Sunday, February 14, 2010

Sortino's, Itaewon; 소르띠노, 이태원









Valentine's day called for some good eating, and the rumbling in my belly called for some Italian. Sortino's is where I go for my pasta fix, and I like some of the other stuff they do there, so it was a no-brainer. I forgot to make reservations though, so we really lucked out and were able to walk in and be seated at the only vacant table, and we even got the same waiter we always get when we visit. His English is not great, which I think is a bit weak for an Itaewon restaurant, but his service is great. He is always around to refill your wine or water, and brings out dishes at a nice pace, queuing up dishes at a good interval so that you can enjoy each dish.

If we had arrived 5 minutes later, we probably wouldn't have gotten a chance to sit down, so this meal went down very well for us.

The food here is not the best or most creative Italian food in the world obviously, but for Korea, Sortino is really hitting hard and bringing solid game, and I can support a restaurateur who does that. Once your starter comes out, you will realize all of the work put into the menu to get the fundamentals down. He has a pretty intimate knowledge of what he can and can't do with local Korean ingredients, which is pretty key for Italian food - which are built around a lot of tomatoes, cheese, and olives, among many other things that are not easy to get properly in this country.

I also learned the key to good food blogging - bring a notebook and pen or something, to jot names of your plates. I tore into the Chianti a little too quickly and stopped caring about the details, therefore I don't know the menu names for most of the stuff we got, but I can describe them accurately enough.

What we got, just a bit of everything;

Antipasto Misto platter for two - prosciutto, artichoke heart pieces, assorted olives, rocket, gorgonzola and grana padano, roasted red peppers, and two portions of insalata caprese, with the best slicing tomatoes I've had in Korea to date, barring the Kinokuniya ones I get smuggled to me from Japan. Sortino's fresh tomatoes are a Korean variety, but are fully ripened and have a great color. You can't find these at stores.

Green salad, tossed with lemon dressing - typical green salad, had a couple olives and assorted cherry tomatoes in it, along with a couple dried tomatoes. I really like the lemon dressing, but I eat this at home pretty much everyday as well.

Pasta course - it was a penne dish in a spicy tomato sauce, with calabrese sausage. I get this everytime, it's very good, very simple. Probably telling of the quality of the whole outfit.

Steak - 250g wagyu filet cut, with Chianti demiglace. Arrived on top of potato wedges and sauteed mushrooms. The steak itself was good, the accoutrements were not so. Still, this steak was better than the other ones they have on their menu- last time I got the roulade steak with asparagus, which was disappointing.

Pizza - alla diavola - salami, red peppers, red onions, black olives. typical.

Dessert - chocolate cake a la mode, and always a lemon sorbet for me

Wine was a Chianti Superiore

Overall, very solid Italian food, that I crave once in awhile. It can get expensive if you get a bottle of wine and throw in several courses, but I see most people at Sortino's on dates, ordering just a pasta dish and a pizza, drinking house wine. That is not very cool though; I saw a couple eating just a pizza and sharing a diet coke, completely uncool. This is the kind of restaurant where you should go all out, order a whole bunch of food, and take doggy bags home. You'll want to eat the leftover pasta and pizza as your midnight snack. We left pretty buzzed on wine and felt completely full and satisfied, which the sign of a good Italian restaurant.


Total bill was 275,000W for two people.

Food: 4/5 stars
Ambiance: 3/5 stars
Service: 4/5 stars

And, for an after-dinner top off, we dropped by 7 Beonji, to smoke a Cohiba Siglo II, and have some drinks with the TOJ crew.

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