Sotto [2] – dineLA Summer 2013

9575 W Pico Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90035
(310) 277-0210

For my first dineLA meal of the Summer 2013 period, I chose one of my $20 lunch choices – Sotto. The restaurant is only 1.5 miles from my work, and their dineLA lunch menu (as well as their regular lunch menu) has the crispy pork belly porcetto sandwich that isn’t on the dinner menus. As I previously mentioned in the dineLA picks post, the optimal lineup I went with (grilled pork meatballs, crispy pork belly porcetto, cannolo siciliano) netted me a savings of $12, and can save a diner up to $14 if one chooses the rigatoni as the 2nd course – great deal.

I’ve heard very good things about the grilled pork meatballs, and very polarizing opinions about the porcetto, and for the most part, those sentiments were right on. The meatballs were juicy and flavorful, with a slight char that didn’t compromise their soft consistency. The bed of bitter greens, peas, sieved egg, and pecorino cheese was actually just as good as the meatballs, to my surprise – countered the meat well. I actually really hate peas for the most part, but they were just fine here.

The sandwich, which I was really looking forward to, was solid, but a slight letdown. It’s not so much porcetto/a (or pork belly) as it is pork belly chips, almost chicharron-esque – the meat was completely fried. One reason I love all things pork belly, particularly the crispy variations, is that the meat usually has both the crispy exterior from the skin AND the softness from the meat and fat. The thin slices in this variation were a bit one-note for me. The sandwich, however thin it was, was at least huge from a wideness perspective, and the bread was nicely grilled.

Of the 3 dishes I had for lunch, the cannolo was the one I’ve had from my previous visit. It was actually one of the highlights of that dinner, and it proved to be the best part of this lunch as well. I’m no expert on cannoli, but I really like eating them on the rare occasions I have them here in LA. Sotto’s version, in my opinion, is the best the city has to offer. Creamy ricotta filling, great pistachio flavor, right amount of sweetness from the touch of marmalade – just an amazing dessert. I asked for a fork to try to look civilized in eating it, but ended up just wolfing it down by hand.

This was a great meal by dineLA standards, in that you save a significant amount compared to ordering the same items off the regular menu, and portions and service weren’t compromised by the promotions period. By the time I left the restaurant, it was probably half-full. Most of the diners actually made reservations, but that doesn’t seem to be necessary at lunchtime. While the sandwich wasn’t as I hoped, the other 2 dishes were very good, and I still recommend the dineLA lunch menu – just order the pizza or rigatoni instead. Also, lunch only Wed-Fri.

Grilled Pork Meatballs

grilled pork meatballs – snap peas, pecorino, sieved egg, bitter greens

Crispy Pork Belly Porcetto

crispy pork belly porcetto – pickled vegetable giardiniera

Cannolo Siciliano

cannolo siciliano – ricotta, orange marmalade, pistachios, chocolate

Cuisine City/Neighborhood Price Grade
Italian West Los Angeles $$$ B

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