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Wood-fired pizza place and wine bar from John McLean, who also owns Burger Bar next door.

Our Review

At Sono Wood Fired, chef John McLean, owner as well of Burger Bar next door, keeps things simple: lots of wine, antipasti, bruschetta, some salads, three pasta dishes, and of course, pizza, "80 percent" of it all, a server informed us, coming out of the 1,000-degree tiled wood-burning oven into a small room that has waitstaff stumbling on table legs between the tables and the bar. Over small plates of crumbly, dry polenta crostini and cannellini beans with olive oil, I became convinced of something I only suspected back in the Burger Bar. What might be interpreted as an authentically Tuscan light touch with salt is simply institutional overrestraint in almost everything—including the centerpiece pizzas, which are built in rossa and bianco varieties on a thin, dry Neapolitan crust that you can sense getting drier by the second. The white pizzas are almost custardy—a clam pie is blanketed with béchamel, and a braised fennel-topped one is caked with mascarpone and goat cheese. Red pies are dressed in simple parcooked tomato, its blandness sometimes brightened by sheets of hot soppressata or the incendiary pork sausage. The pork sausage also appeared in the best thing I tried, sadly not a pie but an ample plate of orecchiette and spinach; you may or may not get off on the sensation of eating the pasta maker's thumbprint (I did). Among the antipasti there's a terrific shareable, chunky eggplant caponata, which comes with three thick chunks of oven-toasted bread. At $5 it's a terrific value, certainly better than the $3-per-piece selection of bruschetta built on the same bread.

Mike Sula

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Price: $$
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