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Sotto is Spectacular

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The title says it all.

But, we had:

-Octopus braised in tomato sauce served over
chickpeas chard and bottarga. Delicious. Tender. Many many layers of flavor. Excellent dish.

-Pork meatballs with pecorino. Outrageously good. Even better with our COS 2009 Frappato

-Grilled Mackeral with cauliflower, preserved lemons, and buckwheat. The mackerel was rich, the skin was crispy, delicious. Yes, I know, I'm using the word delcious way too much. But there isn't much else that needs to be said about Sotto.

-Casarecce pasta with lamb ragu. The pasta was fresh, and had such wonderful developed gluten. The al dente texture was perfection.

-Fileja calabresi with squid ink, tomatoes, and peperoncino. Equally delicious and the pasta was again so amazingly al dente. Trying to pick a favorite was like trying to pick which limb to sever. Painful and impossible.

-Ricotta gnocchi with skate wing sughetto. Very good but was not transcendent like the other 2.

-Margherita pizza. I was afraid it would be too thick looking at yelp photos. The cornichon is a bit thicker than Ortica but the rest of the pizza is just as thin and delicious with high quality tomato sauce buffalo mozzarella, and olive oil. The crust is chewy and flavorful. Charred so it almost gives off as much delicious smokiness as a coal oven pizza.

-Diavolini pizza. Special of the night, sausage, chile peppers, kale (?). Spectacular. The wine director offered us a glass of wine which paired perfectly with the pizza. Also outstanding.

-Fennel crusted pork chop. A delicious piece of protein. Perfectly cooked. Juicy. Flawless execution. As good as it was, I probably would have rather had another pizza or pasta dish.

-Cannoli with orange marmalade, pistachio, ricotta. One of the best cannolis I've had. Crispy outside, light yet rich and satisfying filling

-Sheeps milk yogurt panna cotta. Very interesting. Richer than your standard panna cotta. Delicious.

The pizzas here are spectacular neapolitan style pizzas. The pastas and appetizers were also tremendous. I love the southern Italian cuisine they are serving and how true the wine list stays with obscure southern Italian wines. The wine director is very knowledgable. Chat him up. Ask him for recs. Be prepared to learn and discover.

Sotto is not only a leader in the LA pizza renaissance but they are also introducing LA to specific regional southern Italian cuisine. Needless to say, these people have their stuff together in spades.

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    1. Great report.

      Try the calzone next time if you're so inclined.

      3 Replies
      1. re: ipsedixit

        Would have if it wasn't for the pork chop. Should have. Will do next time.

        1. re: Porthos

          It probably ruined me for all other calzones.

          This place and Racion are probably my two favorite restaurants right now.

          1. re: Porthos

            Great report. Love it there. Personally, I think the pork chop is fantastic there.

        2. Excellent! Glad you enjoyed it. If you ever make it there again, I would definitely recommend the spicy clams.

          Making me want to make another trip there.

          1. Amen!
            What!...you missed the cocktails? They have one with house-made Cel-Rey soda and Bourbon that is so perfect for the heat we have been experiencing.

            4 Replies
            1. re: Ciao Bob

              Went with wine. A sparkling Murgo brut rose for the seafood based antipasti and primi and the 2009 COS Frappato for the meat dishes. Excellent. Can't wait to go back to explore the menu and wine list some more.

              1. re: Porthos

                Try anything from Frank Cornelissen, if he still has some left.
                Truly spectacular, and VERY hard to find.
                http://www.frankcornelissen.it/eng_az...

                1. re: RicRios

                  Info on their Nov 11 Frank Cornelissen dinner:

                  http://www.sottorestaurant.com/2012/f...

                  1. re: Porthos

                    Wow!
                    Reservations requested.
                    Thanks!

            2. Sorry to take issue with you, but when I ate my Margherita at Sotto, it was the first time in my long pizza eating career that I had to use a knife and fork. I have had many good neo pies, but this was not one of them. The hydration percentage of the dough was the greatest I have ever encountered, and that is why the dough is so soft. You will never get a pie with dough like this in Da Michele, Brandi, Motorino or Pauly Gee's.

              4 Replies
              1. re: pizzafreak

                Pizza in Naples is often eaten with a knife and fork.

                I have posted ad nauseam a video of Tony Bourdain's trip to Naples where he eats pies with a knife and fork and comments on how it's supposed to be eaten with a knife and fork. You can see Neapolitans eat it with a knife and fork in the background.

                http://www.travelchannel.com/video/pe...

                For what it's worth, everyone at our table was able to successfully fold our slices in half and consume with pleasure without a knife and fork.

                Yes I've been to Naples and yes, I have been to Brandi. Word has it Brandi is all tourist trap these days so maybe it depends on when you tried it if you are using Brandi as a measure. My visit was over 10 years ago.

                1. re: Porthos

                  Love the pizza (and most everything) at Sotto. Pork cheek pizza is fantastic.

                2. re: pizzafreak

                  If you mean Motorino in NYC, I was there in July and while it was "drier" than other Neopolitan pizzas, when my pizza arrived, the very center was starting to become moist and soft. As the meal progressed, I switched from picking up slices to using a knife and fork in order to finish the pizza which was fantastic by the way.

                  1. re: pizzafreak

                    I don't understand the logic between your comparisons.

                    On the same token, you won't get Pauly Gee's dough in Motorino, nor Da Michele's dough in Brandi. So it's obvious you won't get Sotto's dough in any one of those places, as they are not the same establishment.

                    It's all preference and subjective, which is the beauty of Italian cooking. Everone has their own version.
                    Sure there are standard recipes that use the same standard ingredients, but put those same ingredients in the hands of different individuals, and it can yield vastly different results.

                  2. the cornichon?

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: Nootka

                      In this case, cornichon refers to the raised lip, the crust of the pizza. Not gherkins :)

                      1. re: Porthos

                        i've never heard of that term being used in that manner. sounds way too french for the italians to willingly use to describe their own food (not saying i disbelieve you, btw).

                        1. re: Nootka

                          It's commonly used.

                          From Lidia Bastianich:

                          "It’s all about the crust…the small raised rim around the pizza called the cornichon in Italy."

                          http://goodtaste.tv/friends/lidia-bas...

                          1. re: Nootka

                            cornichon (n.)
                            cetriolino
                            http://translation.sensagent.com/corn...

                            "Casca il cetriolo e va sempre nel culo dell'ortolano"
                            http://forum.wordreference.com/showth...

                        2. re: Nootka

                          FWIW, the word is "cornicione".

                          A good friend of mine is currently making pizza in L.A. I can't say where, but he spent 3 years learning pizza at Da Michele. He currently makes the best pizza I've ever had.

                          Sotto comes in 2nd. I showed my friend some pictures of the pizza we had and his response was, "This is the closest thing in L.A. I see to Napolitan style".

                          I loved the rest of the food too. It's gutsy. I'd have to concur that anyone who disparages the place either went on an off night, or simply "didn't get it".

                        3. I've eaten there twice and loved the food, but will not again after reading about the attitude of their wine guy toward customers. Here's a quote he offered to eater.com: "The other night, an older lady produced a bottle of Valdicava and said to me, 'I'm sure that you know this wine.' I didn't have the heart to tell her that her wine is a modern-style piece of shit...I opened it with a not so genuine but nonetheless passable smile." – Jeremy Parzen, sommelier at Sotto

                          7 Replies
                          1. re: Robert Thornton

                            Why would you let someone else's experience stop you from going to a place you enjoyed twice?

                            He's passionate about wine and has curated a very reasonably priced and interesting wine list. He wants the customer to explore this very interesting wine list and is probably disappointed that someone would bring in a style of wine that doesn't match the spirit of the restaurant (Tuscan wine to a southern Italian restaurant) or perhaps would not pair well with the food (Modern style fruit forward and not enough acidity). Sounds like he smiled and was pleasant to the customer anyways. And it also sounds like he insulted the wine and not the customer which is a very important distinction and IMO reasonable for a wine guy.

