Sotto Sotto

Photograph by Alex Martinez

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.

313 North Highland Avenue, 404-523-6678,