Sola Pasta Bar in NYC was a magical experience; let me set the tone before jumping into a life changing pasta tasting afternoon. It was a beautiful Saturday in Soho. The birds were singing, the sun was shining and we were on a mission to find a bright green neon dress for an upcoming girls trip to Vegas. Needless to say, by the end of that search, we were in dire need of a glass of wine. We stumbled upon a cute restaurant on the corner of Broadway and Grand St. It was an indoor/outdoor space, and looked like the perfect spot to stop and have a glass of wine. Little did we know what we just stumbled upon. And by stumbled, I mean guided by the hand of the Lord himself, to be delivered the most incredible pasta I’ve had since being back from Italy. Now keep in mind, NYC has so many restaurants, like, tens of thousands of restaurants. In fact, I once read that it would take you nearly 33 years to eat at every one of them. I’m full of facts people – stick around, I’ve got plenty more! Anyways, what I’m getting at is NYC has a lot of options to choose from when it comes to dinning out, and the recommendations I received on where to go were plentiful. But fate, or maybe just plain exhaustion, would have its way – and we were seated at Sola.
Location: 330 W Broadway, New York, NY 10013
Atmosphere: With cool tones, brass and gold accents, and a sleek modern vibe, one could mistake this restaurant’s atmosphere to be, what’s the word? Cold. But let me tell you this, it’s anything but. Sola has somehow magically balanced an incredibly sleek restaurant, with the most welcoming and inviting undertones. Maybe it’s the open kitchen in the middle of Sola, that silently displays the transparency of their craft to their guests; or maybe it’s the warm pleasantries you receive from the staff when being welcomed in; or perhaps, it’s just because Sola is different. Every detail in Sola seems to serve a purpose, and trust me when I say, no detail is missed. From the buckles on the aprons, to the gorgeous accent lights, everywhere you look the flow of Sola is flawless. And I absolutely LOVE an open kitchen – there’s nothing better than watching talented people perform an art right in front of your eyes.
Service: Top notch. We had a lovely server by the name of Iskra, who was so sweet, friendly and incredibly knowledgable. She helped guide us through the menu, and waited patiently for me to select my wine. Side note, I was so flustered from the neon dress hunt, that I couldn’t decide on a Rosé or a Pinot – Sorry Iskra! But Iskra was great, she was attentive to our needs, and brought us our courses in a timely manner (which will make more sense as you keep reading). What we ordered is also mentioned next, but I’d like to add that we were at Sola for 3 hours… Even typing that I’m like, wow, really? Yep. 3 hours. So long in fact, that Iskra had a break, and we were still there when she returned. However, during her absence we were well taken care of by multiple people, and not in a weird way where they just hand you off to the least busy server, everyone took great care of us. I also want to point out, by the end of our dinner, we were chatting with Iskra and she truly seems passionate about Sola. She even stated that she loves what she does – and honestly, it shows. Don’t ever let her go, Sola!
Food: Everything listed on the menu sounds incredible. And better yet, with the kitchen just a couple feet away, you can actually smell and see the dishes being prepared; an absolute tease, setting all your senses into a frenzy. You want to order everything – which, is basically what we did. We couldn’t decide, so Iskra suggested the pasta tasting. 5 courses of delicious pasta? Count me in. The thing I wasn’t prepared for though, was the amount of pasta Sola serves at each course. Buckle up, this tasting is about to take you on a wild ride to carb heaven.
Our first dish: Tonnarelli Cacio E Pepe (Pecorino Cheese Fondue, Black Pepper)
Surprisingly, this was my favorite dish of the tasting. You may ask, why is that surprising? Wait until you continue to scroll down and see the masterpieces that arrived at our table… But there was just something about the perfected simplicity of this dish; a humble plate that flourished with familiarity and comfort, topped off with a sprinkle of pepper. I could eat this every night and go to bed very happy (and most likely 10 lbs heavier).