                            I'll share with you my experience with him. I sat down, looked at the wine list and told him it looked very interesting but admitted that I was a bit clueless with southern Italian wines as I usually drink French wines. I told him I usually drank Burgundy. He then went through his list and made several suggestions. He offered me tastes of wines by the glass and offered to open bottles for me to try with no obligation to buy. "I'll just sell it by the glass tonight if you don't like it. I'd rather have a customer find a wine they like," he says. After tasting a couple we went with one of his excellent recommendations. He comped us wine to pair with our diavolina pizza due to the spiciness of the pizza. The pairing was outstanding and should be required with that pizza.

                            I saw him circulate the room and treat other tables with the same enthusiasm and commitment.

                            In my experience he treats his customers well, and is exteremely knowledgable and passionate about wine. I couldn't have asked for more from a wine director that night.

                            1. re: Porthos

                              my experience with the sommelier there matched yours. he seemed eager to show off wines the average customer might not be familiar with. the linked comment was funny, and i don't hold it against him as long as he was polite with the customer.

                              1. re: Porthos

                                If you like COS Frappatto, try Occhipinti Frappatto - she's the daughter of the O in COS. Terrific wine.

                              2. re: Robert Thornton

                                While he was probably too candid for his own good, hence your offense, I have found the wine service outstanding and very helpful. When my wife was not sure of a Chard, he brought three to our table and let us all do a tasting of each. I had a similar experience with Scotch. Hopefully,the older lady in question did not see the quote and no harm was done.

                                1. re: Thor123

                                  Nice score on the scotch tasting.

                                  1. re: Porthos

                                    They are great that way, Did one with tequila. One complaint is they pour a measured drink, which really bugs me. That said, still love the food and service.

                                2. re: Robert Thornton

                                  I'm with your Robert. That's the kind of b.s. that gives wine-loving the snobbish label. Even more ego-centric that the guy goes on the record as saying so.

                                3. I like to say that there is no such thing as an expensive good meal, only an expensive bad one. Truth be told, I also like to order doubles when having mixed drinks.

                                  1. Great review. I really love this restaurant, too. I haven't had a bad meal, drink, or wine here so far. It's a good meeting place for westsiders and eastsiders since it's about in the middle with regards to drive time on a weekday.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: cacio e pepe

                                      Driving up from the OC again tonight.

                                      That good.

                                    2. We've moved a digression about measured pour cocktails to the Spirits board at http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/870097

                                      1. Want to chime in with quick comments on Sotto. Excellent pastas! Had the fusilli and rigatoni, both outstanding, some of the best I've had in L.A. Ordered the margherita pizza, while good, not top in my book. That crown still remains with Settebello marg d.o.c. Was a party of 2 so I only got to try the braised octopus and grilled orata besides. Must return to sample more apps, pork chop, and of course pastas.

                                        Btw, my 5th amendment cocktail was made perfectly.

                                        1. Another excellent meal at Sotto. A few changes. First, they are doing the large pork porterhouse instead of the pork chop. Its the same preparation, but larger and IMO not quite as good. Still very good. They have added a fried rabbit dish which was outstanding. The octopus and mackerl were both very good as well. We had the Margherita pizza which was good, but not as good as the pork cheek pizza. Also, of note, the pours on the drinks seemed noticeably larger. Maybe someone saw the chatter?

                                          5 Replies
                                          1. re: Thor123

                                            Had another very good meal at Sotto. After we finished I was talking to the bar tender and our server and commented that the drinks seemed larger. He confirmed that they are now pouring a 2 oz drink. Our server, who was great, said they had had complaints about the drink size in the past and made the change.

                                            1. re: Thor123

                                              Did you notice if they still have the rabbit fusilli dish? Marvelous stuff! Been dreaming about it lately.

                                              1. re: Novelli

                                                Did not see it, but may have missed it. I love the pork chop there and they are aware of it. My server saw our reservation in advance and knew they were out of pork chop. She had the hostess call me to tell me in case I wanted to cancel. Of course I didnt, but I thought that was an incredibly cool thing for them to do. They really get if for both the food and service.

                                                1. re: Novelli

                                                  I went a month ago and commented (4 msgs above) that the fusilli was lovely, as was the other pasta I had. Can't wait to go back and try more items!

                                                2. re: Thor123

                                                  Good to know!

                                              2. I know I'll probably get slammed for mentioning it, but obviously Sotto is not pleasing everyone. The reviews on TripAdvisor and Yelp are very, very mixed. On Yelp they get 3.5/5 stars based on 214 reviews!! Nevertheless, when I'm next in the area, I'm giving it a try!

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: josephnl

                                                  I have noticed this as a trend - there is a large subset of CH favorites that are only 3.5*'s on yelp. Usually from people who "don't get it" - saw someone go to a CH favorite ramen joint and give them a 1* review because of the quality of the california rolls. Uhm, okay?

                                                  At the end of the day, for quality reviews and ratings, CH > Yelp all the time. Yelp is great for finding new stuff though...so the workflow is usually "find restaurant on yelp" then "research restaurant on CH"

                                                  1. re: ns1

                                                    Indeed. Yelp is good for learning of a place's existence, and photos can be really useful too, but there's an inordinate amount of noise in the comments from the clueless masses.

                                                2. Went back to Sotto last night.

                                                  -Blistered gems caesar salad. Nice sweetness and smokiness.
                                                  -Heirloom tomato salad. Excellent.
                                                  -Casarecce pasta with lamb ragu. So good I had to order it twice.
                                                  -Spaghetti with toasted almonds and fennel pollen. A touch sweet but delicious and a nice foil to the other meatier and earthier pastas.
                                                  -Toasted grain fusilli with rabbit and porcini ragu. Outstanding. But maybe because I'm a sucker for porcini and and get nice little tastes here and there.
                                                  -Margherita pizza. So chewy, flavorful, and perfect.
                                                  -Olive oil cake with pine nut crema inglese, whipped cream, and roasted grapes. Every bit as good as it sounds.

                                                  This place rocks.

                                                  5 Replies
                                                  1. re: Porthos

                                                    Gah, you're killing me, Porthos! That fusilli sounds insanely good, I too cannot resist porcini...

                                                    1. re: baloney

                                                      Pastas are amazing here. Fresh yet so al dente. I couldn't decide between the 3 so I didn't. Unfortunately that means no room for the calzone. Will have to try that next time...assuming there aren't more porcini laced pasta dishes to derail me. Also, highly recommend the casarecce with lamb ragu

                                                      1. re: Porthos

                                                        +1 on the casarecce with lamb ragu. Easy to see how you'd order a double serving. It is definitely crave-worthy.

                                                    2. re: Porthos

                                                      I hope you had some help eating all of that! Sounds wonderful. Need to get up there.

                                                      1. re: josephnl

                                                        I had someone helping :)

                                                        I think the noise may be okay for you. Not Hatfield's quiet by any means but not Mozza level either. I highly recommend it. And don't forget to eat your pizza with a fork and knife or fold it in half with a slight backwards flip to get the get wet center to sit on the folded slice and not droop downwards dragging all that delicious sauce and fresh mozzarella with it ;)

                                                    3. Had an anniversary dinner last night and I have to say wow, great dinner. Based on what Porthos had, we shared:

                                                      Blistered little gems - Perfect starter. Smoky, sweet, not overly salty, with a great touch of acid.

                                                      Tomato-braised octopus - Probably our favorite dish of the night. While the last inch or so of the octopus tentacle was too charred, the rest of it was amazingly tender, and despite being braised, had a bit of a crisped skin. The chickpeas were creamy and the tomato sauce was so flavorful. Must order IMO.

