Breaking News: Chef Rob Leclair has claimed the kitchen at Sofia, the new(ish) darling of Yorkville. And we couldn’t be happier! Leclair was handpicked by Mark McEwen to open ByMark, Fabricca and he did a term at ONE.
Now, no stranger to the fickle tastes of Yorkville, he has created a menu that shows off something old, something new, but nothing borrowed. Each dish has been finessed to a distinctly delectable point. Crisp baby artichokes with Meyer Lemon and Basil (Carciofi Romano) are, with due respect, tastier and more tender than those I had on my last visit to Rome. Fritto Misto is listed in my little dining notebook as a dish to recommend. Leclair pampers each morsel of crisp lobster, shrimp, calamari and offers a little boat of lush Meyer Lemon, Bomba Aioli.
After these two dishes which have such a high flavour quotient, I am curious if Leclair’s imagination compilations in his salads and pasta will be on par. Buffala Mozarella is partnered with a grilled peach, balsamico and basil; Carpaccio is accessorized to the nines with figs, pine nuts, bread-crumbs, truffle Pecorino and Arugula. With a basket of the just baked house breads, this is a lovely dish indeed. The scent of truffle preceeds the server’s placing the pasta on the table. This Agnolotti al Tartufo sings of rich seasonal flavours of chanterelles, hazelnuts, melting ricotta and luxurious black truffle. Linguine Al Vongole is a dramatic arrangement of fresh green pasta surrounded by sweet little New Zealand clams.
It’s Thursday night, and the room is filled with beautiful people. Errol Fisher and his band are in top form and we, the audience are all appreciators. I am reminded of the sophisticated supper clubs in N.Y. in the 60s.
Servers are attentive, unobtrusive but available, and the pace of service is right. Ask about the fish: freshly caught whole fish, cooked in the wood burning oven and served with a choice of seasoning. It’s sold by the pound at market price, and they will recommend one pound per person. Once you’ve chosen the fish, the next step is the seasonings: grilled lemon, sea salt and olive oil? Pepperoncini, salsa verde, dill caper, brown butter, salmoriglio biscotto, fennel? This is definitely the best selection and the freshest fish in the city.
In my opinion, these steaks could make a carnivore say a prayer of thanks to the cows. A steak for the table (or for one) is the 32 oz. Porterhouse, Bistecca alla Fiorentina, Calabrian Chili, lemon, olive oil. Filetto di Manzo Rossini means that atop this lovely beef tenderloin there is a crown of foie gras, and Vidalia sweet onions. I could go on, but why spoil the surprises.
Sofia is my new favorite restaurant in the Yorkville neighborhood – and – they welcome you for Sunday Brunch.
Sofia Restaurant and Bar, 99 Yorkville Ave, 416-479-8974
Sara Waxman, OOnt, is an award-winning restaurant critic, best-selling cookbook author, food and travel journalist and has eaten her way through much of the free world for four decades, while writing about it in books, newspapers and magazines. She is the Editor in Chief of DINE and Destinations magazine.