A brand new day for Sotto Sopra in the Keyes Art Mile precinct.
Their opening in 2020 promised to be the most exciting foodie adventure in Jozi but it was rapidly eclipsed by the COVID pandemic.
I was invited for an exclusive preview of their revised (and revitalized!) menu, and I’m pleased to reconfirm my initial opinion about them. Sotto Sopra was never just going to become the next trendy restaurant in town- they’re here to make a statement and they’re going to go the distance.
Despite the setbacks caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Sotto Sopra restaurant, in Rosebank, Johannesburg, remains open to foodies and lovers of the finest Italian dining.
Sotto Sopra boasts a gorgeous artistic space filled with an impressive collection of contemporary art for a luxurious dining experience. The establishment is designed over two levels and offers a splendid mix of superb views over Johannesburg’s suburbs, an open and relaxing dining area, and traditional Italian cuisine – creating the perfect trattoria experience for quick meetings, sundowners, or lunch on the go.
“We’ve worked hard to keep our doors open and are determined to maintain a standard of excellence that gives our customers a wholesome experience,” says Jared Melamed, Acting Partner and General Manager at Sotto Sopra. “Guests can enjoy traditional Italian cuisine, which has influenced food culture around the world, in a casual-luxe setting that extends the Italian culture to South Africans.”
Sotto Sopra boasts a concise menu but if you’re conflicted for choice, order a selection of dishes to share tapas-style.
You could make a meal out of the stuzzichini (bar snacks). The Caprese Skewers are too elegant to be called a bar snack but they are on the menu if you’re looking for something light. Creamy bocconcini balls skewered with cocktail tomatoes, basil and basil pesto for a flavoursome bite. I loved the addition of lettuce and fresh Basil to balance the richness of the cheese and pesto.
If your diet is less virtuous, step into the dark side with the Zuchine Fritte. The courgettes have been battered and spiced before being deep-fried and served with a roasted garlic emulsion. They are going to break your diet but totally worth it!
The restrained elegance of the Fritto Misto di Mare is not for the fainthearted but it was love at first sight for me. It’s a delicate medley of crispy calamari, squid heads, kingklip, prawns, and whitebait fried to perfection before being plated like precious jewels from the sea. The beetroot dust is a visual and textural component while adding a sweet earthiness to the dish. Amplifying the flavours is a grilled lemon to be squeezed over the dish. The dish has a multi-dimensional flavour profile while respecting the natural flavours of the ingredients.
The dish included an aioli which I thought added unnecessary richness to a dish that was already perfect. Great design dictates that one removes the unnecessary – and this dish is already perfect. JoziStylers will be pleased to know that in future the aioli will be served on the side for your discretion.
Sotto Sopra’s traditional Italian menu includes Roman-style (thin) pizza. You can choose from classic pizzas, banting pizzas, gluten-free pizzas, vegetarian pizzas, and gourmet pizzas. Undecided? They also do half and half pizzas. We opted for the hedonistic wild truffle mushroom pizza with garlic chives & smoked provolone and the surprisingly spicy Prawn Paradiso with peri peri and coriander. If you’re looking for an authentic Italian pizza you’re going to have to visit Sotto Sopra. Considering their commitment to authentic Italian cuisine, you probably shouldn’t ask for a pizza with pineapple!
One dish that I never order in restaurants is lasagne because I’ve never had one as good my own. Lasagne is an expensive and time-consuming dish to make where one can’t afford to cut corners unless you want an inferior end result. My companion was adamant about ordering the lasagne so I had to steal a taste just to say that mine was better. Unfortunately, not!
The lasagne at Sotto Sopra tastes better than homemade. It’s rich, cheesy, meaty goodness packed with flavour. I don’t even care how much it costs because it’s great value at any price. I finished half of my companion’s lasagne without shame. It’s really that good. I’d even consider ordering some to keep on hand in the freezer. I also love that it’s served with fresh salad to balance the richness – and assuage my guilt!
Sotto Sopra doesn’t take any shortcuts with their meat. Their Filetto di Manzo is flambéed and served with Rosemary fondant potatoes, honey-glazed carrots, charred shallots, and a parsnip puree. The pièce de résistance is obviously the fillet but the brandy emulsion is a close contender.
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I am obsessed with this panna cotta. It’s creamy and dreamy and jiggles like Marilyn Monroe. It’s infused with vanilla and dusted with gold honeycomb and white chocolate. It flirts with a kiss but ends in seduction. This is an example of a chef who came to work with his thinking cap on to create a panna cotta that defies conventional thinking. It’s ultra-creamy without being. I challenge you to find a better panna cotta in the universe.
The Valrhona Chocolate Fondant is semi baked to yield the most decadent chocolate lava that you have ever seen. It is so unashamedly indulgent that it may make you blush. Just to remind you how dark it is, it is served with vanilla bean ice cream and chocolate soil. Polite in company but down to party- and definitely not made for sharing!
Sotto Sopra’s setting includes a street-facing counter resembling a true modern Milano style, complemented by a bold, colourful interior with quirky furniture pieces and modern impressionist art. The modern Italian restaurant provides the perfect balance of great food, uber chic decorations, and cosy seating behind glass doors that look out onto the buzzing city – a design that blends in beautifully with the Keyes Art Mile Precinct.
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Lockdowns may have been an adversary, but Sotto Sopra’s new menu is a declaration of war!
Foodies, mask up. We’re going Sotto Sopra-style!
Win A Meal for 2 at Sotto Sopra (Worth R1,200)!
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Entries close on Sunday, 25 April 2021 at 2PM.
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The winners will be announced on JoziStyle.joburg and informed by email.