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On July 13, The Sosta, a fast-casual Italian restaurant, officially opened in New York City’s Nolita neighborhood. The team includes co-founder & creative director Samantha Wasser (by CHLOE.), along with co-founder and executive chef Ali LaRaia.
Borrowing its name from the Italian word meaning, “break,” The Sosta plays on the idea of a well-deserved break, and breaking bread over a great meal. With inspiration from Ali’s travels, including road-tripping all over Italy from coast to coast, and the bountiful cuisines that are offered throughout the regions, the restaurant focus is on whole, fresh, and authentic ingredients; all of which are reflective in the branding and design of the restaurant.
“As funny as it sounds, I fell in love with the gas station “autogrills,” which served the most amazing simple food when I was road tripping all over Italy,” says Ali LaRaia, executive chef of The Sosta, “but when I came back to New York City, I realized nothing like it existed. That’s where the idea started forming, to have a restaurant with a focus on simple, fresh, quality Italian food and wine, with pastas, sandwiches, and snacks, that also happen to be offered at an affordable price point.”
The menu at The Sosta features house-made fresh pastas and sauces, sandwiches, salads, antipasti boards, and sides. Fresh pastas include: Spaghetti Pomodoro with tomato, garlic, basil; Bucatini Arrabbiata with cherry tomato, hot cherry pepper, parsley; Zucca Vodka with tomato, caramelized onion, vodka, cream, basil; Campanelle Pesto with basil, garlic, parmigiana-reggiano, pignoli nut, red pepper; and Paccheri Bolognese with beef, pancetta, carrot, thyme, rosemary, and milk. Gluten-free and zucchini noodles are also available. The house-made dried pastas and sauces are also available for purchase to take home. Every day, fresh focaccia is baked in-house for the sandwiches, with options including Pancetta with pancetta onion jam, mozzarella, arugula; Caprese with house-made mozzarella, raw tomato sauce, basil; Sicilian Tuna with green goddess Sicilian tuna, celery and giardiniera. Salads are available, including Caesar with radicchio blend, focaccia croutons, parmigiano-reggiano, and lemon Caesar dressing; Verde with green goddess Sicilian tuna, radicchio blend, cannellini bean, grape tomato, parsley, basil, red onion, Kalamata olive and champagne vinaigrette.
Sides featured include Chicken Meatballs; Beef & Pork Meatballs; Roasted Cauliflower with Calabrian chili vinaigrette; spreads of Truffle Gorgonzola; Eggplant Caponata; and more.For those with a sweet tooth, there is a rotating selection of Italian cookies available—Ali once owned and operated the successful cookie company Mirianberry Cookies. Cookies include Almond Biscotti, Black Pepper Taralli, Milano, Sesame, Sprinkle, Mini Chocolate Chip, Florentine, Pistachio Lemon Biscotti, and more. And since there’s no trip to Italy without gelato, a selection of gelatos made in partnership with East
Village’s Fresco Gelateria will rotate and include flavors such as Espresso, Fior di Latte, Nutella, Pistachio, Strawberry, and Lemon Basil Sorbet.The beverage program features two beers (Narragansett Lager, Nu Skool Citrus IPA) and four wines on tap, including a sparkling, white, rose, and red—all of which were hand-selected by Ali to complement the fare. Also worth noting is the coffee program, fueled by Williamsburg-based coffee roasters, Devocion, who created a custom coffee blend.
Exclusive to The Sosta is a Cascara soda made by Devocion, which is an all-natural ‘coffee fruit’ soda, full of antioxidants with tangy, molasses, tamarind flavors.
“Location was very important to us for our debut flagship location,” says Samantha Wasser, co-founder and creative director, “We knew we wanted to be in the Nolita neighborhood with its close proximity to the Little Italy but we’re excited to offer something different. We’re doing high-quality, fresh Italian food in a fast-casual setting. We wanted to create an intimate space where you can hang out, have lunch, dinner, or even drinks and snacks with friends.”
The 66-seat restaurant (40 indoors, 20 along the outdoor patio) was designed in collaboration with London-based firm Alexander Waterworth, with lead designer Alexander Evangelou. The vision of both Alexander and Samantha—along with Laureen Moyal of Paperwhite Studio who handled all of the branding—focuses on coastal Italy, with an upscale, yet casual airy vibe. The façade of the building has floor to ceiling oak woodwork with picture windows, offering a breeze from the bustling corner. Custom pieces are found throughout the restaurant, including the stools, brass light fixtures, as well as, a mix of marble and terrazzo tabletops. Anchoring the space is the main counterwhere guests place their orders, which features a custom pastel pink terrazzo countertop—the team went through more than a dozen samples before settling on the perfect pink. And just behind the counter, is a pink neon sign reading “Mangiamo Baby!” [“Let’sEat Baby”]—because it’s all about eating at The Sosta.