Sunday night I had dinner at Sora Lella, an Italian restaurant in west Soho. The original Sora Lella was opened in Rome in 1959. My dining companion and I were the only ones there when we arrived, which is a shame, because there is some great Italian cooking going on there.
The place is bright with white and yellow hues and a ceiling two stories high. It's a very comfortable place to dine. Before we even ordered, the chef sent us out two croquettes, which were delicious! We were also sent out a bowl of chickpeas and sliced pasta in a tomato sauce, which tasted very homey and comforting.
We started with Sora Lella's version of Caprese ($18), fresh mozzarella, tomato, and a basil pesto. The dish was beautiful to look at, and was like a work of art. This was one of the more unique versions of caprese I have had, the tomato seemed to be in a gelatin form, but tasted great. I really enjoyed the hint of basil. The mozzarella was extremely fresh and wonderful. The addition of the basil pesto was ingenius and really complemented the mozzarella and tomato perfectly.
Our next dish was the gnocchi di patate all’Amatriciana ($18), which was home-made potato gnocchi in a classic Roman sauce of smoked guanciale, tomatoes and Roman Pecorino cheese. This was one of the best gnocchi dishes I had ever eaten! The gnocchi were cooked perfectly, and had so much flavor packed into them. I loved the smokiness and saltiness of this dish; it was absolutely wonderful.
The next dish we tried was the veal cheeks braised in a sweet white wine sauce with peppers ($32). I had never seen veal cheeks on a menu, and was excited to try this dish. I am glad I did, for the meat was so tender that I did not need a knife to cut it. The lightness of the sauce, as well as the addition of the sweet peppers, was a great balance for the rich and decadent meat.
For dessert we had the chocolate “salami” roll with crunchy almonds, dry cookies and caramel sauce, served with chocolate sorbet ($10) as well as the Marsala wine and whipped egg yolk ice cream with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar ($12). Both desserts were fine, but nothing to write home about.
Sora Lella is a little Roman gem that sits next to the Hudson. The cooking here transports you to Italy, with its authentic and homey flavors. If you can't make it to Rome, take a cab or subway to Spring street; it's the next best thing, and cheaper than a plane ticket!
300 Spring Street (bet. Hudson and Greenwich)
New York, NY 10013