There's an elegant new white-tablecloth place atop Queen Anne, courtesy of a well-established Seattle restaurant family (La Vita è Bella, Mondello, Ballard's new DiVino wine bar). Italian, of course, all-but-forgotten regional dishes little-known here, created and executed by owner and guiding spirit Enza Sorrentino. Couscous with lobstertail, shrimp and generous side dish of fresh marinara from Sardenia, for instance. Risotto with duck, ravioli with cod or crabmeat, a real vitello tonnato; traditional ossobuco in a saffron and orange sauce, unusual polpo (octopus) in a green sauce. Pizza, too, if you insist, with wood-burning oven & all. Full bar.
Finally got back to Sorrentino for dinner. They were just setting up but we were quickly seated at a table by the window overlooking Queen Anne Ave.. They have now separated the bar from the dining room meaning that you can have kids in this area. Warning: you will be served by the bartender and on this visit it was a noticeable disadvantage as he wasn't familiar with mama's menu whatsoever. Not sure if this extends to the dining room but they are obviously in a hiring ramp up mode as the previous visit we found a new bartender as well that just got back into the biz after a few year hiatus.
After struggling through the ordering process given that most of the menu is in Italian, coupled with our inexperienced bartender/waiter, we settled on the osso buco, chicken legs, a side order of a spinach dish that, again, due to our inability to speak or read italian, we had to take a flier on. Our daughter rounded out the meal with a margherita pizza sans basil which they were happy to do.
A basket of bread was "soda breadish" according to our 7 year old but was very tasty. The glasses of Multipulciano and Sangiovese were very nice and reasonable in price.
When the meals arrived, I was initially surprised by the lack of color/browning on the meat. A very poached appearance. That was quickly dismissed as my veal shank was extremely tender, moist and delicious with an orange gremolata over the top. It was served with rather plain rice. Our chicken dish was extremely tender and fell off the bone while retaining its moisture. They were happy to leave off the potato and instead included some braised mushrooms. The spinach was the surprise of the meal as it had four airy, "frittata like" mounds on the plate with some lightly sauteed spinach in the middle. It was excellent as just enough egg whites were used to bind the spinach and then fried. The texture was amazing. The margherita pizza was very good although I was expecting a crispier crust given the oven that has been a longstanding fixture in this space. Given that we were the first customers, perhaps the oven needed more time? Just a thought.
Overall, if Sorrentino's can work out the service kinks, I feel this may become a Queen Anne institution or at least outlast its last three predecessors (Cucina, Firefly and Lummette).
Couldn't be happier to see the former Firefly/Lumette mediocrities replaced. Sorrentino was nicely full last night, although the big part of this was a party of about 14-16 and we got a table quickly at 8:30. The pizza we tried was quite good. Different from La Vita è Bella but perfect for a shared appetizer instead of salads. The pastas are anything but the standard pasta house fare (Although the serving of my linguine, kalamata olive, caper, tomato, prawn dish in foil was really a bit odd. I'm not crazy about eating out of foil.) I'm looking forward to making my way though the menu.
A great addition to the neighborhood, I enjoyed their osso buco and especially their crab ravioli (which had a nice snappy quality to the pasta, almost like a sausage casing) although i like the osso buco and crab spaghetti at Barolo even more (heartier sauces and richer risotto accompanying the osso buco, and the spaghetti had just a touch of crispiness from being finished in the oven (or a pan?) with bread crumbs and plenty of garlic/olive oil, reminded me of the maccheroni a la chitarra at Babbo
We dropped in for a few glasses of wine, some antipasti and the lobster salad. Very nicely prepared, good full house (on an early Thursday evening), and decent service. This is the real deal with most servers/owners speaking italian and family members in the kitchen. Will go back and try dinner.