Bill Boggs Corner Table: Sotto Sopra, a Northern Italian Classic in The Hamptons
The Hamptons pop with celebrities, well-toned visitors, moguls, models, society matriarchs, and some of America’s most wealthy people, ensconced in mansions on compounds behind century old privets. What do all these fun-loving folks have in common? They love to go out to eat! In high-priced, low-profile Amagansett, you can spot Sir Paul McCartney searching the racks in the local vinyl store, Gwynneth Paltrow browsing for antiques nearby, and across the street Alec Baldwin and his family out for a stroll. And when it's dinner time, where do they frequently find themselves? Sotto Sopra! Orchestrating you and this high-powered clientele is managing partner Rosa Evangelista, who truly wants to make sure you're as comfortable and satisfied as possible at your table.
At first glance, the modest exterior, with its open front, red awning and bar with a TV seems to suggest a down-scale spot, but enter the restaurant and you'll find an elegant open space designed with floor to ceiling windows that allow light to fill the room. If you choose to sit in the garden out back, you'll have fresh air and starry skies.
The first thing I want to point out is Executive Chef Fermin Jimenez's deft touch with vegetable dishes. Is it a coincidence that two of the noted regular guests at this hot spot are vegetarian Sir Paul McCartney and vegan Bill Clinton, who was there three times one recent week? They surely must enjoy dishes such as the grilled asparagus with extra virgin olive oil, pan roasted sweet corn off the cob, and Brussels sprouts roasted with fresh rosemary.
But don't get the idea that we're recommending a restaurant filled with kale, sprouts, and tree-huggers who'd run from a meat dish, because the classic grill features veal porterhouse, filet mignon, sirloin, and lamb chops. And, there's a traditional wood-burning oven which produces five different pizza selections, the most savory of which is the Picante Pizza. It is layered with pepperoni and spicy sausage over ricotta cheese. The Funghi Pizza, which I found delightful, is topped with sautéed mushrooms, spinach, and robolina.
Let's delve a little deeper into a restaurant that has survived and thrived in the very competitive Hamptons dining scene over the years. The second time I dined there, I had a stupendous appetizer, which was a shrimp, lobster, and crab cocktail dish. The portion was so substantial that I had to force myself (but of course, I did) to order an entrée, which was the grilled pork chop with sage, mustard mashed potatoes, and zesty poached raisins. It was superb, cooked perfectly.
Fish selections include the Italian classic zuppa di pesce: fish, lobster, shrimp, clams, mussels, tomato sauce, and basil aioli. My personal favorite, because of the moistness achieved in the cooking process, is the fluke oreganatta - wood oven-roasted fluke, sautéed kale, and caramelized shallot.
Sotto Sopra has an extensive wine list that features the hit East End wine of the season, the Wolffer Estate Rose, with a delightful peach and pear aroma. By the way, Wolffer Estate, which is open for tastings, is just two towns west on Route 27 in Sagaponack and produces some splendid wines.
End your meal with my recommendation for dessert, gelato sliders: miniature ice cream sandwiches of chocolate, vanilla and hazelnut. You will not be disappointed!