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first visit to Sorellina

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first visit to Sorellina

MC Slim JB | Feb 6, 2006 08:58 AM

Nice looking space: a harder-edged, more modern take on the Mistral all-white look, with black highlights and stark artwork, softened only by ecru drapes. Not much to remind you of the old Salamander space: one big room, bar at the pointy end barely separated from the dining room by a partition. Hard-edged surfaces everywhere make for a lot noise. Very well-made cocktails at the bar.

This won't be a cheap meal: apps average in the mid to high teens, entrees around $40, again rather Mistral-like. Yet another wine list with a small clutch of bottles under $60, with a big gap, then most wines $90 and up: ouch!

A good start with a skillet of tripe in little chewy pieces in a smokey tomato sauce; a gooey fonduta of excellent Italian cheese. Mid-course of macheronchelli is the highlight: long tubes of homemade pasta (wonderful al dente chew), lightly and simply sauced, with a couple of excellent Wagyu meatballs. Veal milanese is a fine version of this dish, with slightly thick, herb-infused crust, delicious.

Crab-filled arancini are a major disappointment, with mushy risotto, uncrusty coating, and crab flavor overpowered by the sauce. A contorno of green beans with a mint pesto is also a bust: drowning in butter (butter?!), with no discernable mint flavor.

Service is excellent, friendly, and quite smooth, a real asset. Skipping dessert, and with a modest Italian red, dinner comes to $200 inclusive.

A final note which has little to do with the chow, but this place attracted one of the oddest and scariest crowds in my memory. A line of creepy, schlubbily-dressed guys at the entrance end of the bar, ogling every woman that comes in. The kind of attractive and dressed-to-impress young women we are used to seeing in the bar at Mistral, nothing odd there. But the worst: a dining room mostly filled with a wealthy crowd averaging about 60 years old (maybe residents of the building the restaurant is housed in?) that is loud, vulgar, perfume/cologne-stinky, and made frightening by tons of obvious plastic surgery. A Twilight Zone kind of ambience, and the reason we didn't stick around for dessert.

So, a kind of hit-or-miss experience, not terrible for the first week of being open. The good dishes impressed me more than those at Mistral, but it likewise is a very pricey evening for the level of food being served. I hope I never get seated in the middle of another crowd like that, though, ever.

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