By Christianna Reinhardt

Sotto is indeed sotto (“under”) a jazzy red building on Pico (the old Test Kitchen space), but the shy street-front façade and understated dining room don’t quite prepare you for the hot scene inside, not to mention the sun-concentrated flavors of Italy’s southern regions that fill the large-but-cohesive menu. Sardines, mackerel and squid ink, all muscular flavors from the sea, combine with landlocked ingredients such as preserved lemons, pork terrine and lardo in dishes that encourage family-style sharing, with plates divided into small, medium and large. There are separate sections on the menu for pasta and the signature wood-fired pizzas of young co-chef Zach Pollack (shown here). (Co-chef Steve Samson shares the kitchen limelight and is also a co-owner.) Pork meatballs are matched with delicate flavors of strong bitter greens bronzed by the grill. This place might be sotto but never sotto voce.

sweet seats

Sit along the back wall to be part of the scene or grab seats at the bar to watch the kitchen in action—and to chat with some of the friendliest mixologists in the city.


lunch: Wed–Fri noon–2:30 PM
dinner: Sun–Thu 5:30 PM–9:30 PM; Fri–Sat 5:30 PM–10:30 PM

price range

$9 (pizza Marinara) to $33 (fennel-crusted pork chop)