                                                      Casarecce - Great pasta. The texture was amazing. The lamb ragu rich and flavorful; could've used a bit more lamb "funk" but that's a small gripe.

                                                      Guanciale pizza - Amazing pizza. Crust was evenly cooked with a great char; chewy yet tender. The salty pork paired very well with the crumbly, mild cheese. Easily one of the best Neapolitan pizzas I've had anywhere.

                                                      Cannoli - Very solid cannoli. The orange marmalade with pistachio worked really well. The shell while crispy, had picked up a bit too much of the flavor of the cooking oil.

                                                      Sotto is a fantastic restaurant; I will 100% be back.

                                                      4 Replies
                                                      1. re: taiwanesesmalleats

                                                        Next time try the pork chop. Best in town.

                                                        1. re: Thor123

                                                          There are tons of things I am looking forward to trying.

                                                          Noise-wise, the dining room was about 3/4 full and while there's a good amount of noise, I never had to shout or was hard of hearing. It was a very comfortable place to have dinner.

                                                        2. re: taiwanesesmalleats

                                                          How was the environment as an anniversary dinner?

                                                          1. re: taiwanesesmalleats

                                                            Saw they have pork coratella and crispy trotters on the menu now...just made my res for this Saturday. CANNOT WAIT!

                                                          2. Sotto Deal -- 30% Off Lumch

                                                            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8106...

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: Norm Man

                                                              Makes that $32 porkchop a mere $20.xx!

                                                              (slight sarcasm mixed with enthusiasm)

                                                            2. tried sotto for the first time today.

                                                              the margherita pizza, imho, was so spectacular that it should properly be categorized as a religious experience.

                                                              the cauliflower soup, not my cup of tea at all. to me it was a strange combination of flavors that didn't work particularly well together.

                                                              the cannoli, was dandy.

                                                              definitely will be returning to this place.

                                                              4 Replies
                                                              1. re: westsidegal

                                                                I knew you'd like it.

                                                                Amazing Neapolitan pie which holds its own against SF and NY's finest.

                                                                You *have* to try the pastas next time.

                                                                1. re: Porthos

                                                                  don't know if i have the self control to tear myself away from that pizza.
                                                                  the intense tomato flavor
                                                                  the high quality cheeses
                                                                  the herbiness of the sauce
                                                                  the basil was only half cooked so it retained more of it's flavor than it would have if it had been fully cooked
                                                                  the perfect amount of char. . . . . . . .

                                                                  they even knew to serve it with a big, solid, knife with a thick enough handle so that eating it was a good tactile experience as well.

                                                                  1. re: westsidegal

                                                                    Pizza AND pasta.

                                                                    Not pizza or.

                                                                    Once you try the pasta you can't say no to the well developed gluten chew and rich sauce.

                                                                    I also like how the high quality olive oil stands out in the Margherita. So complex in its simplicity.

                                                                2. re: westsidegal

                                                                  Been waiting for you to weigh in on Sotto's pizza, WSG! my sentiments exactly!

                                                                3. Porthos is to Sotto what WSG is to Coni Seafood.

                                                                  58 Replies
                                                                  1. re: ns1

                                                                    does porthos have the sergio-equivalent at sotto on speed dial?

                                                                    1. re: linus

                                                                      Nope. That's why it's not that great of an analogy ;-) *big wink*

                                                                      1. re: Porthos

                                                                        Who needs speed dial when you have open table =P

                                                                    2. re: ns1

                                                                      While I haven't, as of yet, dined at Coni, I haven't heard WSG remark about the noise level....it's always been about the food and the impeccable service she receives, and I'm assuming everyone who dines there would comment the same.
                                                                      Having dined 3 times at Sotto, enjoying the pizza and pasta, and getting used to the, at times overbearing, sommelier, there's always that "damn that place is noisy" comment coming from one of us as we leave the front door.
                                                                      While I believe it's imperative to mention this restaurant for people who're looking for great westside restaurants, it's also, imo, important to forewarn potentials about the noise level after 7pm on any given night.

                                                                      1. re: latindancer

                                                                        Oh boy! A noisy restaurant...(not so thinly veiled sarcasm). Have you been to Red Medicine? I find the noise level there to be excruciating...

                                                                        1. re: Servorg

                                                                          Red Medicine, Rustic Canyon, etc....

                                                                          Yes. It's excruciating. So I guess a diner now has to decide the 'excruciating' level from 1-10 when they decide which place to visit next. Or, just decide what's more important....the food or the ability to hear my friends or family while I'm eating the food.

                                                                        2. re: latindancer

                                                                          re: the noise level at coni's

                                                                          coni'seafood is a family-oriented, mom 'n pop restaurant, so the noise level will be very variable depending on how many kids are there, and how many large family gatherings are there at any given time.

                                                                          1. re: westsidegal

                                                                            <depending on how many kids are there>

                                                                            I fully expect that type of noise in certain restaurants or businesses where families are celebrating or whatever the case may be. That's a certain *given*.
                                                                            I'm finding there are more and more great restaurants where I'm not able to hear myself think :). Someone should do a study on the collective human hearing in this city compared to other cities where I'm not having the problem with noisy restaurants. Maybe we're all just partially deaf and we don't know it and the noise level *has* to be high in order for people to think it's normal.

                                                                            1. re: latindancer

                                                                              Someone should do a study on the collective human hearing in this city compared to other cities where I'm not having the problem with noisy restaurants
                                                                              =========================
                                                                              Hmm, I'm pretty sure the packed and popular restaurants in NYC and SF are just as loud if not more since seating is even tighter. Lupa, Babbo, Momofuku Ssam, Balthazar, Pastis in NYC and Cotogna in SF all had healthy noise levels. Going to Commonwealth this Saturday. Will pay attention to the noise level there these days.

                                                                          2. re: latindancer

                                                                            I have never had an issue with the noise at Sotto, nor has anyone else I have dined with there. Were you there on the Marching Band Monday? That can be loud.

                                                                            1. re: Thor123

                                                                              <I have never had an issue with the noise at Sotto>

                                                                              I didn't expect you to respond differently :). You'll, most likely, defend the place to the end. I wasn't imagining it, my partners on the last few visits weren't imagining it, and maybe there's just this new lack of attention to acoustics and noise levels that once used to be part of the design and overall collective when opening a restaurant business. Even in the noisiest of restaurants there was a level where people, could at least, hear the other person without reading their lips.

                                                                              1. re: latindancer

                                                                                New record. 64 posts before someone complained about the noise of a new popular restaurant :)

                                                                                If you guys go early enough, the noise level won't be too bad since it is only half full. By 8pm, I'm guessing that's when the noise becomes a problem for some.

                                                                                1. re: Porthos

                                                                                  I just have to say that you and I differ so completely on what is noisy that I can't use you as any sort of reliable barometer for this particular phenomena (since you don't find Red Medicine to be noisy and it gives me a splitting headache - purely noise driven).

                                                                                  1. re: Servorg

                                                                                    Agree. We don't match up too well re. Animal either. CH is all about finding matching palates and apparently these days, noise sensitivity.

                                                                                    I haven't had any headaches from Red Medicine in my many visits. My 63 year old mother hasn't had problems with the noise either at Red Medicine, Sotto, or Mozza when I take her. My friends and family and I converse just fine in these places.

                                                                                    I understand that it is loud but no more loud than Animal or Cut or Mozza or Gjelina to me. I would put Sotto below Animal in terms of noise level. Obviously much more noisy than Hatfield's. But there are very few places that are popular and not noisy these days. The only place I can't stand the noise level is Bottega Louis.

                                                                                    Someone had some decibel app on their Iphone and was going to measure the noise level at places like Mozza. I wish that thread took off. I'd be happy to install the app and help collect data.

