Live Jazz, Sultry Dining at Newly Opened Sotto
On March 3, Ari Gejdenson of Mindful Restaurant Group unveiled his newest venture: Sotto on 14th Street NW. The space is home to a harmonious blend of live jazz, wine, craft cocktails and American cuisine with a smoky finish. Sotto, ‘below’ in Italian, is appropriately located underneath Ghibellina, another of Gejdenson’s popular dining destinations.
The jazz and blues cultural center HR-57 was the former tenant of the building, before moving to H Street four years ago. As a tribute to the building’s past, Sotto has live jazz and blues Tuesday through Saturday, featuring a constant rotation of local artists and aspiring talent.
The restaurant’s ambiance is as sleek and sexy as the jazzy sounds that fill it. Sotto’s dimly lit space, designed by Gronning Architects, incorporates lots of exposed brick, with attractive wood and steel accents for an overall warm, sultry effect. Patrons waiting for a table or simply looking to drink and snack on appetizers can sit at the long wooden bar, flanked by rustic steel barstools.
Sotto’s bar manager Daniel Barnes created his cocktail list based on classics from the 1950s and earlier; think of a “Trolley Car” with spiced rum, blood orange and angostura or an “Ed Ellington” with scotch, Lillet Rose, cranberry and orange. His take on these cocktails goes back to D.C.’s jazz culture, when jazz clubs were really big up and down U Street. “We’re trying to continue that by having jazz here,” said Michael Rosato, Sotto’s general manager.
Executive chef Keith Cabot’s menu reflects regional American cuisine with an emphasis on smoked meats. The chef’s selection of housemade sausages was inspired by Gejdenson’s trip to Austin. Other highlights include the Brussels sprout salad with an herb cream dressing and pomegranates, pork ribs, beef brisket and a delicious half-chicken with a delightfully crisp skin and chili sauce. Sotto also has a sweet selection of desserts, like poached apple with caramel ice cream or banana bread with dulce de leche and chocolate.
Diners can enjoy all of this in one of the restaurant’s cozy booths or at long wooden tables. At the end of the restaurant, a stunning glass wine cellar is the backdrop to the night’s local talent.
Sotto is open Tuesday through Saturday for dinner, starting at 6 p.m.