By MARYELLEN FILLO, email@example.com
The Hartford Courant
March 6, 2014
Imagine paper-thin handkerchief-shaped pasta, perfectly cooked al dente, firm but delicate bites bathed in a sweet tomato cream sauce flavored with fresh pesto and spiked with a dozen fresh shrimp.
Welcome to Sorella, the newest Italian spot in Hartford courtesy of well-known restaurateurs Billy Carbone and Dan Keller.
Carbone and Keller brought downtown Hartford the popular upscale dining spot DISH, as well as the more laid-back restaurant Dish 'n Dat in Canton.
And though the two could have sat back on the reputations of their successful twin dining ventures, they are finally parents to the kind of restaurant they have dreamed of owning.
"We have always known an Italian restaurant was something we wanted to do," says Carbone about the Main Street eatery that boasts a truly Italian menu, including authentic Neapolitan-style pizza made fresh in a specially imported brick oven. "We knew we wanted to do something that Hartford did not have when it came to food. We have always wanted to extend what we do in the kitchen and on the menu and this is it."
A hint of what the new restaurant has to offer begins as soon as you walk through the door of the place that once housed the short-lived club and restaurant Zula.
Center stage is the impressive and 900-degree Italian pizza oven where a pizza maker is busy turning out thin-crusted pies that range from the traditional, including the tomato and mozzarella Margherita to the "create your own" with topping choices including pancetta, stracciatella, meatballs, anchovies and artichokes. Specialty pies include the Diavola with spicy soppresata and hot cherry peppers; the Ham & Eggs with farm egg and Mystic Melville cheese; and the Iverno with butternut squash, pancetta and brussel sprouts.
And about that pizza dough.
"We make it with Italian Caputo flour," said Carbone about the dough recipe that boasts strictly authentic ingredients.
Carbone and Keller saw the potential for yet another one of their distinctive menus, and the offerings do not fail.
Sorella sets the mood in its lunch and dinner menus with such categories as "carne," "formaggio," "mare," "secondi" and "alti." There are cured meat and cheese selections, as well as the expected as well as both vegetable and seafood antipasti choices. Appetizers include veal and ricotta meatballs and veal sweet breads, while salads choices include the Quattro Colore with raddichio, endive, arugula and dried cherries; and the Roasted Pepper with charred eggplant and pine nuts.
Housemade pasta choices include orecchiette with pork sausage and broccoli rabe, fettucini carbonara with guanciale and reggiano parmigiano, and chianti papparadelle with braised veal osso buco ragu.
Then there are entrees such as veal marsala; chicken piccata; steak pizzaiola with wood-fired peppers; and zuppa di pesce, an Italian stew with market fish, clams, shrimp, calamari and more.
Desserts are Italian signature dishes including gelato sandwiches, tiramisu, ricotta pie and a deconstructed ice cream sundae with gelato, toasted almonds, and chocolate sauce topped with a jigger of hot espresso.
Pizzas begin at $10, appetizers at $5, entrees at $18 and desserts at $7.
But Sorella is bringing more than good food to Hartford.
The owners will also be presenting the city's first open rooftop dining and socializing lounge.
"We have the city approval we need and we are working on it now," said Carbone. "We expect to have it open when warm weather arrives."
Carbone admits there is a lot of running back and forth between Sorella and DISH, which is conveniently located directly across the street. But Sorella is in good hands with executive chef and former Peppercorn's chef, Joe Keane.
And as far as the two restaurants competing with each other?
"It's actually a nice way to cross-promote the two," said Carbone, noting the different menus, décor and tone. "The two offer two different dining experiences and something for everyone."
Sorella, 901 Main St., Hartford, is open Monday through Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m; and Sunday from 4 to 10 p.m. information: 860-244-9084 and sorellahartford.com
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