                                                                                    1. re: Porthos

                                                                                      While I've been to Animal a half dozen times and only twice to Red Medicine I have never had either a splitting headache from the noise level at Animal, nor have I been unable to hear the person sitting right next to me, no matter how hard I tried or how loud they talked. I've had both those happen to me each time I have been to Red Medicine. And I love the food at Red Medicine, and would go more often if not for the "enhanced interrogation techniques" noise level there.

                                                                                      1. re: Porthos

                                                                                        <apparently these days, noise sensitivity>

                                                                                        No 'sensitivity' here or with friends/family...lots of musicians so I think we can discount that one.
                                                                                        Age? Not sure how that plays a part either. I've known a few 80 year olds who can out dance and out party most who've given up and gone to bed. Noise sensitivity isn't the factor here....it's wanting to hear the other person, sitting across and to the side of me, when I'm eating.
                                                                                        Sotto's a relatively small space. The acoustics would have to be very carefully design, planned and executed. I can only assume they've decided this was the best plan for them.

                                                                                        1. re: latindancer

                                                                                          ...it's wanting to hear the other person, sitting across and to the side of me, when I'm eating.
                                                                                          ========================
                                                                                          That's implying that all the people that pack Sotto and Red Medicine don't enjoy conversation as much as you? Only people that don't have any meaningful conversation go to these places? It's loud because many people are having many conversations.

                                                                                          Age matters because older men are more susceptible to hearing loss. It's a medical fact. Feel free to google and look at the Cleveland Clinic link. Look at questions 2-4. Musicians are susceptible. It has nothing to do with activity or health.

                                                                                          1. re: Porthos

                                                                                            Well, no need to counter here, it's just my opinion.

                                                                                            Look, I know you love the place and it's people like you who will defend them, no matter what. Restaurants in this city, that come and go quickly, need people like you.
                                                                                            I wish them all the best, seriously.

                                                                                            1. re: latindancer

                                                                                              I edited my above post to explain why your musician friends may have difficulty hearing at Sotto or anywhere else that is loud. It's not about countering or debate or "people like me".

                                                                                              I'm pretty sure this explains why there are such disparate opinions regarding noise level when dining. And that's why maybe taking an earlier seating on an off night *may* help if you enjoy the food enough to return.

                                                                                            2. re: Porthos

                                                                                              I know I'm going to kick myself for asking this question....

                                                                                              With all due respect, Porthos, what does possible hearing loss with a musician have to to do with the musician feeling like a restaurant is too loud?

                                                                                              1. re: latindancer

                                                                                                Did you look at the Cleveland Clinic website? Please take a look and look over the questionnaire.

                                                                                                Adults with hearing loss often complain restaurants are too loud and have difficulty with conversation and hearing with background noise.

                                                                                                It's not the restaurant's fault that they are busy and successful putting out a good product. They can't tell their guests to speak softly or offer fewer seatings. If you like a restaurant, dining earlier will ensure you don't have to make the choice between your company or the restaurant.

                                                                                                Those complaining bitterly about the noise should take a step back and realize they are in the minority though. One day in the 8th grade, I was convinced the projector was out of focus. I asked no less than 4 classmates if they thought the board was blurry. It wasn't for them. Turns out I needed glasses.

                                                                                                1. re: Porthos

                                                                                                  <Adults with hearing loss often complain restaurants are too loud>

                                                                                                  That's assuming the people who're complaining about the loud noise at Sotto have hearing loss. The article also reads that there are a myriad of other professions who could also be subject to the loud noise in restaurants. My hearing is excellent, actually as I have it checked yearly, and not all the people I've been with are musicians, so...
                                                                                                  Once again, your allegiance to Sotto is admirable and I'm sure you're not alone in your thinking. I really do like the food though :).

                                                                                                  1. re: latindancer

                                                                                                    That's assuming the people who're complaining about the loud noise at Sotto have hearing loss.
                                                                                                    =====================
                                                                                                    Ahhh, but those complaining are assuming the noise at Sotto is too loud for everyone else right? :)

                                                                                                    Glad we agree the food is excellent!

                                                                                                    1. re: Porthos

                                                                                                      My hearing loss and inability to hear my dining companions, whatever that might be at this point, had nothing to do with the splitting headache created by the sheer volume of noise I experienced at Red Medicine. And I don't find Animal anyplace close to the same level of cacophony as I found at RM on two occasions.

                                                                                                      1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                        Sorry to hear about your headache. It's too bad since the food is so good (they need to bring back the porridge though). It's fortunate most people don't get splitting headaches after dining at RM.

                                                                                                        1. re: Porthos

                                                                                                          <It's fortunate most people don't get splitting headaches after dining at RM>

                                                                                                          How did you come to that conclusion?

                                                                                                          1. re: latindancer

                                                                                                            Not many reports here or on Yelp mentioning splitting headaches except Servorg here.

                                                                                                            Plus if more people had splitting headaches, it probably wouldn't be so busy and loud :)

                                                                                                            1. re: Porthos

                                                                                                              It's hard to say, based on 2 mentions of sources, how many people walk away with headaches, wracked nerves, irritation or whatever... RM made me want to walk out before I tasted the food on a busy Thursday night @ 7:30. I vowed I'd never go back unless they toned down the chaos. So...because a Yelper or CH doesn't mention a headache, even though they mention the noise factor, that makes Servong an anomaly or, in your eyes, overly stating a known fact?

                                                                                                              The fact is, I recall a RM thread where some very prominent CHers gave very mixed and solid reviews on the noise level...
                                                                                                              Could be you *like* excruciatingly loud restaurants, that do cause headaches, because you certainly do defend them.

                                                                                                              1. re: latindancer

                                                                                                                I like restaurants for the food. The noise or lack thereof doesn't matter to me. I like busy noisy ones like Mozza, Gjelina, RM, Sotto and quieter ones like Hatfield's, Shunji, Mori, Kasen, n/naka, Providence. I am able to have conversations in all of them, 2-3 hours worth...for now :)

                                                                                                                There have been many varying reports about noise levels. But only Servorg gets a splitting headache. I don't doubt he does. Just saying it's fortunate not more people do. Splitting headache probably would be something people would mention if it were that common.

                                                                                                                Not sure how you guys want these restaurants to "fix" the noise levels though. Be less successful? Close for an extended period of time for renovations to pad the walls? Doesn't make financial sense. What if after all that wall padding it's still too loud for some people? Turn down the music? But everyone else seems to enjoy it.

                                                                                                                Think this thread drift has run it's course.

                                                                                                                Cheers and chow :)

                                                                                                                1. re: Porthos

                                                                                                                  I agree.

                                                                                                                  Thanks :)

                                                                                                  2. re: Porthos

                                                                                                    a restaurant can do many things with sound-deafening material to ease the situation.

                                                                                                    take a look at how it was handled at A Votre Sante in brentwood. they disguised the acoustical material so that it looks like it is part of the artwork on the walls.

                                                                                                    years ago, Cafe del Rey did something similar with sheets of cork.

                                                                                                    (i'm looking into the same approach for my house since replacing my carpet with hard surface material.)

                                                                                                    1. re: westsidegal

                                                                                                      I am in the construction biz. Yes there are a lot of things possible for sound attenuation. Some expensive and time consuming, some not. Of course occupancy and table spacing also have a large affect but also hurt the bottom line. Attenuating sound is just not as important in this day of tavern/bistro style dining. That does not mean that loud is not a negative. People can still converse, but not as easily, and at a much louder than normal volume.
                                                                                                      I can say for a fact that I conversed with the owner of one of the restaurants in this thread. He said he knows his place is really noisy, but purposefully keeps it that way and doesn't contemplate any steps to lessen the noise. He says the vibe works, and that they actually want to turn the tables as fast as they can. That they don't actually want people to linger.

