Nestled underneath Picca on Pico Boulevard you will find some of the best Italian food in the city, an exciting and affordable geeky Italian wine list (curated by Dobianchi’s Jeremy Parzen), and a whole crew of truly dedicated wine and food professionals. Sotto Restaurant is a warm and inviting- a secret hideaway for foodies and wine geeks alike.  Last night’s dinner started with a glass of bubbly by Bruno Deconciliis– a Campanian winemaker so excited by American jazz music, he named his sparkler with a palindrome for the word “Miles” (as in Davis).  The Selim is a bright, effervescent bubbling broth of acidity and citrus with a clean finish that begs for food.  My mouth is watering just writing this.

A Revelation of Braised Octopus, Chickpeas and Chard

The food at Sotto is truly lovely- uncompromising and home-cooked in a way that’s difficult to duplicate without a kitchen full of grandmothers.  It’s clear that Chefs Zach and Steve care immensely about each ingredient and every mouthful.  Chef Zach even told us he was a little unhappy with the pizza dough that evening- although we would never have known- it was spectacular!  This kind of humility and true perfectionism is so unexpected, and so rare.

Another ecstatic discovery was Dr. Parzen’s Fatalone Primitivo Riserva from 2005… really intriguing, punchy acidity and a gorgeous plummy, red-earth nose.  An amazing discovery and literally the only restaurant I have seen serving this wine– especially from an older vintage.

Another standout for this restaurant is the fennel-crusted pork chop.  Simply prepared, seasoned with a house-made spice mixture and then crusted in fennel seeds it is then grilled over a wood-burning fire.  This is truly fine piece of meat- the success of which Chef Steve attributes completely to the quality of Devil’s Gulch Ranch meats.  Again with the honesty and humility- Chefs- please don’t underestimate yourselves!

Sotto’s fennel-crusted pork over grilled green beans and roasted root vegetables.

For the inside scoop on Sotto and it’s resident food and wine curators, check out their blog: