- scene: Small room with a large bar and nondescript decor
- sip: Speciality cocktails, wines, anything
- savor: Tono e fagioli (if they have it); cacio e pepe; bolognese; rabbit
- sit: With a date; with another couple if you make a reservation and with a friend if you sit at the bar
- spend: $$
- address: 105 Christopher Street
- phone number: (212) 514-5774
- website: www.isodinyc.com
I Sodi is the definition of a “neighborhood gem.” The neighborhood is the West Village, and the staff is very clearly devoted to making the restaurant accessible to regulars and locals, some times aggressively so, but the food and charm are on another level from anything in that neighborhood or beyond. Tucked away on Christopher Street, you could almost walk right past I Sodi, which would be a huge mistake, because although the decor is not overly impressive or remarkable, the second you step inside it is a transporting experience. The windows are half textured, which blurs out the streets and the cars and leaves only the light and the tree tops coming in, taking you out of the hustle and bustle into a lair that is food focused. The cozy quarters are centered around a large bar, which is always full with customers eating their meals there; guests who must wait for their table are served their drinks in a tiny a vestibule outside the dining room. We had one bad service experience, when a terrible waitress told us that we were no longer allowed to sit at a table because one of our guests cancelled and the other was running late and she would would rather have the table for walk-ins, and unless our guest arrived in 15 mins, we must be seated at the bar, even though we had a reservation. On that particular evening our table sat empty for over an hour as we fumed, but the service at the bar was so flawless we were happy that he was the one who ended up receiving our tip, not Miss Jerk Face.
Anyway, the moral of the story is that I Sodi takes its reservations and seatings seriously, so plan ahead or wing it, whatever you want. The menu features core items that don’t really change, but the seasonal specials are special enough to return for. A recent visit treated us to Tonno a Fagioli that was nothing short of perfection. The right amount of zip and varied textures made this dish an outstanding and interesting surprise, and the serving size was substantial. Another night featured burrata and tomatoes that was exceptional; the burrata was slightly denser and firmer than we are used to, but the tomatoes were a beautiful summer bounty. Cacio e Pepe is a big number at I Sodi, listed as a risotto but also available as with spaghetti. I prefer it with pasta, where the cheese doesn’t quite melt as much, but risotto actually lends it self to this sauce quite nicely, with the cheese making a creamy coating for the rice, and the pepper that almost mimics the oh so slight crunch of well-prepared risotto. I recommend a half order of the risotto to go with the hen under a brick, or as a sharing appetizer, and the pasta as a dinner course. The beef bolognese is obviously homemade for all its tasty non-uniformity, each bite a different yet enlightening combination of pasta, meat and sauce ( see featured image). The bolognese also shows up in the lasagna, sandwich between many light as air sheets of pasta; the creaminess of the lasagna and the softness of the layers pasta keep the dish from being too heavy. The rabbit and the fried steak are also wonders for the senses, the savory aroma of the rabbit is especially arresting even before you take a bite. Tiramisu had a lot of cream and delicate lady fingers, a lightish way to end to the meal.
The service at I Sodi (expect for you know who) is casual, attentive and efficient. They all look like they live in the neighborhood, which is especially fitting. Go now, and tell only your closest friends…