New York City: Sora Lella

Lord knows there are plenty of Italian restaurants in New York; not many of them, however, are filled primarily with Italians. But when I visited Sora Lella on Spring Street recently, the room was packed with expats and visitors hungry for a taste of the classic Roman cuisine that has made the original outpost (by the same name) in Rome a celebrity-haunted hot spot for 50 years. Not all of the dishes we had were spectacular—a few of the pastas seemed strangely heavy, the famed pacherri sauce oddly bland—but most were supremely satisfying in that Roman way. Polpettine alla nonna (“grandma style” meatballs) were excellent, with nice body, just the right amount of chewiness, and deep, meaty flavor; the roasted baby lamb was very tender and just “lamb-y” enough; and, surprisingly, the one untraditional dish on the menu—a deconstructed insalata caprese consisting of mozzarella panna cotta with tomato sorbet and basil—was magnificent. Mostly, though, it was just good to be in the warm, yellow-walled room listening to the animated chatter in Italian, watching the waiters argue with each other for the privilege of taking our order, and pretending to be in Rome.

Sora Lella 300 Spring St., New York City (212-366-4749)



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