You know you're in the right place when you glance at the cocktail menu and see that it serves Butterbeer. No, not just butterbeer. But Hog's Head Butterbeer. And for you non-Potterheads (for the record, I am a big one), that is a drink from this little-known book series called Harry Potter. So pretty much, my experience at Sotto was pretty much love at first sight. For our second Dine LA experience, we chose Sotto. A contemporary Italian restaurant hidden in a dim-lit, yet still elegant, basement on Pico, Sotto is Picca's sister and the brainchild of Steve Samson and Zach Pollack (of Alimento fame). It's certainly not a particularly new place, but it was our first time (I know, I know. We're so behind). And it did not disappoint.
For one of our cocktails, we asked for the bartender to make us something special (we're really not that fussy!), and they created this delicious cucumber, mint, lime, vodka cocktail for us. It was a great way to start the meal, and was a bit too easy to slurp down quickly.
Being the Potterhead that I am, I've had a few tastes of butterbeer before. It's usually a bit too sickly sweet for me, and I've never actually had one with alcohol before this. But this was a great take on the fictional classic, perfectly pairing vodka and Sotto's own "Sotto pop" for a sweet, cinnamon-flavored dessert-like drink.
A little bowl of olives was the first taste off the Dine LA menu. Don't worry-- it wasn't one of the 3 courses, but just a little snack. And as far as marinated olives go, these were fantastic. Loved the acidity and tang of the orange, with the hint of spice from the chilies. The parsley gave it a freshness, and it was a nice palate cleanser.
For the first course off the DineLa menu, we chose the heirloom tomatoes and burrata salad, which wasn't on the regular menu. As a sucker for a good tomato-burrata salad, I was quite pleased with this one. The burrata was super creamy, and the oil on it was nice without overly drenching it. Loved the crispy breadcrumbs as well. The heirloom tomatoes were really nice, if not a tad bit overripe.
Being the mavericks that we are, we decided to do something totally crazy and order some dishes that weren't on the Dine LA menu. This included the Carne Cruda-- an aged prime beef tartare with shaved buffalo grana, scallions, and EVOO-- which was also great. The meat was really flavorful, and the texture was nice. Getting a little cheese and EVOO constituted the perfect bite.
The chicken liver rigatoni was actually listed as a starter, but again, we're mavericks so we ordered it as an entree. And it was ridiculous. The rigatoni was cooked perfectly, with just a little bite to it, keeping the dish from becoming mushy. The chicken liver ragu gave this dish a real meatiness, and you could really taste the chicken liver. We loved this dish.
Our second dish off of the regular menu was the Guanciale pizza. A white pizza with cured pork cheek, ricotto, scallions, and fennel pollen, it was a really light but delicious pizza. And of course, we had to get an egg on top, which gave the pizza a little bit more creaminess. Definitely could've gone for a bit more ricotto, but the crust was amazing. Fluffy and fantastic.
For our dessert, we got an olive oil cake with strawberries, almonds, and sweet ricotto. The cake was good, but wasn't the highlight of the meal.
Overall, the experience was fantastic. Great food, great service, and a casual-yet-upscale atmosphere. We would go back in a heartbeat.