Friday, June 13, 2008

Sotto Sopra

I had a nice break from the hectic week when I met Dara, the Baltimore blogoshpere's Dining Dish, this past Tuesday, at Sotto Sopra. This gorgeous Baltimore institution has been around for about 13 years. Eating the food I can see (er, taste) why.

Dara is no stranger to Sotto Sopra, and has written about it quite a bit lately. Check out her recent visit (also on her Examiner blog page) with the husband and a friend for the restaurant's Wednesday night chef's tasting menu, with dishes chosen by Bill Crouse, the executive chef. An even better way to save your dough is their aperitivo happy hour Monday through Thursdays from 5 to 7, where you can also order pasta right at the bar for $10.

Owner Riccardo Bosio also writes on the Sotto Sopra blog (yes, a restaurant with a blog - just check out the happy hour link above. Yup, it's from their blog) about a great experience that goes on every night after 7. Sardinian native Daniela Useli, who is not a trained chef but has cooked extensively her whole life, can still cook circles around some chefs whose foods I have eaten. Every Tuesday, Signora Useli prepares a different four-course Sardinian home-cooked meal before drinks!, including dessert - except that she cooks it at Sotto Sopra instead of home. It's just $35 The much more expensive regular menu is also available.

The menu I picked up listed what Signora Useli is making next Tuesday (the 17th). The menu is a bit different from what I ate. I don't have specific names for every dish, but each was - in a word - lovely.

The first course was a very nice star-shaped bread atop slices of roasted eggplant and red bell pepper. The bread was soft inside, harder on the outside, and had a nice olive oil flavor. I really loved the eggplant, which is not my favorite vegetable, er, fruit. It was soft but not too soft, and very mellow.

The next course was inarguably my favorite of the four, a lasagna that Dara best described as "like air" due to its lightness. I've really become quite bored with lasagne that I've eaten lately, usually too-strong tomato sauce with very dry ricotta and very flavorless, sometimes wet and sometimes dry noodles. Not this lasagna. The noodles were thin and just about melted in my mouth. Layered between the noodles were artichoke and mushroom. I told both Dara and Sra. Useli that it has restored my faith in lasagna. I hope she makes it again.

The third course featured delicious, buttery rosemary potatoes paired with a chicken fillet. Both were good. I especially could not get over those potatoes! Here is where I noticed that none of the courses were that big - "Friday's-sized-portions" (ick) are not the style here, thankfully. No doggie bags here! I was able to finish everything that I got.

For the final course, we had a panna cotta covered in a smooth, thin layer of raspberry. The sweetness of the panna cotta was a very nice contrast with the sour raspberry. I could have eaten this all night.

In all, this was quite a nice meal, much better than many I have eaten lately, and worth more than the $35 you pay for it. I hope it stays that price!

Sotto Sopra on Urbanspoon


theminx said...

Looks wonderful! The Minxes love Sotto Sopra.

Plantastic said...

I love Sotta Sopra. It is my go-to place for a special dinner with excellent service and fine wine. I've never been disappointed.

Anonymous said...

It all sounds delicious but the lasagna and panna cotta are what caught my eye. They both sound sensational.