When Riccardo Ullio opened Sotto Sotto in 1999, it redefined Italian cooking locally. Suddenly we knew that risotto could be cooked properly creamy yet al dente in a restaurant (it so rarely is) and that lasagna could be artfully subtle rather than a gut bomb. Salads with acidic pop and the enduring chocolate soup bookend meals, but the consistent, intense pastas reveal the kitchen's true soul. In winter, standout warmers include fresh pappardelle with braised duck ragu and tortelli di mele—apple- and sausage-filled ravioli that Ullio served when he was chef at Pasta da Pulcinella in the mid-1990s. Sotto Sotto's wine list always proves an education in Italian vino, and without fanfare, the bar concocts some of the most progressive cocktails in town.
Best of Atlamta 2013
Here's the key to a memorable meal: Share a generous spread of pastas and risottos, the splendor of Riccardo Ullio's flagship restaurant. Most of the dishes can be ordered in appetizer-sized half portions, all the better for sampling. In cool weather, chow through tortelli di mele with apple and sausage (a favorite from when Ullio cooked at Pasta Da Pulcinella in the nineties), the free-form lasagnette creamy from béchamel, pappardelle tossed in braised duck ragu, and risotto either with mushrooms or saffron and shrimp. Ask for a raisiny American from al the all-Italian wine list.