many selections under $42/bottle, and there aren't any half bottle offerings, but what they've got could please anyone.

At some point over the past few years, Creative Loafing, Atlanta Magazine and the AJC have all proclaimed Sotto Sotto as the best Italian restaurant in Atlanta. I think the meal we had on Friday was very good, but I'm not sure about the "best". I've eaten at the Buckhead Life Group's Pricci and Veni Vedi Vici a number of times over the past decade, and sometimes (but not all the time) they have been equally good. I much prefer the big fat booths at Pricci to the little crowded tables at Sotto Sotto. Sotto Sotto is quite loud, so don't expect a romantic dinner if you dine during the 8pm hour. Valenza in Brookhaven (reviewed last month) is probably also as good. However, all things considered, it was a good experience.

Verdict: Very good, upscale Italian restaurant. Great wine list.

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