                                                                                                      I believe that Sotto can be noisier than ideal, not unlike RM or Gjelina, and numerous others. I'll still go because the food is excellent, but will occasionally opt against the uber-loud places. Bestia is similar in cuisine btw. I have had a couple of pizzas at Sotto that were over-charred, and I don't mind charred things. Otherwise the food is really good.

                                                                                                      1. re: john gonzales

                                                                                                        <and doesn't contemplate any steps to lessen the noise>

                                                                                                        Exactly. I've known that all along, because there's obviously no attempt to lessen the noise. It's one of the many reasons restaurants come and go, why people reevaluate their priorities, no matter how good the food is, and quit going.
                                                                                                        It's pure common sense, on the owner's part, and if the decision is made to keep it that way then, imo, they deserve everything that comes next.

                                                                                                        1. re: latindancer

                                                                                                          could you give an example of a place that closed because it was too loud?
                                                                                                          could you give an example of a restaurant that was loud, became much more quiet due to cosmetic changes, and thus became more popular?

                                                                                                          bottega louie remains open, shows no signs of slowing, is the loudest joint in town and the food is just bad.

                                                                                                          batali restaurants are notorious for their volume. they seem to be doing o.k.

                                                                                                          1. re: linus

                                                                                                            You can't make everyone happy all the time. Tinkering with a formula that is successful for 90-95% of the dining population to satisfy the 5-10% unhappy population could result in alienating an even larger percentage of your clientele.

                                                                                                            These restaurants won't go out of business because a few people find them too loud and those people that find these places too loud can find a reasonable substitute for most of these restaurants (hard to find an alternative to RM or get pizza and pasta as good as Sotto IMO). Both parties will survive.

                                                                                                            I don't go to 2 restaurants in LA anymore due to management/service issues but I don't believe my not going is going to devastate those restaurants and cause them to shut down either.

                                                                                                            1. re: Porthos

                                                                                                              If it did I would have shut down Fig & Olive some time ago. I do take solace in the fact that it seems to get little love on this board these days.

                                                                                                              1. re: Porthos

                                                                                                                Not sure where you're coming up with 90-95%. There's no wayto figure out numbers, but I would say the majority of diners would prefer that a restaurant not be very loud. Why would you want a place to be loud? One hears/reads negative comments about noisy, crowdedplaces all the time.
                                                                                                                No one is saying that they will close down, but that it can be a detraction. I'd say one could be pretty sure that SOME customers opt foran alternative
                                                                                                                So the issue becomes, what it entails to reduce noise and whether that actually alienates people. Also whether, as I alluded to above, the owners really care. Since few people want the noise, one would assume that they could only be alienated by a price increase or a change in aesthetics. One factor is whether the newish "tavern" places need to have suchclose spacing and so many occupants. I think we'd all be better with a little more spacing. That then comes down to whether a place can thrive with fewer tables. In Sotto's case I'd say probably yes.
                                                                                                                More practically they just introduce some attenuation techniques that can help. Some are really not that complicated and can be done after the fact. I doubt that you would be offended or alienated by the results. The costs aren't great especially if incorporated prior to opening. These places spend millions on build-out so it's really not a major factor.

                                                                                                                1. re: john gonzales

                                                                                                                  where one person says "noisy" another says "lively"

                                                                                                                  1. re: john gonzales

                                                                                                                    Not sure where you're coming up with 90-95%. There's no wayto figure out numbers, but I would say the majority of diners would prefer that a restaurant not be very loud. Why would you want a place to be loud?
                                                                                                                    ===================================
                                                                                                                    The percentages were used for discussion purposes. Given how packed these restaurants are and the inability to get seating for certain nights, they do business just fine with new and repeat customers so the majority must be okay with the noise.

                                                                                                                    Regarding your assumption that most diners would prefer a restaurant not to be loud, that is a huge assumption.

                                                                                                                    As ns1 states above, one person's "loud" is another's "lively". Restaurants in NYC have been loud, packed, and successful for quite some time. As you mentioned in your previous post, this sort of tavern style dining and room design is very popular all across the country these days from NYC to Chicago to LA to Seattle and beyond. So clearly most diners at the very least don't mind loud restaurants and may even prefer it. There are many older more quiet restaurants around town that don't do as well from a business perspective. I was shocked one Friday or Saturday evening that Hatfield's was only 50% full. Great food, nice room, excellent service, quiet...but not nearly as busy as it should or could be.

                                                                                                                    Call it vibe or whatever, the formula works not because people don't like it.

                                                                                                                  2. re: Porthos

                                                                                                                    Porthos...although I very much respect your knowledge and opinions regarding food, I think you are very wrong when you imply that 90-95% of the dining public likes noisy restaurants. Aside from the diners, I can assure you that many servers very much dislike working in noisy restaurants. This was recently reported on in the NY Times where in NYC there have been lawsuits brought by servers who are concerned about the noise causing hearing loss (not to mention making their jobs more difficult due to having to speak more loudly, asking diners to repeat orders, etc.).

                                                                                                                    I have pretty normal hearing (it's been tested recently), yet it remains a fact that to be heard, one must speak louder than the ambient noise level (unless the conversationalist is a good lip reader). Thus in very noisy restaurants, one must obviously pretty much shout to be heard. Many of us (way more than 5-10% imho) don't like this.

                                                                                                                    There are, of course, many things that can be done to reduce the ambient noise level in restaurants. Some restaurants play extremely loud music, thus encouraging louder speaking (you have to speak over the music). Obviously replacing hard surfaces with soft, reduces noise. Spacing tables further apart reduces noise. Seating larger parties in an area away from twosomes...etc., etc.

                                                                                                                    I think it's a matter of choice that many, if not most, newer restaurants are very noisy. Obviously, there are many persons (like you) who like energetic vibe, and are not bothered by either the noise or the need to speak more loudly. Additionally, there have been studies that have shown that people eat more quickly in a noisier environment (please don't ask me for the reference, but they have been posted on CH in the past and I've read them) resulting in greater table turnover. I can't help but think that the reason for this is that the noise results in less conversation, and likely a discomfort (probably subliminal for many) leading to wanting to finish eating sooner.

                                                                                                                    An interesting article on all of this is: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/20/nyr...

                                                                                                                    I may well be in the minority, but many of us (certainly greater than 5-10%) really don't like overly noisy restaurants!

                                                                                                                    1. re: josephnl

                                                                                                                      Again, the percentages were for discussion purposes. If you assume 70% like/don't care and 30% dislike it, you figure the restaurant probably wouldn't be at capacity every night and have to turn away reservations night in and night out. They would be more quiet because less people are going.

                                                                                                                      Whatever percentage you decide to assign keep in mind that it's loud because it is filled to capacity and beyond, demand is greater than supply, and keep in mind these restaurants do excellent business which requires repeat customers. A large number of them. It's not one and done for most people with these restaurants.

                                                                                                                      Can't wait for your report so we can get back on topic :)

                                                                                                                  3. re: linus

                                                                                                                    give an example of a place that closed because it was too loud?>

                                                                                                                    I didn't say that, linus....if you're at all interested I said "it's one of the many reasons restaurants come and go". Never, once, in any of my posts did I say it was the main reason restaurants fail.
                                                                                                                    I don't think anyone can definitively say why any given restaurant fails....it's pure speculation on the part of the public.

                                                                                                                    1. re: latindancer

                                                                                                                      i didn't say you said it was the main reason, either.
                                                                                                                      however, you do say "it's one of the many reasons restaurants come and go."
                                                                                                                      how can anyone know this is a reason at all?
                                                                                                                      i'll go out on a limb here and say i've never heard of any restaurant shutting its doors because it's too loud, and i would be very, very surprised if that was ever one of the reasons for a restaurant closing.

