This week, Besha Rodell braces for the wave of forthcoming Italian concepts by reviewing two longstanding LA restaurants, Sotto and Alimento. Sotto, first opened by Steve Samson and Zach Pollack in 2011, was never reviewed by the current Weekly critic who describes it as “one of those restaurants that I fear does not get the ongoing credit it deserves. And it deserves a whole lot of credit.”
Beyond offering “some of the best pizza in the city,” Sotto also boasts “an exceedingly thoughtful range of vegetable antipasti,” meaty pastas that are “warming and comforting and decadent in their saucy glory,” and a “wildly affordable wine list.”
In 2014, Pollack left Sotto to open Alimento in Silver Lake, “a less slavishly authentic Italian restaurant than Sotto but just as serious in terms of culinary ambition.” B. Rod did drop a review on Alimento shortly after it opened, praising the mortadella pig in a blanket and escolar crudo, but bemoaning the “deafeningly loud” room and at times salty dishes.
But two and a half years later, the critic bold describes it as “one of the best restaurants in the city:”
The meals I've had more recently there have been head-spinningly, stunningly great, so much so that at first I wondered if I'd stumbled into a fluke of lucky ordering and high kitchen morale. But subsequent meals have had the same magical quality, for which I found myself saying, "Holy crap, this is good" out loud, multiple times.
It began late in 2015 with a steak dinner that seemed like a splurge at $78 before it arrived, all 40 ounces of perfectly medium-rare rib-eye served sliced on a wooden platter over potato fonduta and under a salsa verde imbued with the distinctive pong of anchovy. The steak had that wondrous bloody tang, the creamy potatoes lent a luxurious foundation, and the unapologetic stank of the salsa verde offered a fishy whiff of sex and wonder. I have not stopped thinking of that steak since. [LAW]
In 2017, Samson will open Rossoblu Downtown and Pollack will open Cosa Buona in Echo Park. With Sotto and Alimento on their resumes, Besha has high hopes for the new eateries:
The thing that Alimento and Sotto have in common, other than the two chefs who helped to change the way we think about Italian cooking in this city, is that they're restaurants you can take for granted, in the best possible way. They're dependably fantastic, service is great, they're always there for you. As a new wave of Italian restaurants crashes onto L.A.'s scene, it's worth giving thanks for the riches we already possess. If their new ventures are half as good, we will be very lucky indeed. [LAW]
Both Sotto and Alimento receive four glowing stars.