Best Of

Best New Restaurant


click to enlarge Best New Restaurant
Young Kwak photos
Sorella serves tasty pasta in a pretty setting.

My friend texted me a few weeks ago: "I've been wanting to try that new restaurant in Kendall Yards with the pictures. What's it called again?"

I knew what she was talking about immediately. She was thinking of the gorgeous, golden gallery wall in Sorella, Lauren Blumenthal's new Italian restaurant on the east end of Summit Parkway's shopping and dining strip.

Because even if you've never been inside, you know how beautiful Sorella is just from glancing through the windows. It's memorable to passersby and Inlander readers alike, who voted Sorella the best restaurant that opened in the past year.

"I had waited so long to open that I was just so anxious to get people in," Blumenthal says. "The only thing I cared about was opening the doors. I knew I put my best foot forward and poured my entire heart and soul into that place. I truly believed that whatever was supposed to happen with it would happen. I'm lucky enough that it has been so successful. It truly has exceeded any and all expectations."

It's not just luck that has kept the reservation book full. There's the thoughtfulness of the decor — handpicked, thrifted glassware and wall hangings glittering over the perfect shade of teal green. There's the thoughtfulness of the menu, which offers a variety of price points for different meals — salads for under $10, pastas for under $20, entrees under $50, and a steak that goes for over $100 for a really special occasion.

And there's the thoughtfulness of Blumenthal, who seats many of the guests herself — always relaxed and poised, the perfect hostess quickly putting guests at ease.

"I've done almost every role there is to do [in a restaurant] leading up to this point," she says. "I don't think that just because I opened a place of my own that that should stop. It gives me an opportunity to have a personal experience with the guest, for one. And two, I think it opens up the opportunity for the staff to trust me more."

Through the exhaustion of a restaurant's first year, Blumenthal worked to keep herself inspired by experimenting with new ideas to improve guest and staff experiences.

"I think it's like any serious relationship or parenting — it's not going to be all good all the time," she says. "But at the end of the day it's the most rewarding thing I've ever done and continue to do."

With such immediate success, some restaurateurs might start dreaming about new projects or possibilities. But Blumenthal isn't too hung up on the future.

"I think it's very healthy to have goals. If I didn't, I wouldn't be here," she says. "But I also think that people get very caught up in thinking too far ahead. I really do try my best to focus on the day to day — I'm really not worried about what happens tomorrow."

There is, however, something on her mind.

"Sorella will expand in its own way" is all Blumenthal will say.

2nd PLACE: House of Brunch
3rd PLACE: Zozo's Sandwich House
NORTH IDAHO'S BEST: Parallel 47, Hayden

Zero Waste Kitchen: Earth Day Edition @ Second Harvest

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