One of my major peeves is how dark restaurants are. It seems the average has gotten darker and darker in the last 10 years. They all claim it’s ambiance and while there is a little bit of validity to that, I’ll only accept that excuse up to a certain point. I understand that people don’t want to be under a spotlight and you don’t want it to look like a doctor’s office, but can there at least be a reasonable amount of light? My poor mom tries to use a candle to read the menu and then gives up, asking me to read the menu to her. You should see the look on her face…


For many places, I know that the reason is really because of the ugly paint chipped walls, the shabby furniture, and the lack of cleaning that should be going on. You are not fooling us. Admittedly, I’m more vocal about the lack of light now that I’m a blogger. I want to take pictures (without flash) and at 75% of restaurants (at least in NYC), I can’t. Enter, my friend Eddie, wielding the new Canon 7D, which goes up to an ISO of 6400. If you don’t know what that means, don’t worry. I’m not that much ahead of you. All you have to know now is that my camera, Canon Rebel Xti, can only go to ISO 1600 and in the darkness of Sorella 95 Allen Street, New York, NY 10002, with just one candle for light, there would be no picture at all, just plain black.


With his fresh new camera, Eddie was able to capture some nice shots. (For photographers, only the second picture was taken with EF 50 mm f/1.4 USM with a 12 mm tube extension, the rest was taken with 100mm f/2.8 macro lens.) Although, with just one candle, some pictures were still impossible.

We started with some thin, crunchy bread sticks, salty and addictive. We devoured them in minutes and received some more while we read the menu. It felt like a tapas restaurant, especially because it was incredibly dark, but the food is Italian. The plate sizes are somewhere in between starters and entrees, like a large appetizer or skimpy main course. We (3 people) ended up with six dishes, one side, three desserts, and three beverages, a bit more than we needed.

It didn’t take long for the food to arrive and it was spaced out pretty nicely. The crispy veal sweetbreads were cornmeal crusted and tender on the inside, no extra oiliness, and the quince bacon marmalade was a nice dip for it.


The Pate de Fegato is chicken liver mousse spread on a thick slice of duck fat English Muffin, topped with bacon pieces and a runny fried egg. It is as rich as it sounds and is worth every single heart clogging calorie, and then some. If you’re going to get fat (which cold weather inevitably does to me), this should be the reason, or at least part of it. Seriously, the fatty flavors of three different animals coating every crevice inside your mouth is a winner, and I had a nice medium white wine (sorry, forgot name) that cut it nicely.

Pate de Fegato

The Pulled Hen and Veal Tongue Salad felt like a fresh picnic salad but I didn’t taste any veal tongue and the celery really over-powered everything else. A few cubes of beet sweetened and brightened but overall, this one can be skipped.

Pulled Hen and Veal Tongue Salad

The Mini Gnocchi was creamy yet the pears lightened and offered a sweetness that complimented but kept you wondering. There was definitely something different about this dish, starchy and soothing, simple yet not.

mini gnocchi

The Oxtail Risotto was less exciting than we imagined, just a regular meaty brown sauce with rice.

oxtail risotto

The Tajarin, a thin pasta, with lamb ragu, black pepper ricotta, pistachios, and mint struck us all as a little odd. The flavors didn’t really work, the mint being strong for me and the pistachio bothering Lon. We also marveled at how it steamed but then only felt luke-warm on our tongue. Odd.


The Semolina Fritte (side) was really interesting. They managed to get it to form a thin, crisp shell that cracked open to reveal a hot oozing center, almost like a souffle. There was an intense orange flavor (possibly extract) that I couldn’t take and I was sad because I did love the texture. Lon and Eddie gobbled it up.

semolina Fritte

We each had our eye on a different dessert. I had been talking about the Fig and Hazelnut Tarte since the beginning when I accidentally opened to the dessert page first. The fruit and nut, with controlled sweetness, felt so natural and rustic, crumbly and hearty. It was topped with an amazing balsamic gelato, the perfect balance of sweet, tart, and creamy. None of us had ever had anything like it. To top it off, a touch of sugared rosemary added a little fall to it.

Fig and Hazelnut Tarte

I washed it down with a generously sized cappuccino (closer to latte), complete with nice latte art. (They serve Counter Culture Coffee. )


Eddie got the Candy Bar-like cake, some cross of snickers bar and gelati sundae. It was rich and indulgent, but not sugary sweet. Perfection. He also ordered an Italian Creamsicle soda. We were surprised by the creamy flavor because it was clear.

candy bar cake

Lon opted for a dessert designed to look like Bicerin, but this was a cold dessert. The espresso fudge and chocolate pudding were both deep, rich, and viscous. Each little spoonful could be savored and and held on the tongue.


With a few misses, I still left knowing that I’ll be back, because certain standouts really won me over. I must eat the Pate de Fegato again (before it is outlawed by all these new crazy health regulations), and then mostly, we want to go back for dessert. We rarely have such a memorable end and this one really warrants some more attention. I need to meet this pastry chef.

With a little over-ordering, it was a bit more than $50 per person, completely reasonable in NYC. But please, turn on some lights!

posted by jessica at 05:29 PM Filed under Italian, Restaurants. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.