By Christopher A. Pape
As many of you know, I go out to restaurants quite frequently. On these excursions, I meet people from all walks of life. Inevitably, once they find out I write about restaurants, they ask for recommendations. This isn’t so much of a problem for French, Japanese and even Indian cuisines. But when it comes to Italian, it’s a more difficult proposition. Firstly, there are too many choices and as an Italian I can see the positives and negatives of each establishment, in a way that I can’t do with the others.
Yet, there is an Italian restaurant I had the pleasure of eating at recently, located on the Lower East Side, which I have and will continue to recommend to those aforementioned askers. That restaurant, Sorella, is chic without being pretentious and cool without being annoyingly hip. The staff – from bartender to owner – is friendly, knowledgeable and efficient.
But we aren’t here to talk about the staff or the interior; it’s all about the food and from first mouthful of appetizer to last bite of dessert, my guest and I were in heaven. The creations, prepared with care and skill by, Chef Molly Nickerson, were not only a testament of the quality of food, but also a love song to Italy.
We started with one of my favorite foods – veal sweetbreads. Here it was accompanied with hot cherry peppers, sweet pickle remoulade and parsley. The veal, breaded and pan-fried was tender and juicy. The accouterments were balanced providing heat and sourness that were needed to cut down on the fatty protein.
Other dishes were just as divine. Lingurian anchovies with salsa verde, lemon butter, and hazelnuts, served on flatbread were briny, tart – with the perfect amount of crunch. The vitello tonnato, a perennial favorite in Italy, was served on a crostini with shaved celery, parsley and fried capers. It was truly an enlightened dish.
Mention must be made of the most unique dish on the menu (and arguably the tastiest – the broccoli fritto. Served tempura-style with pickled hot pepper aioli, Granna Padano and basil it is magic to the tongue. I say this with the most sincerity as possible – it was one of the best dishes I have ever tasted. Crispy, warm, spicy and with the on-trend addition of umami, it was a wonder to behold. I went gaga over it.
I would be doing Sorella a disservice if I didn’t mention their pastas. From an Agnolotti with celery root puree, braised oxtail and sage butter to a Pici with spicy pork ragu, Salvatore ricotta and pepperoncini – each pasta dish was a little piece of perfection. Desserts too are worth trying.
No matter what you have, you will leave with a smile on your face. Trust me, there are few places I can so highly recommend. You will enjoy Sorella – it’s a guarantee. •
95 Allen St.