Sotto: 99 Essential Restaurants 2011
First of all, Sotto is not really a pizzeria. I thought I'd get that out of the way. Because while there is an oven — a 15,000-pound behemoth ballasted with imported Vesuvian soil — and chefs Steve Samson and Zack Pollack come from Ortica, the South Coast Plaza restaurant that redefined Orange County pizza, and char-freckled pies do issue from its wood-burning depths, pizza isn't really the point of the place, even if soft-centered Neapolitan pies are your thing.
Sotto is a different kind of Italian restaurant: a place where the hot, fresh bread can come with puréed lardo instead of olive oil, if you like it that way; where a special of pan frattau, a kind of Sardinian chilaquiles made with flatbread instead of stale tortillas, is fried with a butcher's bouquet of lamb's innards; and the bruschetta may be smeared not with olive paste but with ciccoli, a paste of lard puréed with pigskin. Samson and Pollack are abbatoir jocks.
The menu at least nominally points to Southern Italy instead of the requisite Tuscan dishes. Witness the little dough puffs called pittule — appetizer doughnuts! — with fresh ricotta and a drizzle of reduced sweet wine. Even the pastas tend to be southern things we haven't seen locally, like the twisted noodles with a thick paste of simmered lamb with raw egg yolk and sheep cheese, which nods to the Middle East. For dessert? Take the cannoli. Of course. 9575 W. Pico Blvd. (310) 277-0210, sottorestaurant.com. Lunch, Tues.-Fri., noon-2:30 p.m.; dinner, Tues.-Sun., 5:30-10 p.m. Full bar. Valet parking. All major CC. Italian.
99 Essential L.A. Restaurants 2011:
Church & State
Din Tai Fung
El Huarache Azteca
Euro Pane Bakery
Fab Hot Dogs
Good Girl Dinette
La Casita Mexicana
Lazy Ox Canteen
Meals by Genet
Musso & Frank Grill
Nem Nuong Khanh Hoa
Newport Tan Cang Seafood Restaurant
Night + Market
101 Noodle Express
Palate Food + Wine
Pollos a la Brasa
Sapp Coffee Shop
Son of a Gun
Tacos Baja Ensenada
Waterloo & City
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