                                                                                                                      it just doesn't make sense to me. yes, i understand if some people don't want to go to a restaurant because it's too loud.
                                                                                                                      however, empty restaurants are rarely loud. full restaurants are often loud. empty restaurants tend to close. full restaurants tend to stay open.

                                                                                                                      1. re: linus

                                                                                                                        Um...

                                                                                                                        There are a myriad of reasons why restaurants come and go.
                                                                                                                        What was the name of that restaurant, in the apparently jinxed space on Melrose, that offered no menus? It was just a few short months ago and I can't even remember the name. Everything was written on one of a half dozen black boards that rolled around and bumped all the guests in their heads. Was it the stupid new concept that made them close their doors less than a year from when they opened? Was it the chaotic service? Was it the space? Was it the food? Was it the noise level? I have no idea...the people quit coming and the profit, if there ever was one, nose dived. No customers? No restaurant.

                                                                                                                        1. re: latindancer

                                                                                                                          It was called Avacados Heart I believe and what a stupid concept with the rolling chalk boards that made each table a claustrophobic hole. Saw that coming from a mile away. Now its Smoke steakhouse which looks interesting but has been empty every time I have stopped by. Way too quite for me!

                                                                                                                          1. re: Thor123

                                                                                                                            That space has had many, many restaurants start up and fail in the last decade....I've lost count.
                                                                                                                            Don't know what goes through the mind of someone who thinks their invention is going to make it when all others before them have failed within the first year.
                                                                                                                            Of course Smoke is empty....

                                                                                                                    2. re: linus

                                                                                                                      Look, I really couldn't care less. I began this discussion based on my observations. It's been interesting because my assumptions about restauranteurs and their loud restaurants is correct....they've made the choice to keep it that way, or actually encourage it, from the very beginning when it was in the planning stage. Great for them if it works.
                                                                                                                      I have my favorites in LA and every other city where I travel. I love to try new restaurants and if they offer what I love, the ambience is cohesive with my standards, them I'm a good customer 'til the end, if there is one.

                                                                                                                      1. re: linus

                                                                                                                        I know that Rustic Canyon installed baffling and significantly changed its decor in order to decrease noise. In my opinion, it went from a place that was too noisy to fully enjoy during dining "rush hour" to one I can enjoy at any time (even though it is still a pretty noisy place). Things can and are often done.

                                                                                                                        That said, I have a pretty high tolerance for noise. I'm a yeller until a have a few . . . then I'm a really loud yeller. :)

                                                                                                        2. re: Porthos

                                                                                                          --Someone had some decibel app on their Iphone and was going to measure the noise level at places like Mozza.--

                                                                                                          That was me, Porthos. I abandoned the idea because the two apps I tried were not consistent, sensitive, and/or accurate enough to provide a reading that had any meaning. I also realized that we would need to have such strict rules for how we took the measurements in order for us to be able to compare each other's readings, it would really be cumbersome and potentially not fun. But if anybody has a recommended app and/or a good suggestion for how to run the experiment simply but accurately, I'm still up for it!

                                                                                                          1. re: aching

                                                                                                            I think if we use the same app (whichever is most accurate in your opinion) and we note date, day of the week, time, location within restaurant (by bar, kitchen, center of room, etc.) maybe we could get a meaningful list going and then people with noise sensitivities can pick the date, time and/or location of restaurant with lowest reading if they so choose to return. It might take a year to gather all the data and put it into a chart but it could be useful. In the meanwhlie, it would be posted to the thread which may be partially useful. I am game to collect data. Someone will have to do Animal though... ;-)

                                                                                                      2. re: Porthos

                                                                                                        <problem for some>

                                                                                                        It's just not my 'cup of tea' to not be able to hear myself think while I'm out with friends....those days have come and gone. I suppose if I began the night with a few martinis along with a partial bottle of wine it wouldn't be a problem. I like to dine around 7 so the only thing we have to do is re revaluate our priorities.

                                                                                                        1. re: latindancer

                                                                                                          At 7, if not a pin, you will hear your fork drop. It will not be loud at 7.

                                                                                                        2. re: Porthos

                                                                                                          I'm finally getting to Sotto later this week. Looking forward to the food which sounds great...but I definitely don't like terribly noisy restaurants. We'll see! If I find it tolerable, I think most anyone will.

                                                                                                          1. re: josephnl

                                                                                                            Try to get an earlier seating. That may help with noise.

                                                                                                            Don't forget to try some pasta.

                                                                                                            And remember, wet center :-)

                                                                                                            Glad you're going to give it a try!

                                                                                                            1. re: Porthos

                                                                                                              We have a 6pm res. but may be able to get there a bit earlier. My partner is pretty much a vegetarian, so we'll likely split a marguerita pizza. I'll probably have the lamb ragu pasta. Is there a vegetarian pasta you'd recommend?

                                                                                                              1. re: josephnl

                                                                                                                That margherita is delicious. The buffalo mozzarella, the olive oil, the tomatoes, the crust. Every part so good on its own and so amazing together. Fold in half and support the tip with your fork as you lift it or do the fork and knife thing. Stop what you're doing and eat it as soon it arrives to minimize the wet center.

                                                                                                                Regarding vegetarian pasta, unfortunately you only have 2 choices it seems according to the online menu. I had the spaghetti with toasted almonds and fennel pollen. It's good but slightly sweet (as cream is sweet). Your other option is one with tomatoes and fiore sardo. They do a great job with their handmade pastas (little portions since they are hand made) so it's probably a win win no matter what you pick.

                                                                                                                Salads are no slouch here. Your partner may enjoy the "summer" tomato panzanella.

                                                                                                                The casarecce with lamb ragu is killer.

                                                                                                                Looking forward to your report and good luck with the noise level!

                                                                                                                1. re: Porthos

                                                                                                                  At 6 pm they will hear a pin drop!

                                                                                                            2. re: josephnl

                                                                                                              also, Sotto was not noisy at all during lunchtime

                                                                                                  3. We finally had dinner at Sotto last night! Excellent margherita pizza! Their crust is the best I've had in LA, and I fully appreciate their quality of ingredients. We also ordered the olives, bread and olive oil, and a pizza with sunchokes, onions, and pecorino. Unfortunately, our second pizza (I forgot the name but it started with an I) was less appealing. The onion marmalade created a sweetness that, in my opinion, wasn't balanced. We were hoping to try the Diavolina, but I can't eat pork and they politely refused changes. Despite the second pizza, which has more to do with my own taste preferences than a lack on their part, the food was delicious. My husband and I will be returning to try the octopus and some pasta!

                                                                                                    1. We went tpo Sotto yesterday. 3 had the DineLA lunch menu including all 3 appetizers, 2 marg Pizzas, 1 mackeral sandwich and 3 canolis. The appetizers, pizzas and canolis were all excellent and large and perfect and delicious. The mackeral sandwhich was not a huge hit - but may be an acquired taste. I ordered the porcetta sandwich which I adore. Big mistake - how can pork belly be dry? I do not klnow but it was. Also had a walnut sidecar - also yummy. DineLA menu for $20 was an incrdible bargain.

                                                                                                      1. Finally got to Sotto last night and had a terrific dinner there. Everything was spot-on!

                                                                                                        We started with cocktails (I'm a big martini fan!). I was surprised at their size! Others had posted here that Sotto's drinks were on the small size. I disagree! Sure, some places make larger drinks, but our martinis were of good size, and very well made. As seems to be the trend at some newer restaurants, Sotto's spirits are largely from lesser known, smaller boutique distilleries. Our drinks were great!

                                                                                                        We started by splitting a blistered little gem salad which was excellent, and then split a wonderful margherita pizza. The pizza was excellent with very flavorful sauce, excellent cheese, and a very good crust. It was typically Neapolitan with a floppy center (which I have learned to accept) and a nice chewy edge. Although we loved the pizza, we both thought we'd give a very slight edge to the crust at Ortica and Mozza (both in Orange County).

