Sunday, May 19, 2013

Sotto 13 For Italian Tapas And Pizza In The West Village

Rushing about town, we had one of those New York days packed with parades and food festivals and community gardens in Spring bloom. The zigzagging finally and mercifully ended with dinner at just the right restaurant for two weary flâneurs.

Sotto 13 opened last Thanksgiving and has acquired a huge following for its weekend brunches featuring NYC's first ever do-it-yourself prosecco bar, but I was curious to see what their chef (previously with Cipriani) delivers in the evening.

The dinner menu is well focused: pizza, salad and an array of small tapas-style plates that are made savory with good use of sea salt and pungent cheeses. We selected six tapas plates and didn't regret any of them. I was particularly delighted with the Burrata and Roasted Peppers in Basil Oil. Burrata—served fresh—is a white Italian cheese confection with an exterior of mozzarella containing a cream center. Like a maiden calling out to suitors, burrata seeks flavor and color. The red and yellow peppers and the generous shredded basil supplied both. The Fig Jam, Prosciutto and Gorgonzola Crostini delivered the anticipated argument of sweet and salty. I let my husband scoop up the last one on the plate only because the Grilled Octopus with Fingerling Potato, Pesto, Scallions and Capers had arrived. Using pesto on octopus is something I would not have thought of. I can't wait to try this at home. The capers and scallions sharpened the composition perfectly.

We shared two desserts and they were heavenly: the chocolate ganache and the pear strudel.

The chairs were comfortable, the decibels humane, the table arrangement gracious, the decor refined and understated, the atmosphere casually elegant and the service attentive but never intrusive—allegro ma non troppo—which is not easy to achieve when you are delivering plates of tapas. For us, the six dishes and dessert were plenty, but all around us, others were receiving intriguing pizzas that will be tried when next we visit.

Sotto13 is at 140 W13th Street. Make reservations. 212 647 1001

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