DTLA: Soleto Now Open
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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).
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.
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).
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.
We went crazy for the grilled oyster mushrooms with the grana padano cheese and white truffle lemon vinaigrette.
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.
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.
Or you could go with a classic Caesar and add either roasted chicken, fried calamari or sauteed garlic shrimp.
There’s also a grilled vegetable salad which again, you could add the chicken, shrimp or calamari. We had it with the fried calamari.
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.
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.
I have to say though my favorite of the pizzas was the rich spicy smoked speck with Fresno and Anaheim chiles and onion.
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.
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.
One of the best pastas is the simple angel hair alla checca. Soleto nails it with both roasted and fresh tomatoes.
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.
The pumpkin ravioli was served with beech mushrooms. I loved the hazelnut and sage sauce.
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.
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.
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.
The Leaning Tamarindo (Bulleit rye, tamarind, orange bitters) was much needed after all that food. Bitters definitely help digest such a rich meal.
I don’t have much of a sweet tooth but I enjoyed the strawberry shortcake with the ripe strawberries.
Admittedly though, I do like chocolate and the budino was very good.
And of course we had to have tiramisu which was very nicely done.
Now where is that amaro?
© The Minty 2012