A First Look at Sorella, a Taste of Piedmont in Chinatown

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The latest entrant to the fine-dining gentrification of Chinatown is Sorella, a northern Italian wine bar and restaurant now having its soft opening next door to Allen Street's beloved dollar-for-five Fried Dumpling. The eatery is the maiden effort of chef-owner Emma Hearst (yes, of those Hearsts), a former Union Square Cafe line cook inspired by the food she encountered while traveling through Piedmont with her best friend and GM, Sarah Krathen. (Their sisterly relationship inspired the restaurant's name.) "We wanted to bring back the love that we found in Piedmont's food and culture to New York," says Hearst, a piercing-and-tattoo enthusiast with the word "soigne" inked on her forearm.

The restaurant, designed by Resistance, is split into two parts. In the front, a long wooden bar-top allows for communal dining on small plates that range from pastas to a pt de Fegato, a concoction of chicken-liver mousse, fried egg, pancetta, and a duck-fat English muffin that Hearst calls "the most decadent chicken-liver dish in the city." Wine, available by the bottle and glass, is also a decorative motif; there's a wine-barrel-vaulted ceiling and subtle splashes on the wall. "We wanted a place drenched in wine," says Hearst. In the back is a small dining room that will serve a market-driven two-course menu priced between $30 and $45 that will include "a lot of braises and a good amount of lake fish, since Piedmont is landlocked," says the chef. (Most ingredients are from the Union Square Greenmarket, and everything from bread to pasta is made in-house.) In about six weeks, look for a Sunday brunch served from noon to the enlightened hour of 9 p.m. Per Hearst, "who gets up on a Sunday and doesn't want to eat brunch?" Walk in this week to sample the small plates during the soft open; the dining room will open next Tuesday. Click through our slideshow to see the dining room and a few dishes.

Sorella, 95 Allen St., nr. Delancey St.; 212-274-9595; SorellaNYC.com.

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