                                                                                                        My vegetarian partner then had the Maharrones de pungui (tomato, fiore Sardo), and I had the Casarecce with lamb ragu. Both pastas are made in house, and were superb! The sauces were equally delicious, and the pastas were perfectly cooked with just the right amount of chew.

                                                                                                        We ended our dinner with the excellent olive oil cake (with pine nut crema inglese and honey whipped cream) and espresso.

                                                                                                        We had some very nice glasses of wine with our dinner. Our service was friendly, knowledgeable and attentive.

                                                                                                        Who said that Sotto is noisy? I truly hate overly noisy restaurants, but Sotto was not. OK, we arrived when the restaurant opened at 5:30 pm and it was empty. But...when we left at about 7:00pm, it was about 75% full, with a pretty energetic crowd, and the noise level was very acceptable and conversation was easy...way better than many others in LA (Fig & Olive being among the worst).

                                                                                                        Sotto is our new favorite casual Italian in Los Angeles (it was Angelini). For something fancier, we love Madeo.

                                                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: josephnl

                                                                                                          You are spot on. Also, the drinks are larger now than they were 6 months ago. Next time try the pork chop. Its the best!

                                                                                                          1. re: josephnl

                                                                                                            Glad to hear you enjoyed it.

                                                                                                            Would have recommended the blistered gems but it has anchovies. Not sure how strict vegetarian your partner was.

                                                                                                            Also good to hear noise wasn't a problem

                                                                                                            Thanks for reporting back.

                                                                                                            1. re: Porthos

                                                                                                              My partner does eat some fish...and on rare occasions may be tempted to eat a little beef. He is largely, but not strictly, vegetarian.

                                                                                                          2. Tried it once recently with an out of town guest. After reading some of the reviews here, it must have been an off night for Sotto. Service was great, but the appetizer bread was burned, the fish overly salty and dry, the dessert...very meh. The server was very professional and allowed me several tastes of different wines before I found the one that hit the spot.

                                                                                                            However, will not be going back, too many other restaurants that don't serve burned salt lick food and bland, boring desserts. We tried.

                                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                                            1. re: Francesca

                                                                                                              Did you like the pizza at least?

                                                                                                              1. re: Francesca

                                                                                                                You must really have hit it on an off night. We were at Sotto for the first time last week, and everything...drinks, salad, pizza, 2 pastas, and a dessert were terrific. I think you should at least consider giving it another go...perhaps just sit at the bar and have a glass of wine and a pizza.

                                                                                                              2. Dinner last night at Sotto, where the pizza was the Guanciale with the house-cured pork cheek, ricotta, scallions, fennel pollen was just too wet. Not the wet center, per se, but the ingredients just turned the middle into a soggy mess. I loved the outer crust. But this paring of type of pizza and wet ingredients were just too much in the way of "Gilgamesh" epic for me. Also had the pork meatballs (good) and octopus (also good). The dessert was the bittersweet chocolate crostata. The dessert, and the wine my friend brought ($25 corkage) - a 2006 Hoopes Cabernet - really made the meal. I'll go back and get into the pastas next time and try some more of their small plates, but the word spectacular wouldn't be my choice of adjectives for what I ate last night. Solid comes to mind.

                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                                  How was the noise level? ;-)

                                                                                                                  Not sure you would like the other pizzas any more since yours should have been the least wet pie due to it not having tomato sauce.

                                                                                                                  The pastas are pretty spectacular for my tastes, especially the casarecce with lamb ragu. Hope you do try them next time.

                                                                                                                  If you do try the pizza again, maybe try the Calzone? I love the margherita the most but that is probably the most wet one with the combination of fresh mozzarella and tomato sauce. Fresh mozarella oozes some water on cooking which adds to the wetness. Delicious for some, a mess for others.

                                                                                                                  1. re: Porthos

                                                                                                                    We were there on the early side (6:30), so noise wasn't bad until after 7:30 and then it climbed to a pretty conversation defying din by the time we left at around 8 PM. And that was in a less than full room. Wouldn't want to be there on a Saturday during "prime time" as it would be unbearably loud.

                                                                                                                2. I had another wonderful meal at Sotto last night. Always a pleasure. Totally stuffed! Absolutely no room left for dessert.

                                                                                                                  Started off the night with the bread and burrata. In the dozen or so times I've been here, the bread has always been great. But something about the bread tonite was a revelation! It really stood out as being, probably, the best bread I've had there! Supple, not over grilled, perfect chew and crispness!

                                                                                                                  Then we moved on to the spicy clams. Each time I go, I tell myself I'm going to order something different. Well, I do, but still end up getting the clams, as well. Probably my favorite menu item. They were plump, spicy, and had tons of nduja. Very hearty and satisfying.

                                                                                                                  We then went for the almond crusted sweetbreads, as they were a new menu item, and I love me some offal. These were wonderfully crisp from the fried almond coating, and ridiculously creamy on the inside. The cauliflower passata was smooth and sweet (almost spring pea-like in flavor), and the sardo was perfectly salty. If anything, I would have liked some acidity to help cut through the richness of the creamy sweetbreads and cauliflower (perhaps a fresh squeeze of lemon juice, or even some lemon zest) . But it was indeed excellent! My girlfriend had no idea what sweetbreads were, so I waited until we were in the car driving home before I told her what it was. She enjoyed it at the time, but I think her searching for pics on the web once we got home may have killed any re-try for her in the future. LOL oh well, more for me!

                                                                                                                  Next we had the cassarece w/ lamb ragu. *drool* Aptly cooked al dente pasta and that rich ragu was everything I remember. Very good.

                                                                                                                  What would be a trip to Sotto without a pizza? We ordered the margherita w/ bufala. Couldn't have asked for a better pizza. As most know, it is incredibly good. Everything was spot on.

                                                                                                                  I was beyond full, trying to jog my fat ass across the street in traffic to the Ralphs underground parking. Took me a few minutes and some deep breaths to start the car up.

                                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                                  1. re: Novelli

                                                                                                                    Sounds spectacular!

                                                                                                                    1. re: Novelli

                                                                                                                      Was there last night and tried the spicy clams per your rec. Very good. Really like the bread in the broth. Other than that stuck with my standard, pork chop (which I like better than the pork porterhouse) and pork cheek pizza (great). As always, the service was wonderful. Dont let the Ralphs secret get out though!

                                                                                                                    2. Had another great meal at Sotto. Unfortunately, I cant help but order the pork chop and pork cheek pizza. This time added the octopus which was outstanding. The mackerel is really good too. As always the service was stellar (thank you Rachel) and the drinks were a nice pour. Sotto no longer pours the meager shot it did a year or so back. So good!

                                                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: Thor123

                                                                                                                        Headed there tonight!

                                                                                                                        1. re: Porthos

                                                                                                                          Are you doing the pork chop?

                                                                                                                          1. re: Thor123

                                                                                                                            The pastas are my barrier. Can't get past the pastas and the Margherita pizza.

                                                                                                                      2. Another great meal at Sotto.Octopus wonderful, pork cheek pizza superb. One thing I have concluded is that the pork chop is superior to the pork porterhouse although the preparation is similar. The porterhouse is a menu staple, but they will do the chop if asked.

                                                                                                                        1. Had dinner at Sotto on Saturday. The food and service was as good (better) than ever. The pork chop remains the best in town (although I have yet to try Salt's Cure, which may be too salty :)). The pizza and meat balls were great and the drinks were strong. What more can you ask?

                                                                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                                                                          1. re: BSW6490

                                                                                                                            I agree the pork chop is outstanding at Sotto. Have not tried Salt's Cure either. Interested to know how they compare?

                                                                                                                            1. re: BSW6490

                                                                                                                              Thanks for reporting back and the update!

