DTLA: Soleto Now Open

Godfather

Recently I was invited to check out the newly opened Italian restaurant Soleto in Downtown Los Angeles. In the former Zucca space, they have retained the pizza oven but done away with the stuffy decor.

housemade brandied cherries

I ordered the Godfather to start. I liked the sound of the Johnny Walker black, amaretto, fresh ginger syrup and apricot. It was supposed to come with a brandied cherry that is housemade and also soaked in wine. When they realized my drink didn’t sport the garnish, they brought over a plate of them for us to try. I would recommend letting it hang out in your drink to get the full effect before snacking on the cherries.

sauteed calamari

 

Soleto’s happy hour is very impressive with appetizers ranging from $3-8. There’s also selected cocktails, beer and wine for $3-6. Chef Sasha Lyon from Delphine is now juggling both kitchens for Soleto and Delphine. He explained they sourced for the freshest food and made many of the house sauces. The sauteed calamari was in response to serving more than the usual fried stuff for bar food. I really appreciated it as I loved the sauteed calamari.

charred cauliflower

Another great and simple happy hour bite was the charred cauliflower. The vegetable is simply seasoned and popped into the pizza oven for a quick char.

 

Fontina fonduta

 

We were also treated to the Fontina fonduta which was very fun. I could imagine being at the bar and eating veggies and cheese. This isn’t bar food from the 1980s!

Gondola

The Gondola with Hennessy cognac, blood orange kumquat-cello and  lemon juice was very interesting with the housemade blood orange kumquat-cello. Soleto makes a variety of ‘cellos (think limoncello).

shrimp oreganato

One of my favorite dishes at Delphine was Chef Sasha’s shrimp salad. I was delighted a similar shrimp, the shrimp oreganato was on the bar menu.

Bellini Toscana

The Bellini Toscana is a fresh grilled peach bellini with basil and Prosecco. It would be exciting to begin a meal with this fizzy drink. Quite a few ladies proclaimed this to be their favorite along with the When in Rome (Grey Goose citron, raspberries, blackberries, jalepeno and lemon).

meatballs marinara al forno

 

We moved onto the regular menu and started with the appetizers (yes, more appetizers!). We got the meatballs marinara which unlike most meatballs had a nice crust. The pork mixture Chef Sasha uses appears in the form of the meatballs and sausage in a few of the pizza and pasta dishes.

grilled oyster mushrooms

 

We went crazy for the grilled oyster mushrooms with the grana padano cheese and white truffle lemon vinaigrette.

Smoked Blossom

I was attacted to the Smoked Blossom right away with its grilled orange slice garnish. It is made with Right gin, Lillet blanc and grilled orange vanilla syrup. It’s not too sweet. I might drink this though with more of the dessert courses next time.

chopt’ salad

 

It wouldn’t be a good Downtown lunch spot if there was a choice of several salads. The Chopt’ (chopped) salad had a multitude of ingredients but what stood out to me was the great dressing.

Caesar salad

Or you could go with a classic Caesar and add either roasted chicken, fried calamari or sauteed garlic shrimp.

Soleto grilled vegetable salad with fried calamari

 

There’s also a grilled vegetable salad which again, you could add the chicken, shrimp or calamari. We had it with the fried calamari.

Il Solo Messicano

When I saw the Il Solo Messicano, I asked if it was their version of a Paloma. I was right. The Cazadores tequila is paired with lime, agave, Campari, grapefruit and Sambuca Agrumi. It was way too easy to drink and I would recommend having this earlier in the meal as something to open up your appetite.

skinny pie

 

One day Chef Sasha was experimenting with the pizza before Soleto opened. He invited the security guard and his girlfriend in who happened to be walking by. She proclaimed the pizza was so good, it was a skinny pie. And that is the name of the simple pizza with roasted tomato, ricotta and pesto.

Spicy smoked speck pizza

 

I have to say though my favorite of the pizzas was the rich spicy smoked speck with Fresno and Anaheim chiles and onion.

potato and bacon pie

Although most of the table really fell in love with what would be a “breakfast” pizza- with potato and bacon. Add a fried egg and you’re all set.

Milano Mule

I had been saving some of Soleto’s version of the classic cocktails for last. I got the Milano Mule (Montenegro amaro, ginger, lime and ginger beer) and I really liked it. I generally love amari but Montenegro was the one I didn’t care for so much. Soleto made me a believer.

angel hair alla checca

 

One of the best pastas is the simple angel hair alla checca. Soleto nails it with both roasted and fresh tomatoes.

rigatoni ragu

As mentioned, the pork sausage made its way to both the rigatoni and the orecchiette diavolo. The seasoning is just different. I like it a bit spicy so I favored the orecchitte more.

pumpkin ravioli

 

The pumpkin ravioli was served with beech mushrooms. I loved the hazelnut and sage sauce.

orecchiette diavolo

Soleto Negroni

One of my favorite cocktails is the Negroni. I was curious about Soleto’s version with Oxley gin, Carpano Antica sweet vermouth, Campari and burnt orange syrup. That’s a rather bold move as some people don’t like Campari for the bitterness. To add a burnt orange flavor? Like a boss!  I appreciated this cocktail very much.

Branzino Milanese

 

Some of us wanted to tap out but I was determined to try most of the menu. The challenge was set and we happily devoured the branzino Milanese. Okay, so I devoured it for lunch the next day and it was still great.

balsamic marinated skirt steak

 

Next came the steak. It was a little bit salty for me but with a handful of fries (and I was starting to think red wine), this would be a simple dish for a business dinner.

Leaning Tamarindo

The Leaning Tamarindo (Bulleit rye, tamarind, orange bitters) was much needed after all that food. Bitters definitely help digest such a rich meal.

strawberry shortcake

I don’t have much of a sweet tooth but I enjoyed the strawberry shortcake with the ripe strawberries.

budino

 

Admittedly though, I do like chocolate and the budino was very good.

tiramisu

 

And of course we had to have tiramisu which was very nicely done.

Now where is that amaro?

Soleto Trattoria and Pizza Bar

801 S Figueroa St., Los Angeles, CA 90017 — (213) 622-3255

© The Minty 2012