May 1, 2017

Now Open

Sassetta brings a bite of Italy to the Design District

One. More. Bite. It was an all-out eating challenge as our table of four attended a preview night at Sassetta, the newest restaurant to open in the Design District. There were crudos and carbonaras to tackle, pastas to savor and oh, the pizza—lots and lots of pizza. We couldn’t try it all, but we were going to give it our best shot.

We started (as good fans of Italian would) with the dry-aged meatballs. Covered in house red sauce, they’re served with sourdough triangles and a scoop of housemade ricotta. Alternating bites of each—creamy, spicy, crunchy, savory—make for an instant classic. Then there was the tuna crudo in a pool of chili-spiced blood orange and the surprisingly light carbonara starring house-made mafaldine, house-cured guanciale (pork jowl), spinach, and walnuts. All fresh, all seasonal, all satisfying.

Between courses, we admired the surroundings, which are washed with a particular charm at sunset. The vibe is casually elegant at Sassetta. The name pays homage to a sleepy Tuscan village and its everybody’s-family-here atmosphere. A mirror-backed bar is the space’s showpiece. With it, Headington Companies (the team behind the restaurant) gives a nod to “the playful warmth of Hemingway haunt Harry’s Bar in Venice.” It features a top-to-bottom Italian wine list and cocktails with a similar Mediterranean accent. (We started with a sparkling round of Sassetta Spritzs.)

And then there’s the main event: pizza. Think oyster mushrooms, baby kale, mozzarella, and Calabrian chilies on a thin, supple but not limp crust, with a lightly blistered edge. More than a year was spent perfecting that crust to achieve the ideal flavor profile, flexibility, and transportability. (Yes, it holds up the next day.)

And though we were full by the time dessert menus hit the table, we made room. If you don’t already know the Italian word for pudding, one spoonful of roasted banana budino and you won’t soon forget it.

The Details: Sassetta, 1615 Hi Line Drive. Currently serving dinner and bar service only, the spot will soon open its bar area early for café-style breakfast and lunch. Current hours: Sunday through Thursday, 5–10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 5 p.m.–11 p.m