First Look: Pizzeria Sorellina
Apis team opens casual sister restaurant
By Brandon Watson,
1:15PM, Wed. Jan. 25, 2017
The Hill Country may not be the first place most people would think of as a pizza mecca, but anyone who has ever been to Stanley’s Farmhouse Pizza or Pieous knows that the Oak Hill Y is a mystical mozzarella portal. Still, before last week’s opening of chef Taylor Hall’s Pizzeria Sorellina, pizza lovers didn’t have a reason to veer right.
The new concept shares a campus with Apis Restaurant & Apiary, the New American restaurant that has been lauded here and elsewhere, offering an everyday counterpoint to its special occasion sister. Suitably, the atmosphere is much more relaxed. Long community tables and simple spindle chairs provide the seating, the walls are simply adorned with stills from their farm managers Tina and Orion Weldon's property, and paper plates and towels sub for pottery and napkins.
But chefs Hall and Adam Brick promise the same careful sourcing and commitment to detail as Apis next door. In the spring, they will take that one step further, planting their own wheat and raising livestock in a sustainable cycle that will give them greater control over what they put into their food. For now, the food obsession level is only turned up to 11 with salumi (spanning from finocchiona to coppa) marinated and aged on-site from Hapgood Ranch wild boar and sourdough made from various varieties of heirloom wheat from Barton Springs Mill. The salads, using escarole, butter lettuce, and coraline chicory, are accessible but gently nudge at convention with ingredients like Chinese pecan, dill pollen, and smoked swordfish "bagna cauda."
Things get even more intense when it comes to the actual pizza. Each yeastless sourdough uses a 10-year-old starter made with tam 105, fuller, and turkey red wheat flours milled under the guidance of Barton Springs Mill's owner James Brown, developing over three days. The wood-fired pies range from classics like margherita and bianco that can be topped with anything from castelvetrano olives to speck to signatures like a roasted fennel pie with honey, dry olive, and preserved lemon agro dolce and a n'duja pizza with Calabrian chile, salumi, and stracciatella. The maitake mushroom works for cooler Hill Country nights, using wild boar ham and fried rosemary on a base of taleggio and fermented and dried shiitake cream.
For dessert, Sorellina offers hazelnut ice cream with tart green apple and sheets of lemon leaf meringue as well as a preserved citrus ricotta tart topped with a blood orange and rose sorbet. And the bar is stocked with a curated list of Italian varietals by the glass or bottle, a greatest hits selection of mostly local beers, and two draft cocktails – the bourbon-based Caught Red Handed and the Gin Rosso showcasing house bitters.