A little bit hippie and a whole lot fabulousEat This! Thursday, September 1st, 2016
“Butch” said he had some news to share. “Another promotion?” I jokingly queried.
“Not exactly,” he somberly replied.
We were seated at a table in Cucina Sorella, the latest addition to the Urban Kitchen Group’s family of restaurants. Located in the heart of Kensington, the large space follows the Group’s successful formula of offering California-inspired Italian cuisine in a lively setting with eye-catching décor. A colorful jumble of textures and fabrics creates a funky casual vibe. Comfortable pillows are scattered everywhere. A cluster of macramé plant holders cascade from the ceiling. The marble-topped central bar is paneled with rough repurposed wood. A little bit hippie and a whole lot fabulous.
“I got laid off last week,” he said.
“I am so sorry,” I commiserated after recovering from the shock. “What do you say we numb the pain with drinks and food.”
We began with craft cocktails, the Pera e Basilico ($12) for him and the Cucumber Blossom ($10) for me. Pera begins with pear infused vodka mixed with muddled basil, lemon juice, a splash of soda and a dash of angostura bitters. Fruit forward and well-balanced. The Blossom is a refreshing slightly tart blend of vodka, Elderflower-based St-Germain liqueur, cucumber water and lime juice. Perfect for a balmy summer night.
Andrea, upbeat and whip-smart, presented our appetizers. The divine Squash Blossoms ($13) are filled with smooth ricotta cheese, then dipped in a thin tempura batter and fried to a delicate crunch. A fennel lime vinaigrette and zesty horseradish gremolata completes the presentation. The bites of grilled Calamari ($12) are served with a green tomato sauce and a sprinkle of za’atar made with minced oregano, thyme, garlic, sesame seeds and somewhat astringent sumac. Although the protein had a good chew and subtle smokey flavor, the centerpiece of the dish was overpowered by the strong savory herbs.
Butch said his entrée was “uncomplicated and satisfying.” The moderately firm squares of homemade Ravioli ($20) are filled with mushrooms sautéeed in white wine, and served with a creamy Bolognese bianco sauce redolent with ground veal. So simple and so delicious. I enjoyed the hearty portion of succulent slow roasted Pork Shoulder ($20) served with cannellini beans, braised and fried mustard greens, ‘nduja (a spreadable pork salume made with roasted peppers and spices) and a mild salsa verde which added a splash of color to the selection but was lost in the flavor profile.
I paired a glass of 2013 Mouton Noir Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley ($12), with the tender pork dish. The deep red pour is earthy and spicy with hints of dark cherries and ginger. Very lively and gratifying.
To complete the meal, Butch sipped an espresso ($3.50) and nibbled on a currant biscotti while I savored the Chocolate Peanut Butter Bar ($9). The decadent super-sweet dessert is made with smooth chocolate atop a peanut butter cookie crumble, and served with dabs of chocolate ganache, toasted marshmallow and a scatter of edible flowers. Nirvana for sucrose junkies.
“Feel better?” I asked.
“I might be unemployed, but I’m well sated,” Butch replied.
Cucina Sorella is open for happy hour and dinner seven days a week. See something you like? Shop at their onsite (and online) marketplace and take it home. A friendly reminder that parking is extremely limited in the bustling Kensington neighborhood. Eat this, hungry readers. You’ll be glad you did.
4055 Adams Ave.
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