Tucked away on a quiet street in the West Village, Sotto 13 (140 W. 13th, 212-647-1001) is a hidden gem. Inside, the layout is surprisingly contemporary and spacious--with abstract art-splashed walls and industrial and architectural flourishes.
A skylight is the focal point of the space and serves as a visual bridge between the restaurant's modern aesthetic and classic cuisine (with a few twists). Because of it's depth and slick details, Sotto 13 feels like a restaurant you'd find in smaller city like D.C. or Philly, but it might be just what this sleepy stretch of West 13th Street needs to put it on the city's culinary map.
The menu is tapas-style (dubbed as "social Italian"), and although we usually associate tapas with Spanish cuisine, manager Giuseppe Montalto explains that Italians also love to languish over long meals, sampling a taste of this and a taste of that. During our early evening meal one Friday, we did just that.
Highlights from our tasting of the fall menu included: roasted beets with goat cheese and caramelized onions and mustard vinaigrette; butternut squash cannelloni with a cream sauce and brown butter sage that will almost make you forget its not macaroni and cheese; garlic shrimp; and a mushroom pizza fired in the eatery's wood-burning oven. The tiramisu desert pizza is also a delightful, yet filling way to cap the meal.
If you're looking for a new dining hot spot, Sotto 13 is ideal for a ladies night out or an after-work cocktail or glass of wine. The later you go, however, the more lively the after-work crowd gets. So go early if you want an intimate dinner.