Hidden underneath the Chestnut Street Bridge, Sotto (which means under) is tucked in along the row of beat-up looking row houses across the street from 2401. This restaurant provides what you expect from its façade – it is no fuss, no muss, quality food where the staff is more concerned about the food than they are about you. Do not come here if you expect to be pampered; come if you want to enjoy good food, BYOB, and quality prices.
Despite its proximity to 2401, Sotto is a fairly low key BYOB frequented by mostly local Philly crowd. Call in late on a Saturday afternoon and you should be able to secure a table for 2 or 4 just a few hours before prime dinner time. Unlike the much heralded La Viola, Erawan, and other popular BYOB destinations in center city, Sotto has a quiet, serene atmosphere perfected suited for casual dining. The restaurant is very well-lit, plates and silverware do not match, and the size of the tables pieced together for a group meals are uncoordinated as well. While it is rough around the edges, Sotto does provide quality meals at a great price.
The food portions at Sotto are generous. The pasta reminds you of what your Italian grandmother would make; nothing fancy but plentiful, hearty, and filled with love. The seafood pappardelle special rivals any pasta at any BYOB in center city. The veal was cooked to perfection with generous portions of sides. The caprese salad was fresh and tasteful. The only caution I would say is the wait staff. While they are not rude, they are definitely aloof. They do not small talk nor smile. It’s all about the food you order and getting that to you. All business, no play.
Given the ambiance and the wait staff, I would not recommend Sotto for a recruiting dinner or a date (especially since there may be high probability of running into Wharton people coming out of group meetings at 2401). However, Sotto has great food at reasonable prices are is a perfect place for small group dinner, learning team dinners, or just catching up with friends from out of town by going to restaurant in center city where there’s a low probability of running into Wharton folks.
Ambiance: 3 stars
Service: 2.5 stars
Food: 4 stars
Overall: 3 stars
Location: located on 24th street, between Samson and Walnut St… just under the 24 and Walnut St Bridge
Recommended Dishes: Pappardelle, fresh seafood entrees, and caprese salad (very fresh)