The boyfriend and I headed for a nice dinner over to Sotto Cinque last night on the Upper East Side (86th between 1st and 2nd). Usually we’re never around my neighborhood at a decent hour to grab dinner, so I was unbelievably excited to try a new restaurant in the neighborhood that I’d hopefully become a regular at. With their Web site advertising “pastas under $5″, I really thought I might have found a gem in the UES. A quick check of the menu online showed only one pasta priced under 5, and most were under 10, which I thought was understandable in this downturn economy.
Warm lighting, cute dÃ©cor and comfortable seating made this place a great date spot, but unfortunately the ambience was better than the food. I will say the servers were very helpful – when we couldn’t decide between a few entrees, she suggested a “side” portion of one of the pastas and charged us a reasonable price for a large amount of food. We ordered fried calamari to start, and the calamari tasted like it had been frozen and the marinara sauce was a little on the sour side. For some reason, tarter sauce was served with the fried calamari (which I’ve never seen before) and sadly, tasted better than the sauce. Unfortunately, dinner wasn’t really memorable. We sampled the sausage and peppers, and found the peppers as the only edible portion of the meal. The sausage was a little overdone and had some thick coating you had to fight to chew through. The pasta side dish, gnocchi with a cream pesto sauce, was decent, but didn’t offer much of a wow factor. Finally, my dish, the gnocchi sorrentino, was missing a majority of the mozzarella – but thankfully the sauce wasn’t nearly as sour as the sauce with the calamari.
Overall, we left the restaurant feeling full – of mediocre food. The ambiance though is the only reason I’d go back – maybe just for a glass of wine.The Basics Name:Â Sotto Cinque Location: 322 E 86th St Who to bring:Â Date Price:Â Typical NYC – $$ Overall:Â They better have coupons.Â 3 Stars.