Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Restaurant Week - Sotto Sopra

It's amazing how few restaurants on the Charles Street corridor, a place largely deserted after the businesspeople and lawyers call it a day, have chosen to participate in Restaurant Week. Last night, Neal and I tried out one of the few that did, Sotto Sopra.

I had been in the space during its former incarnation of...gee, what was it? A hip coffee bar? (I think that was over 10 years ago.) but had never visited the lively Italian restaurant that is there today. Sotto Sopra is in a long, narrow space with high ceilings, the walls painted with festive murals. There's a hip bar at the back, and we were seated at a corner booth table nearby. Monday, fortuitously, happened to be half-price wine night, and I sure needed a drink. Our waiter recommended a Dr. Loosen Riesling that was both sweet and tangy and proved a perfect accompaniment for our meals.

The night's special menu selections were:

Dinner Appetizer (choice of one)
Carrot Soup with wild mushroom & balsamic glaze

Proscuitto di Parma
Imported Prosciutto from Parma with fresh Mozzarella in a Parmesan Basket

Carpaccio di Manzo
Thinly sliced lemon-cured beef served with celery, shaved Parmesan cheese and Lemon-truffle oil dressing

Insalata di Rucola
Baby arugula served with crispy apple-wood smoked bacon, crumbled goat cheese and dried cherries with stone ground mustard-sherry vinaigrette

Dinner Entrée (choice of one)
Risotto di Funghi
Risotto with wild mushrooms served with duck confit and veal demi glaze

Porcini Ravioli
Homemade ravioli stuffed with porcini & mascarpone served with Veal reduction sauce and sautéed frisse'

Petto di Pollo Farcito
Roasted free-range chicken breast stuffed with sage, fig, proscuitto and foccacia served with grilled Peppers Agro dolce and mashed potatoes with an herb reduction sauce

Dinner Dessert (choice of one)

Fresh Mixed Fruit with Vanilla Bean Gelato

Neal went for the carpaccio, chicken breast, and fruit. I had the salad, risotto, and tiramisu. Everything was scrumptious. The carpaccio was "wafer-thin" and had the subtle flavors of truffle oil and lemon. My salad was very tangy and refreshing - important elements for an appetizer eaten after walking several blocks in the humidity.

The chicken breast was tender and juicy, nicely browned on the outside, with a delicious stuffing. The potatoes were fairly ordinary, and the peppers added a nice sweet and sour touch. My risotto was perfectly cooked, rich and flavorful with wild mushrooms, and the leg of duck confit melted in my mouth. True comfort food.

My tiramisu was perfect - light, fluffy, full of coffee and booze flavors. Neal said his fruit and gelato dish was "refreshing," but I thought it was nothing special. So I shared my tiramisu. :)

Would we visit Sotto Sopra again? Most definitely! The service was fantastic, the food delicious, the space interesting and inviting.

Yay for Restaurant Week. May it be a regular tradition in Baltimore.

Sotto Sopra