If you already know about I Sodi, it’s probably not because of us. When we first reviewed this restaurant, we were riding high on L’Artusi, our favorite West Village Italian place that also happens to be around the corner. Our feeling on I Sodi was that it could never compete. A few years later, L’Artusi is still our favorite legal drug. But I Sodi no longer needs to compete - it’s something different entirely.
I Sodi is a single, narrow room with white tablecloths, servers wearing ties, maybe eight tables, and a bar that takes up half of the space. It feels upscale, but it’s not trying too hard. The good energy in the room comes from people who are enjoying their dinner - not from hip lighting fixtures or hanging plants or dusty shades of pink. Everyone is here for the food.
And that food is straightforward, classic Italian. Dishes so simple you’re confused when they end up tasting this good. Stuff like artichoke salad with only olive oil and parmesan, spaghetti cacio e pepe, and lasagna. Granted, that lasagna is 20 layers or something ridiculous like that, but it’s still just meat lasagna - the best we’ve ever had. If the default place you go to in your mind is your future retirement estate in Tuscany - or really anywhere it would be acceptable to live on a diet of pasta alone - you will like I Sodi.
You’ll also like I Sodi because you’ll be comfortable here. It’s a small space that’s always packed, but never feels like a sh*tshow. (They’ve even built a walled-off vestibule to put the hangry waiting people, so you can enjoy your ravioli in peace.) The waitstaff makes sure you’re never without a drink, and when you’re ready for another round you have a seven-item negroni menu and lots of Italian reds to choose from. One visit here and you’ll understand why everyone around you seems to be a regular.
If L’Artusi is the perfect modern Italian place (and it is), then I Sodi is its traditional counterpart. The former is where you take the person you think you might want to marry - and I Sodi is where you take the parents of the person you think you might want to marry. After which point you can move onto your next major life step: retirement real estate in Tuscany.
They’re going to ask you if you want one. You know what to do. $2 well spent.
I Sodi has a specials menu that’s constantly changing, and you should absolutely order things from it. Like these fried artichokes, which are basically a mountain of bronze feathery things that were maybe vegetables at one point but have moved onto a much more magestic place.
The best salad at I Sodi, this is a big pile of bitter leaves, mascarpone and blue cheeses, balsamic, and walnuts. The cheeses and vinegar combine to form a creamy, tangy dressing, and the whole thing is excellent.
Only available as a special when the artichokes are good. This is nothing more than a bed of super-thinly-sliced artichokes, covered in sheets of parmesan, and topped with olive oil. We would sleep in here any night of the week.
The mains at I Sodi are more than respectable, but if you even so much dabble in the religion of carbohydrates, we would suggest you focus your attention on the pastas. This cacio e pepe is one of the better ones in the city. Simple and perfect, we don’t ever want to have a meal here without this on our table.
This is probably I Sodi’s signature pasta, and for good reason. It’s something like 26 layers of pasta, plus bechamel and an insanely good meat sauce - but somehow it’s not so heavy that you feel like you need an oxygen mask. You’re not leaving here without eating this.
Again, order off the specials menu. You will be rewarded. The pappardelle pasta itself is perfectly cooked, and the rabbit and mushroom bolognese is incredible.
We’re referring to this by its Italian name, because if you call it the “cornish hen grilled under a brick,” your server will just repeat it back to you in Italian, and then you might be left confused and making her repeat herself like we did. Don’t say we never try to help you. Oh, and this is a good chicken.