Our second dish: Spaghetti Aglio Olio E Peperoncino (Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Garlic, Calabrian Chili, Sun Dried Tomatoes)
The first bite sent me into a series of flashbacks from our family trip to the Amalfi Coast a couple years ago. This dish tasted like Italy. The pop of color from the sun-dried tomatoes, and the perfectly spun and lined pasta, made me want to take photos for hours; this dish is art. And it didn’t disappoint the palette either. Light, yet filling, each bite leaves you with a hint of heat from the chilis.
Our third dish: Maf Alda Al Ragù (Bolognese Ragu, Parmesan Cheese)
I have to be completely honest, I could only eat about half of this dish. I didn’t pace myself with the first two, and I still had two more to go… so sacrifices had to be made, unfortunately. It also didn’t help that this was one of the heavier dishes in the tasting; however, the hardiness of the Bolognese Ragù was welcomed with open arms. And the noodles – my Lord! They were fabulous, and again, done to perfection. The spices used in this sauce are really the star of the show though. Coming from experience (and still perfecting), it’s challenging to master the art of this sauce, but Sola seems to have done it.
I would also like to point out, this is the moment I secretly unbuttoned my pants. No shame in the game. I was here to eat, and planned on continuing to do so. By now the pasta sweats had begun to kick in, and the tempo of the restaurant began to pick up; the music got louder, and the smell of garlic got stronger, as I whispered a quick prayer for help in being able to eat the next two dishes.
Our fourth dish: Gnocco Ripieno (Cacio & Pepe, Stuffed Gnocchi, Italian Sausage, Green Asparagus)
This is one of the weirder analogies I’ve ever used, but for some reason, it kind of works. Stick with me here. If there was one pasta dish that was going to be my best friend, it would be this one. Well dressed, attractive on the outside, and even prettier on the inside (you know how important that is to me!). The stuffed Gnocchi was so fluffy, it was like cutting into little delicious clouds, with a surprise in the middle. And quite honestly, having a few crisp asparaguses in there, made me feel a little healthier after devouring pounds of carbs.
And last, but not least, the fifth dish: 24k Gold Spaghetti Ricci (Squid Ink Spaghetti, Sea Urchin, Seaweed White Sesame, Calabrian Chili, 24k Gold Leaf)
There’s no other way to describe this dish than to use the word: Elegant. I mean, look at those details. I mean, really look! How exquisite is the gold’s contrast to the black? Absolutely one of the most visually stunning dishes I’ve be honored to eat (and stare at) – I actually almost felt bad eating it! For any seafood lovers out there, this is the dish to order. From the squid ink noodles, to the sea urchin, your tastebuds will thank you for the experience.
By the end of the 5th course, I could barely keep my eyes open. I was slipping into a pasta coma. All those carbs were catching up to me… but just shortly after this photo was taken, Iskra stopped by to ask if we had room for dessert. I couldn’t even have a sip of water by this point – so we politely declined, and said we were just going to finish our wine, and then head back to our hotel to nap (I can’t even write that without laughing at how old we sound).
But then something magical happened, a cannoli fairy by the name of Iskra appeared at our table and dropped off two gorgeous cannolis, on the house. Have I mentioned how great she is? I thought there’s no way, physically or mentally, I could attempt to eat this dessert. Whelp. I guess I don’t give the fat kid in me enough credit, I devoured it. Done. Gone. Just a crumb or two left that I missed while scraping up every little bit of deliciousness. This is the only cannoli I’ve had in the US that’s compared to the ones I’ve eaten in Italy. You MUST order one for dessert, even if you don’t think you could muster the strength to finish it – trust me, you can.
Overall: If you’re ever in the neighborhood, or just a crazed pasta foodie, you need to stop at Sola’s. From the moment you walk in, to the moment you roll out, everything and everyone is top notch. Sometimes people get intimidated by NYC restaurants, because in all fairness, some of them are standoffish and down right snobby. But Sola is different; they have the classy digs, but what separates them from everyone else, is the truly genuine and welcoming staff, the talented and passionate chefs, and of course, the best pasta in Soho.