I have this weird love hate relationship with the Lower East Side. I Hate, with a capital H, that I can never get a cab anywhere in the Lower East Side. Seriously, I think what Paula Cole really meant was “where have all the cabbies gone”? But I do LOVE the neighborhood, and in particular, the neighborhood gems. And one such neighborhood gem that I cannot get enough of is Sorella, because Sorella is so really good.
Sorella is a modest Italian restaurant on Allen Street that serves small plates. This rustic yet chic restaurant is dimly lit for a touch of romance. It has this homey feeling that makes you feel comfortable right away. The same can be said of the service. With a few key recommendations from the waitress, we knew we were awaiting a great meal.
Similar to tapas, small plates are meant to share. This is my favorite way to eat because you get to try so many things, and so many of Sorella’s things are exceptional. Don’t get it twisted, Sorella may serve small dishes, but they pack a big punch.
We started with a few meats and cheeses, because the joys of salty meat and creamy cheese are hard to pass up. The prosciutto was delicate and mild while to soppressata was dense and salty. Paired with creamy cheeses, honey and hazelnuts, this was the perfect way to start our meal.
I don’t know about you, but I have a very difficult time passing up Brussels sprouts. Sure, I maybe a parent’s dream come true, but I’m really just a humble vegetable eater. Can you just picture the devious smile across my face? Well, you should try cause it’s awesome. Just like the Shaved Brussels sprout salad I had at Sorella. This salad was the perfect balance of flavors. The mild Brussels sprouts were the perfect base for the crunchy croutons, salty capers, spicy red pepper flakes, sweet onions and creamy cheese. Piled high, this salad was a big mountain of excellence.
After the Brussels Sprout salad, we ordered the Beef Carne Cruda. But this was not your average Beef Cruda because this beef was imported from the Hearst Ranch in California. That’s right, Hearst, as in Hearst Corporation. The Owner and Chef of Sorella, Emma Hearst, imports her beef from her family’s cattle ranch in California. Seriously cool right? As if that isn’t cool enough, rumors are floating around about her opening a steakhouse in New York using the beef from her family’s cattle ranch too. While these are just rumors right now, I’m still crossing my Bite-Sized fingers that this becomes a reality one day soon. One more thing, Emma Hearst made the list of “30 Under 30” by Zagat, and no one can argue that this 24 year old is seriously deserving of such exciting recognition!
Okay, back to the beef. The bright red, supple meat is garnished with simple fried onions and accompanied by side salad of shaved celery and radish. So simple, yet so good.
I had never heard of Pici pasta (pronounced peachy), but after a solid recommendation from the waitress, I knew I wanted to try it. Plus, how do you really resist a pasta called Pici? The thick, doughy noodles swim in a bowl of hearty pork ragu, ricotta and pepperoncini. This is an unusual dish that I would make my usual meal.
Agnolotti are ravioli, and these ravioli were Bite-Sized. No truly, they were tiny, but seriously divine. The agnolotti were soft and pillowy. Stuffed with beef short ribs and drizzled with sage butter and parmesan cheese, these baby ravioli were robust bites of comfort.
A side of broccoli was a must, especially after we found out it was fried and covered in a spicy aioli. Reminiscent of Japanese style broccoli tempera, these bites were unexpected for an Italian restaurant. It was like a surprise party for my tastebuds.
A trip to Sorella wouldn’t be complete with dessert, because dinner isn’t really done until you have dessert. But especially because they have a gelateria next door called Stellina. We ordered 3 scoops of gelato, and each was better than the last. Seriously, this was THE best gelato I have ever had in the United States.
We also ordered cheesecake. I know, I was surprised we weren’t too full also. But, we weren’t so cheesecake we ate. The light and airy cheesecake was shaped like a pyramid and covered in a delicate layer of smooth chocolate.
If your mouth isn’t watering, I think you might be sick. So, please make sure to call the doctor.
95 Allen Street
New York, NY