At Sotto, Chefs Zach and Steve deliver an honest, market-driven menu of regionally-inspired Southern Italian dishes, including fresh housemade pastas and Neapolitan pizza cooked in an artisan wood burning oven. This wood burning oven was built onsite by Neapolitan craftsmen with traditional techniques that have been passed on from generation to generation and is the first of its kind in the Los Angeles area. Our food is complemented by a fresh, seasonally relevant cocktail program with a strong background in the classics and the utilization of lesser known Italian liqueurs. We also offer an eclectic list of boutique wines from both Italy and California.
Neapolitan pizza as we know now orginated in Naples in the late 19th century, when a local pizzaiolo served Italian Queen Margherita, a pie in the colors of Italy’s flag: green basil, red tomato, white mozzarella. Since then, pizza has undergone an infinite number of makeovers, rarely, if ever, for the better. At Sotto, we prepare Neapolitan pizza the old fashioned way, as it would have been done centuries ago. The dough is composed of four ingredients: water, flour, salt, and yeast, the last in the form of a biga, or natural starter. We use no commercial yeast–fresh or dried–anywhere in the kitchen. After a long and slow fermentation process, our pizzas are baked in an eight-ton Neapolitan oven, burning exclusively White Oak to reach and maintain temperatures in excess of 900 degrees F. At such high temperatures, liquid water in the dough vaporizes instantly, expanding within tiny bubbles already formed by the yeast -to create a puffed and delicate cornicione, the raised outer crust typical of this style. Pizzas cook in 45 to 60 seconds, yielding a final product that is soft and supple, not dried out and crunchy as is often the case with other styles of pizza. Blistered but pliable, chewy yet delicate, a perfectly cooked Neapolitan pizza unites these seemingly opposite qualities under a tradition that is equally paradoxical: humble yet exalted.