In a city with no shortage of Italian dining, Sofia, a new restaurant in the Warehouse District, offers a slightly different take on the cuisine.
Many of its dishes seem worlds away from the Creole-Italian standbys that populate this town. Sofia’s dishes are lighter and less confined by tradition, and executive chef Talia Diele’s plates come across as thoughtful and restrained. The menu isn’t regionally specific, and instead runs the gamut from wood-fired pizzas and vegetable-focused starters to pastas and salads.
A group endeavor from local restaurateur Billy Blatty and the Denver-based Culinary Creative Group, the spot opened in late January in a busy pocket of the Warehouse District that has seen several restaurant openings in the past year.
The Decatur Street location has a bright dining room decorated with gold arabesque designs that extend from the walls and light fixtures to the tabletops.
During the daytime, Sofia’s modern design is bright and airy, and dining is more casual. At night, the space feels more sultry and cosmopolitan. The large, open dining room has a long marble-topped bar, making it a welcoming spot for single diners as well as large parties.
At lunchtime, pillowy hunks of burrata are served with thick ribbons of prosciutto, orange and grapefruit segments and a seed-heavy savory granola, which adds a nice salty crunch. A garlicky green goddess dressing paints the plate and pea shoots top the colorful medley — a beautiful and delicious dish.
Many of the antipasti are substantial and easily shareable. The Brassica plate includes charred broccoli florets and Brussels sprouts tossed in an earthy brown butter vinaigrette. Also good is a decadent blue crab risotto made creamy with mascarpone, tempered with bursts of citrus and decorated with sorrel leaves. The dish might be a bit much on its own, but it works wonderfully as a shared course when paired with lighter dishes.
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Carne crudo, made with a Creekstone Farms eye of round, is dressed with an umami-rich anchovy dressing while puffed rice adds texture. The dish is flavorful but heavy.
Puffy, charred piata bread arrives glistening and steaming from the restaurant’s wood-burning oven. From the same oven comes a line of pizzas. Crusts are chewy and pliable, pockmarked by a few charred bubbles but not overly crisped.
Stracciatella forms the base of the Signore Bianco pie, a medley of Grana Padano cheese and creamed leeks. A shower of red onions, briny green onions, Fresno chilies and fennel pollen saves what could have come off as one-dimensional flavor. The peppers add a bit of heat, and a couple of drops of the house chili oil add extra zing.
For dessert, look no further than the torta, a buttery, dense and crumbly pistachio cake topped with fresh strawberries and wisps of Greek yogurt espuma. Like so many of the dishes here, the dessert is an example of the kitchen’s affinity for letting a few ingredients shine.
Sofia offers a modern and light take on Italian cooking that gives diners a different taste of the time-honored cuisine.
516 Julia St., (504) 322-3216; www.sofianola.com
Lunch Tue.-Fri., dinner Tue.-Sun.
citrus salad and the pistachio torta