A while ago, many sororities, Michelle’s included, received coupons to try out the newly opened Sorriso Italiano. As a couple that has dated for way too long, we often run out of ideas for our next venture outside the well-known confines of FT. So when an opportunity like discounted Italian food just falls into our laps, we take it. With coupon in hand, we mustered up the courage to turn off Netflix, put on real clothes and begin our voyage to I.V.
The first thing we noticed upon walking into the restaurant is its apparent lack of an identity. Sorriso brands itself as a “fast-casual” I.V. eatery, but the first thing you see inside is a baby grand piano and a couch. That’s right, this medium sized I.V. restaurant is using up about a quarter of its floor space on a couch and piano that nobody seems to touch. There are bold colors on the walls along with large, bright and vibrant paintings in the well-lit dining room. Yet, each table has its own candle and doily placemat, causing conflicting ideas of modern, fast-casual dining and classic Italian refinement.
This identity crisis, however, doesn’t just end with the decor. We went up to the counter and ordered a pepperoni pizza, Caesar salad and “Meat Sauce” pasta with sausage. We found a table and only then realized there was just one other group present: sorority girls who also had a coupon. The owner came by with bread and we dove in. It’s hard to go wrong with bread, so although it was nothing to write home about, we enjoyed it and remained hopeful for the rest of the meal.
The next portion of the meal was salad, specifically Caesar. This classic was basic and did the trick. At this point, we were still open-minded and optimistic. We wanted to be impressed and we thought it could happen. Our pizza and pasta came simultaneously since we were going halvesies. The pizza seemed to have potential, but the results were disappointing. Instead of a traditional pie or the now-trendy flatbread, Sorriso opted for some kind of in-between. The pizza came out as some kind of doughy, amorphous glob that was seriously undercooked and, even more seriously, lacked in flavor. A special kind of sadness enveloped me when I bit into the pizza and tasted mostly dough, and sauce that had cooled to a disappointing coldness halfway through our meal really added to that disappointing element.
As for the pasta, it was basically a curly, noodle-y parallel of the pizza. It got cold much too fast and did not make up for it with taste. The restaurant tried to compensate for quality with quantity, but it just didn’t do it for us. It was large, but that was all it had going for it, and this lack of creativity was compounded by a general lack of flavor in the sauce and especially in the sausage. Once again, and rather strangely so, the pasta was lukewarm and didn’t taste fresh. Without making any unfounded accusations, it seemed as though it had been made en masse earlier in the day and then reheated — and not even completely so. Poor strategy, but who are we to complain about our nearly free meal?
Now, before we conclude, it would probably be good to explain that we are way into Italian food — like waaaaay into Italian food. We love it, and a new spot for dates is something we’re always in the market for. Not to say that we have any claim to snobbery or expertise; we can appreciate the quick and easy right alongside the slow and traditional. This may not be the cause of our objectively bad experience, admittedly, but more a result of our reckless excitement and high expectations as avid fans rather than connoisseurs. Ultimately, it was impossible for us to walk away from Sorriso feeling anything but disappointment. While the location and affordability of the restaurant cannot be denied, the restaurant’s quality is lacking, and it has yet to find its identity. As of now, Sorriso tries to be cheap, quick and convenient while maintaining a classical quality and style to the detriment of both business models. Sorriso, we would love nothing more than a new Italian spot, so when you figure out what you want to be, we’ll be back with empty stomachs and open minds.
— Evan and Michelle are first-time restaurant reviewers, either solo or together. The opinions expressed are their own and do not reflect those held by the Daily Nexus.