A hip deli and self-proclaimed “neighborhood joint” opened its doors Wednesday to bring deli sandwiches, Sicilian pizza and cocktails to Dupont Circle.
Sorellina – “little sister” in Italian – is the second location of Emissary, the coffee shop by day, bar by night across the street. Inside, the two sister restaurants look nearly identical, but the two shops have unique offerings.
Sorellina serves traditional deli options like sandwiches made with pastrami or mortadella and has a counter topped with pre-made salads and pastas, but Sorellina distinguishes itself with its out-of-the-box cocktail list and hearty breakfast sandwiches served nearly all day.
Just a few steps into the restaurant and customers will be greeted by friendly staff and a case filled with an assortment of grab-and-go dishes like Brussels sprouts, roasted cauliflower salad and pasta salad that can be purchased by the pound.
Along with items at the deli counter, Sorellina has sandwiches for all times of day like the Freddy ($12) with pastrami, fried egg, gruyere, sauerkraut and a “kind of secret” sauce all on marbled rye, and the Lynn ($10) with a salami, pepperoni and mortadella sandwich topped with provolone, iceberg lettuce, tomato, onion and house vinaigrette on a soft sub roll. Each sandwich can be turned into a chopped salad for another $2 or stacked onto a local Bullfrog Bagel for an extra dollar.
The subterranean space is narrow, but even though it sits slightly below street level, it comes across as open and airy with mostly white furniture, brick walls and large windows at the front of the store letting the sun shine in.
On the left side of the restaurant, there are nearly a dozen bar-style seats and on the right side, Sorellina offers more traditional booth seating at marbled tabletops. On a warm Saturday afternoon, the shop was busy with nearly every seat full – even after prime lunch hours.
I opted for the Carolina ($12), Sorellina’s version of a chicken parmesan sandwich with salsa rossa – a bright sun-dried tomato and pepper sauce – fresh mozzarella and provolone cheese on a sub roll. The spiciness of the sauce paired perfectly with the lightly breaded chicken and gooey cheeses, while the toasted roll was crunchy and soaked up the sauce without getting soggy.
I also snuck a couple bites of my friend’s Giulia ($11), which piles gravlax salmon, smoked caper cream cheese, red onion, tomato and cucumber high atop a bagel of your choice. The bagel itself was soft and chewy with salted, thick-cut salmon, smoked caper schmear and fresh veggies. Each sandwich is also served with a large juicy pickle spear.
At any time of day, you can order from the deli’s cocktail menu that has classic beer and wine options and out-of-the-box cocktails. The il madrina ($9) mixes biscotti liqueur, scotch and San Pellegrino, while the shop also has pinot grigio by the glass for $7 or bottle for $27.
Past 9 p.m., Sorellina has special late-night dishes like the il oaxaceno ($11), a chicken mole torta, and the il cubano ($11), a grill-pressed sandwich made with ham, salami, gruyere, pickles and mustard.
For a new neighborhood spot just a short walk from campus, Sorellina will serve you classic deli sandwiches and unconventional cocktails.