Tuesday, July 25, 2006

SORTINO'S ITALIAN PIZZERIA AND BAR, 2nd floor, 736-11 Hannam Dong, Youngsangu, Seoul Tel: 02 797 0488 www.sortinos-seoul.com.

Despite the address this place is actually on Itaewon road past the fire station. You will spot it by the Italian flags hanging onto the street.

I recently read a rave review about this place, and had decided that Santino the owner must have really looked after that particular journalist to ensure such a fabulous write up. So imagine my surprise when I rocked up to this Italian eatery to meet a friend (who happens to be mates with Mr Santino Sortino himself), and we were looked after by the owner for the night. Santino is a true professional!

The restaurant is on the second floor, a light airy space divided in two by the stairwell coming up from below. The windows look out onto busy Itaewon road, but are above the traffic, windowsills are covered in piles of used corks. Tables are simple and plain, and the seating is a mixture of stylish leather chairs, and comfortable sofa banquettes around the walls.

Santino ordered the kitchen to prepare our meal for us. We began with a salad of rocket, mozzarella and gorgonzola with a balsamic dressing and italian breads. This was followed by one of the best pasta dishes I have had in years, real home Italian cooking. We ate meatballs with pasta fusilli in a rich, soft tomato sauce, sprinkled with the perfect amount of freshly grated parmesan. To follow this we had a wonderfully tender, well-seasoned steak served under a mountain of rocket salad, and a thick slice of swordfish served with wilted spinach, basil and cherry tomatos. Both of these were great, the beef especially was melt-in-the-mouth tender.

Later, as the four of us kind of rolled about in our seats having way over-eaten, Santino came over to chat. Despite our protestations, he waved a couple of desserts on to the table. A creamy smooth, raspberry-topped pannacotta and an awesome tiramisu - the perfect wetness and thickly dusted with gorgeous cocoa powder. If you usually avoid tiramisu because of the disgusting versions that are made in some places, come to Sortinos and you need not fear disappointment!

This is a great restaurant, really good quality of food with an owner who is always around to make sure that his customers are happy. He hasn't had a day off in the six months since opening - a hard life, but that is what it takes to make a fantastic restaurant and he and his wife are succeeding.

1 comment:

Jon Allen said...

it sounds great. someone else recommended it to me as well.
great blog BTW.