                                                                                                                              My biggest problem there is I have to pass on the pork chop so I can double down on the pastas.

                                                                                                                              1. re: Porthos

                                                                                                                                My problem is just the opposite. I have not been able to sample the pastas because I cant get past the pork chop and brick chicken. Will make it a point next time. Which is your favorite?

                                                                                                                                1. re: Thor123

                                                                                                                                  The casarecce is very good. Basically like carbonara with lamb ragu.

                                                                                                                                  The rigatoni with liver and maitake is also excellent. My new favorite.

                                                                                                                                  Fileja calabresi is really delicious.

                                                                                                                                  I have also enjoyed their whole grain fusilli which was seasonal but there is usually something similar. Great texture.

                                                                                                                            2. Who is Sergio? Didnt he partner with Dagny Taggart?

                                                                                                                              1. Boston hound here. Coming off a great dinner last night at Lucques...Sotto was one small step from inedible. Pizza under sauced , undercooked and under seasoned. Can't remember a pizza I left behind ...including lousy Papa Gino. This was bad. Left behind. Had pork chop and if its best in LA I have a few pigs you need to meet. Over cooked, dry and drowning in dried fennel. Had literally 3 bites and no one seemed to care when I said way too much fennel, couldn't eat it...they smiled and took the chop away nearly intact. Wine list superb and COS Frappatto at 60 bucks was a steal. Asked at FOH to get a cab on way out. They were too busy to call and gave us a phone number. Are you kidding me? Loved as always Lucques. Sotto was a travesty. Just bad and service indifferent at best. Hate to waste one of 2 dinners in LA. But did

                                                                                                                                12 Replies
                                                                                                                                1. re: Capeannetoo

                                                                                                                                  To make good use of CH - you really have to check the taste of the posters who rave about a specific restaurant. You might not agree with them.
                                                                                                                                  I agree with you. And I believe I posted here to that effect. Even a few posts. Not here anymore for reasons I do not know. (sometimes they do that). Some people think the place is great, but my 2 experiences came up short.

                                                                                                                                  Next time you used CH for L.A recs - check this and see who like Lucques - and didn't like Sotto.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: foodiemahoodie

                                                                                                                                    This is a very good point but tough for an out of towner to check which posters their tastes align with because there is no reference point.

                                                                                                                                    Sorry to hear the Capeannetoo didn't enjoy Sotto. Especially it being 1 of 2 dinners. I'm firmly in the Sotto>>Lucques camp so in the future, all I can recommend is that the s/he ignore my preferences or do the opposite. :-)

                                                                                                                                    1. re: Porthos

                                                                                                                                      Well - you can check someone's profile and see their all time favs - but most people don't fill it out. Perhaps it should be a requirement.

                                                                                                                                      How about a restaurant fan-boy test that gives a solid profile. Like (it says) in the eHarmony ads?

                                                                                                                                      I know it sounds like a joke (and I was joking 10 seconds ago), because it would be hard (yet fun) to put together. Though we could do it collectively on C.H. Could be a new thread - ask what questions you would ask if you were interviewing your own personal food taster.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: foodiemahoodie

                                                                                                                                        "...but most people don't fill it out. Perhaps it should be a requirement."

                                                                                                                                        That will be the day that we band of egregious iconoclasts will list lineups such as "Norm's" "Tito's Taco's" "Home Town Buffet" "The Olive Garden" and "Crustacean" (g)

                                                                                                                                        1. re: foodiemahoodie

                                                                                                                                          Well - you can check someone's profile and see their all time favs
                                                                                                                                          ===============
                                                                                                                                          Sure but if they haven't been to LA or if none of those restaurants are in the OP's city, those favorites aren't really helpful in taste alignment.

                                                                                                                                      2. re: foodiemahoodie

                                                                                                                                        Well to save the day I got back from my day trip to San Francisco in time to be a walk in alone at AOC. Sat at bar and thoroughly enjoyed Jamon and the pappardelle with asparagus morels and parmesean sauce. Mama Mia that pasta was good. Couple of glasses of Tempranillo didn't hurt either. Need to be in LA with some frequency going forward so hope to get to know you all and your palates better......

                                                                                                                                      3. re: Capeannetoo

                                                                                                                                        Perhaps you just don't like Neapolitan style pizza. It's not for everybody.

                                                                                                                                        As for the pork chop - I loved it, but mine definitely was still pink inside. Yours obviously was not.

                                                                                                                                        Some consistency issues at Sotto, it seems?

                                                                                                                                        1. re: Jack Flash

                                                                                                                                          As I have said before, I love the pork chop at Sotto. My favorite to date. Anxious to try Salt's Cure which I hear is outstanding. Anyone had both to compare?

                                                                                                                                          1. re: Thor123

                                                                                                                                            Yes - I have had both. Very different animals (from the same animal). I prefer Salt's Cure - though I have enjoyed Sotto's as well.

                                                                                                                                          2. re: Jack Flash

                                                                                                                                            "Some consistency issues at Sotto, it seems?"

                                                                                                                                            I wish people would learn - you gotta call to make sure Sergio is cooking first.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: ns1

                                                                                                                                              I've never been there when he wasnt!

                                                                                                                                          3. re: Capeannetoo

                                                                                                                                            100% agree.

                                                                                                                                          4. Finally made it to this place (my partner and I were looking to try something outside of our usual rotation).

                                                                                                                                            Really enjoyed it. We walked in around 7PM yesterday and were able to snag a seat at the bar. Moderate noise level, seating was comfortable enough. Had the mussels, spaghetti w/ spicy octopus ragu, and guanciale pizza. All were really delicious. Taste of the mussels themselves was nothing special, but they were so perfectly cooked (very tender). Sauce accompanying the mussels were divine. Spaghetti was splendid, but I couldn't discern any octopus chunks. =( Also felt that the portion size was bordering on tasting-portion size. Pizza was great, w/ a perfectly runny fried egg. I can understand the criticism about the dough, but I really liked it and think it's a nice contrast to the crusts available at the other places around town. Bartenders were very pleasant and seemed quite skilled (per my partner; I know nothing about alcohol).

                                                                                                                                            Kind of pricey but quality is very good and looking forward to going back.

                                                                                                                                            1. "-Casarecce pasta with lamb ragu. The pasta was fresh, and had such wonderful developed gluten. The al dente texture was perfection."

                                                                                                                                              Is the ragu supposed to have a kind of sour taste to it? I had it the other day, and was somewhat put off by that.

                                                                                                                                              I wasn't sure if it was just me, or the dish was a bit off.

                                                                                                                                              5 Replies
                                                                                                                                              1. re: Stravinsky

                                                                                                                                                It's has pecorino in it which is sheep milk based. That might be what you're talking about. Has been consistent and good the 3-4 times I've had it.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: Porthos

                                                                                                                                                  Porthos, I've noted that there seem to be several recent unfavorable comments re Sotto. Has something changed there?

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: josephnl

                                                                                                                                                    Actually, my experience was based on a couple trips well over a year ago.

                                                                                                                                                2. re: Stravinsky

                                                                                                                                                  I didn't like their lamb ragu either. Pretty disappointing.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: foodiemahoodie

                                                                                                                                                    Yeah, it was the only thing I wouldn't order again from what I had on a recent trip (last week).

                                                                                                                                                    The pizza was quite good. The bread with lardo was pretty good, though it could've been hotter. The bread with lardo is much better at Chi Spacca, but it's not bad at Sotto.

                                                                                                                                                    The pork meatballs were excellent.

                                                                                                                                                    Perhaps I've simply been ruined by Bucato, or perhaps I just prefer Northern Italian pasta dishes, not sure.

                                                                                                                                                    Sotto in general seems good enough that it may just be my individual tastes coming into play. My mother seemed to like the ragu just fine (but then again, she hasn't been to Bucato yet =P)