The new Sotto Sopra is turning Italian Cuisine on its head

Taking over the expansive Trumpet Building Atrium situated at the heart of the newest art precinct in Johannesburg on Keyes Art Mile you will find one of the trendiest authentic Italian restaurants called Sotto Sopra.

The restaurant adds to the vast assemblage of galleries, design stores and fine dining restaurants situated on the avenue in Rosebank. It recently opened its doors to the public late last year and is set to attract a whole new crowd within the city.

Piero Carrara, owner of Sotto Sopra and co-owner of the very well-known and successful Kolonaki situated on 4th in Parkhurst, explains how he named his new restaurant. “In Italian ‘Sotto’ alone means ‘Under’ and ‘Sopra’ means ‘On top’ and together the two words describe something being upside down or topsy turvy. This name came about after the restaurant’s design was conceptualised and the name aims to pay homage to it bold, dynamic, playful and colourful aesthetic.” Not only does the name describe the visual appeal of the restaurant but it also presents what’s truly unique about the restaurant.

After many years working in his family’s engineering business and travelling abroad, many times to Italy, Carrara was able to understand Italian cuisine on a whole new level, a level which had not yet been explored in South Africa. His dream and only passion was to open a super distinctive and matchless Italian world-class restaurant one day – and now he has.

Sotto Sopra, as its name suggests, has two levels which offer an entire different experience to the customer. The first area of the restaurant extends the idea of the traditional Italian trattoria experience – serving pizza thin based Roman style pizza and handmade in-house pasta in a flamboyant, open and relaxing dining area – suitable for a quick meeting, sundowners with colleagues or friends or a speedy lunch on-the-go. The other area of the restaurant offers customers a luxurious dining experience. The area is decked with a luscious floor to ceiling plant wall, comfortable and cosy seating all behind glass doors that look out onto the buzzing city. It provides the perfect balance of great food and distinguished ambiance.

Carrara adds, “Sotto Sopra commands a prominent corner of the building with two shops: one above and one below. This is where the idea to create two versions of the Italian food concept originated. Sotto: Is the casual cocktail bar and pizzeria, with great pasta, antipasti and secondi (main meals) while Sopra: Is an exclusive chic space accommodating an authentic Italian restaurant dining experience. On top of it all we get an incredible forest atrium for fabulous dining and people watching.”

The reason behind the choice of location

Carrara explains, “Rosebank was a natural choice for me, its central as well as being a fast developing residential and business precinct. What caught my eye immediately when searching for the ideal home for Sotto Sopra was the pure magnificence of the Trumpet Building and the intricate architecture. I thought this would not only add to the personality that I envisioned for the restaurant but also offer relevance to my Italian decent and our appreciation for exquisite architecture and excellent craftmanship.”

The restaurant certainly fits right into the appeal, culture and vibe of The Art Mile. Circa is situated next door and the beautiful Everard Read is in front – which demonstrates the unique environment of the place as well as the diversity and allure of the Trumpet Building which brings together several aspects of life - and now cuisine is one of them.

The menu, the tastes and more..

Italian food is all about using fresh ingredients to create extraordinary dishes. Sotto Sopra uses this ethos as its foundation and simply adds its own ‘spice’ to the food to make it suitable to the South African palette. At Sotto expect to eat thin based pizza made with the finest stone ground, GMO and bleach free flours which are fermented for 72 hours to give the best flavour, light texture and allow for easy digestion.

“After 30 years of making and designing these pizzas, our team believe that now we have finally made the perfect pizza which I am happy with. Moreover our combinations of toppings are unique and truly innovative. The process of making exceptional food is a journey and one we continue to develop each day,” says Carrara.

At Sotto, expect to indulge in some of the most incredible cocktails, such as: Italian Classics like the Negroni, Americano and Aperol Spritz which are uniquely served with delectable Stuzzechini (bar snacks) which include marinated olives and in-house baked kale and vegetable crisps. While on other hand, Sopra offers an ultra-chic Italian dining experience. There is a la carte offering of Antipasti, Primi, Secondi and Dolci and very soon the restaurant will be introducing its six and nine course degustation (tasting) menus with wine pairings.

What you can expect from the restaurant

Sotto Sopra comfortably seats 160 people in total with 80 in each dining area. Carrara believes in family and friendships and that is how he has chosen to conduct his business but also how he serves his customers – with a dash of TLC. “We understand that the world is currently facing tough economic circumstances, hence we have priced our dishes fairly and affordably, in order make every single person’s experience a memorable one which will have them returning with friends and creating relationships to last for years to come,” adds Carrara.

The takeaway experience, Carrara explains: I would like for all customers to firstly see that we have poured our heart and souls into the restaurant right from the tiles on floor all way up to the ceiling, every detail was carefully thought through and implemented for specific reasons to make the experience untouchable and flawless for everyone. We took the design of the restaurant very seriously, but had a lot of fun doing it. We want to translate the same passion in our food. Mostly we want people to enjoy great food, with a matched experience while having fun while they are with us – taking home an incredible sensory experience where every sense has been engaged.