Date Night at Sotto Sopra (15 of Baltimore’s 50 Best)

sotto-sopra-restaurant-59If you are ever looking for a nice place in Baltimore for a date night, look no further than Sotto Sopra.  After discovering the restaurant in the Baltimore Magazine’s 50 Best Restaurants article, I have wanted to visit ever since and write a review.  Luckily, my date was interested in the menu and made us a reservation.  Let date night begin!

Sotto Sopra is a Contemporary Italian restaurant that has one main dining room that is dimly lit and a beautiful mural on one of the walls.  The restaurant is well decorated with beautiful gold crown molding and trim, and further in the back of the restaurant is the bar and a few additional table.  To make this place even more romantic, they also have Live Opera Night throughout the year that includes a five course meal for $58.  They are usually sold out and the menu always looks amazing. Sotto Sopra is located at 405 N. Charles Street, Baltimore, MD 21201.  The restaurant is just one block north Route 40 and about 7 minutes from the inner harbor, give or take the traffic lights. I visited on a rainy March day but was happy that they had valet available outside of the restaurant for $8 that was just steps away from the restaurant’s entrance. The valet service was friendly and oddly enough, the owner of the restaurant was outside greeting customers.  He shook my hand and after a few jokes, welcomed us into the restaurant.

The entrance of the restaurant is a bit odd because you enter behind the host table and then have to walk around to stand in front of them.  It is a bit of a weird moment trying to figure it all out but they appear to greet you and help you wherever you stand. The restaurant was not packed but we also had a reservation so we were immediately seated at our table.  Within just a few minutes, our waiter was there to greet us and request our drink orders. Of course, you know me too well, I went with a large bottle of sparkling water with lime. My date decided to join me but later order his own soft drink.  They started with an amazing bread selection of a soft bread and crispy breadsticks with a delicious blend of olive oil, herbs, and balsamic vinegar for dipping.

I had originally planned to order the Cozze Saltate Al Curry E Latte Di Cocco ($14) to start which translates to Price Edward Mussels in a broth of Indian curry, coconut milk, and leeks. However, once we were told the specials, I was won over by the Lobster Bisque ($9) with shrimp.  However, my date being an even bigger foodie and I am ordered me both and we enjoyed it together. The soup was awesome! There was not much lobster in the soup because they added the shrimp but the essence of the lobster was throughout every spoonful of the soup.  The broth was almost made for me because it was not creamy and overly rich, but light with lot a lot of flavor and salt. It was a wonderful start!

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I am so happy that we ordered the mussels because that turned out to be one of my favorite dishes of the meal. The mussels were large, cooked perfectly, and full of flavor.  I have never had mussels with a curry and coconut milk broth but the combination was phenomenal.  I am planning my next visit back just for the mussels alone.  And to top it off, it was accompanied with two large pieces of toasted, buttered bread that was so delicious, it was a real treat.  In addition to those appetizers, we also ordered the Calamari Fritti ($13) which was fried calamari with garlic aioli and spicy marinara, and Artichoke Fritti which may be a special because I cannot locate it on the menu but was fried artichoke with a dipping sauce.  My date was on his own with those due to my fried food restriction.  He said that the calamari was cooked well and enjoyed the sauces that accompanied the fried calamari. The fried artichoke was breaded and fried and to be honest, could have been anything.  It did not look all that appetizing to me.  My date thought it was good and had a savory element that tasted almost like a meat until you got down to it and realize that it was a vegetable. They had some additional appetizers that I would be willing to try when finish with Lenten season and can enjoy food without restrictions.

For the main meal, I ordered Pan-Seared Atlantic King Salmon ($26) that included honey lavender salmon with sautéed broccolini, and lobster gremolada mashed potatoes. I usually don’t order salmon in restaurants because of easy it is to make at home but I was a serious craving for mash potatoes so I opted for this dish instead of the Seared Scallops with Risotto. The salmon was flavorful and cooked perfectly, but there was only a small serving of the broccolini and I wish there was a little bit more to enjoy.  The salmon was plated on top of the mashed potatoes that were good but the gremolada addition to the potatoes was a bit different. Gremolada is a chopped herb condiment usually made of lemon zest, garlic, and parsley.  The garlic and parsley were welcomed to the potatoes but the lemon zest was a bit overpowering.  Overall, I still enjoyed my dish but I think I may have enjoyed the scallop dish a little bit more. My date ordered the House-Made Fresh Pasta of Gnocchi Di Ricotta Al Pesto ($23) which was ricotta gnocchi with a pesto cream sauce and cherry tomatoes. Due to all the appetizers, he was not able to finish his meal but enjoyed the parts that he had.  The sauce was a great combination of the richness of the pesto and the cream.  He and I both agree that the richness could be a bit too much in a large quantity but nonetheless was a pretty solid dish.

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It is the dessert part of the dinner where things took a weird turn that really left me with a sour taste in my mouth. As soon as I saw Chocolate Molten Cake ($9) on the menu, I was excited. It is served with a fresh berry sauce and vanilla bean gelato that all sound like wonderful flavors to accompany the dessert right? Well, what really upset me was that the vanilla bean gelato had at some point melted and then been refrozen so it was laced with loads of ice chips. To the point where it was hard to enjoy the dessert. The presentation had the gelato and cake on separate ends of the plate and while I usually prefer it served directly on top of the cake, I am glad it was separated.  The cake was just ok but really needed the enhancement of the vanilla bean gelato but the ice ruined it. I did something I rarely do and just stopped eating and did not finish the plate. I decided not to complain but was really disappointed because it was a simple mistake that ruined the dessert altogether.

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My date ordered the Mascarpone Cheesecake ($9) with seasonal berries and the gelato of the day ($9) which was a salted caramel.  Both desserts he really enjoyed though I though the serving of the cheesecake was a bit small considering the price. Again, this reminds me why I love the Cheesecake Factory cheesecake so much because for $2 less, you could have almost triple the size of the cheesecake. But he enjoyed it and raved over the salted caramel gelato that he had to have me try. It was very good considering that I’m not the biggest fan of caramel BUT I was jealous because his gelato was perfect and my order was filled with ice.

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Overall, we had a lovely romantic meal under dim lights and candle light. Our service was great and our food experience started on a high and basically went down from there.  I would be willing to give it another try but order those mussels again and the risotto if that were available.  There are several other items on the menu that look pretty amazing that I want to try so I will be back again.  Not sure if I will order my dessert again though.  I do not have the exact figure of the meal but I was told that it was around $140.  It was a date so it was not my responsibility to pay. But, for two people and the amount of food ordered, that was pretty reasonable price. The following is my Seven Mac Score for the restaurant:

Sotto Sopra

Criteria Scale Score
Accessibility 1-10 10
Customer Service 1-20 20
Cleanliness 1-10 10
Food Presentation 1-10 9
Price Value 1-10 9
Taste of Food 1-30 25
Overall Experience 1-10 9
TOTAL: 92/100

Please look of my next post as I share more dining experiences in and around Baltimore and DC.  Also, you can find me on Instagram @finediningdiva and twitter @moderndaybeauty. Also, if you would like to follow my blog to receive notification when a new blog is posted, please send your email to finediningdiva@gmail.com.

And remember: It’s a BIG world and we are going to eat our way through it!

 

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