I Sodi, a tiny restaurant on Christopher Street, received a bit of acclaim when it opened eight years ago, but that was nothing compared to the accolades that Rita Sodi's other restaurant, Via Carota, received. The Grove Street cafe is a collaboration with Jody Williams, but I Sodi is still Rita's solo project. And now Pete Wells is happy to report that the first restaurant is hitting its stride. The menu has expanded a bit over the years, but Sodi is still laser-focused on reproducing the flavors of Tuscany. Here's Wells on a few favorites:
In I Sodi's kitchen, main ingredients are prohibited from hiding. Chicken is fried inside the thinnest shroud of crust imaginable, one that fuses with the skin into crunch without substance. The baked branzino is sweet, dense, naked except for olive oil; it doesn't need even a drop of lemon juice. I used to believe that beef tartare needed to be blasted with lightning bolts of salt, mustard and other seasonings until I heaped some of I Sodi's on a long slice of grilled bread. It tasted like raw beef â filet mignon in firm pieces the size of a blueberry â and extra-virgin olive oil. It did not taste salty, although it must contain salt. Salt is allowed to hide.
Wells loves the pastas and vegetable dishes, but he's a bit disappointed by the risotto. The critic also wishes that the wine list had more selections under $70. But overall, he thinks the restaurant is worthy of two stars.