Cincinnati has another star in the downtown restaurant firmament.
"Sotto Restaurant" opened 2 weeks ago in the space occupied by "La Normandie" at 116 E.6th St.. Phone (513) 977-6886. We went last night, with another couple and had a wonderful evening.
The ambiance remains one of scrubbed wooden tables, brick, cement and wood walls and subdued lighting. The noise level is a bit high in the main dining area ( out came the hearing aids) but is considerably reduced as one sits further from the bar and open kitchen. Our table was excellent and enjoy by our ourselves and our young, but over 50 companions. Reservations, in my opinion, are a necessity and there is also an elevator to assits those who choose not, or can't, navigate the steps from street level.
I did not "cop" a menu, but from memory, the four sections seemed to be Bruschetta's, Antipasto and Salads, Pasta's and Main Courses. Without total recall here is what the four of us ate, shared and tasted:
Mozzarella, doused in olive oil, with slivers of fried onions and served with grilled Italian bread.
Arugiua Salad with oil and balsamic vinegar
Baby Kale Caesar Salad, croutons and strips of Parmesan
Polenta topped with a fried egg - smooth, creamy and outstanding
Spaghetti with olive oil, garlic and red pepper flakes - spicy but truly basic Italian
Linguine Carbonara - house made bacon and a rich preparation
Small Ravioli ( different name on the menu) stuffed with braised short ribs
Penne in a spicy tomato based sauce
(All Pasta dishes are a manageable size, served hot, and of course, as a separate course).
And a wonderful piece of grilled Cod, not an easy fish to cook, and served flaky and moist.
For dessert we split an order of Ricotta Doughnuts with three sauces, Pistachio, Berry and light Carmel (yum)
We also managed to finish 2 bottles of red win, one a Volpolicella and the other a "super Tuscan"
The service was most satisfatory and the "Hospitality", which goes beyond service, was obvious from all of the staff; from the owner to the floor Managers, servers and food runners. In summary a blissful, most satisfying evening.