Milky buffalo mozzarella arranged among strips of roasted pepper, white anchovies, and capers, the flavors linked by a piquant slick of extra virgin olive oil. Risotto Mantecato, a nontraditional combo of creamy, al dente rice streaked with caramelized onions, slashes of twelve-year-old balsamic vinegar, and wisps of Parmigiano-Reggiano. A haphazard “lasagnette,” its sheets of pasta set willy-nilly around the plate, bound by supple béchamel and rich, meaty Bolognese. Roasted fish, perhaps a Mediterranean branzino, filleted tableside by a sure-handed server and situated beside crackly potatoes and garlicky spinach.
The delight in Sotto Sotto stems from its consistency. I trust these dishes and many others to be cooked with the same moxie every single time I eat them. Owner Riccardo Ullio ensures his firstborn’s steadfastness. Fritti, his pizza restaurant next door, may pass through phases where the pie dough goes flabby, and he continues to gamble with ventures in Midtown (his latest is Escorpion Tequila Bar and Cantina), but Sotto Sotto never wavers. That holds true for the confident service and the welcoming space: This corner of Inman Park felt sketchy when Ullio set up shop in 1999, but the buzzing room and the honeyed lighting cloaked you in coziness. They still do. Noise dampeners installed in 2005 dulled the once-jarring din remarkably.
A couple of summery menu additions like pansotti—“potbellied” ravioli stuffed with chard and other greens and dressed in a pestolike walnut sauce—are worth sampling. But really, in an age when the locavore ethos dictates that menus swap out weekly, a bowl of risotto that feels like visiting an old friend is something to treasure.
Sotto Sotto's bar serves an outstanding Negroni—a trio of gin, Campari, and vermouth with a bittersweet pucker that calls to mind blood oranges. The wine program provides a grand tour of Italian varietals, though I'd love to also see some "orange wine" mavericks from the Friuli region like Gravner and Radikon.