ABINGTON - Any good chef takes pleasure in great food, but Chef Andrea Schnell takes it to another level. In Andrea's kitchen it's part cooking, and part concert.
"Everyone knows I'm here, because I'm usually singing. We listen to music prepping," she said. "We just jam and sell food."
At Sorelle Bar and Grille on Route 18 in Abington, Chef Andrea and her team are giving diners on the South Shore the exact kind of restaurant they are looking for. The place opened about a year ago, but for more than 50 years before that, it was a beloved red sauce Italian spot named Vin and Eddie's. Sorelle still offers some of those old school favorites, alongside plenty of more modern dishes.
"It's not just red sauce Italian, although we do have Chicken Parm and Meatballs and all those good things your grandma made, but we have different ingredients," Andrea said. "We try to locally source what we can, and we try to add some different things, different layers of ingredients, different techniques. So it's a little eclectic. It's different than your red sauce Italian."
Just like the menu is a mix of old and new, the 150-seat space itself also offers the best of both worlds.
"What we wanted to do was create a lounge vibe atmosphere over there, and then sort of a more quieter - somewhere you can take grandma, or on a date over here," Andrea described, pointing out the atmosphere. "So we kind of have the luxury of having two different spaces."
To start your meal at Sorelle, there are Wild Mushroom Arancini with Prosciutto and Mozzarella, and Crispy Fried Oysters with Chive-Lemon Crème Fraiche. However, if you want to stick with a comfort food classic, order the Meatballs. They are made from a family recipe, smothered in melted Provolone, and simmered in San Marzano Tomato Sauce.
"We hold them in our homemade marinara sauce, just let them sort of bathe themselves in that delicious red sauce. Then when an order comes in they just pop in the oven, melt the cheese, and it's delicious."
For an old school dish with a delicious new school twist, try the Crispy Point Judith Calamari tossed with Sweet Chili Vinaigrette, Toasted Almonds, Pickled Red Onions, and Arugula.
"You're obviously gonna get the crispy, delicious calamari, but then you're gonna get the crunchiness of the almonds, the pepperiness of the arugula, the sort of bright, acidic, pickled red onions," Andrea listed. "All of those flavors balance, and kind of give you an exciting bite each time."
When it comes to entrees, there is a Grilled 14-Ounce Angus Sirloin, a beautiful Oven Roasted Atlantic Cod, and hand-tossed pizzas baked up in a brick oven.
Any great Italian restaurant needs to serve an outstanding Bolognese, and Sorelle's version definitely satisfies.
"We braise lamb and pork and beef short rib with tomatoes, and we use red wine, and then we obviously have the carrots and onions in there, served over our fresh pappardelle. You're gonna feel warm; you're gonna feel comfort; you're gonna say, 'this is not what I expected, but this is delicious," Andrea said.
If you swear by an awesome Chicken Parm, check theirs out. It is enormous, and delicious, smothered in mozzarella and marinara, and served atop a mountain of linguine. While some chefs might scoff at serving such a mainstream meal, Andrea is proud to give her customers what they want.
"I pay homage to the fact that this was a really great old school Italian restaurant for a long time, so we certainly have those patrons that come in for Chicken Parm, and we're gonna give it to them."
In the spirit of giving people what they want, Andrea made sure to have a burger on the menu too. Her version is topped with melted fontina, roasted mushrooms, and crispy shallots.
The hits just keep coming at dessert, with tempting treats like Caramelized Pineapple Bread Pudding, Fresh filled Cannoli with homemade shells, and a unique and delicious Pistachio Cheesecake recipe passed down from Andrea's mom.
"Just one of those things that reminded me of growing up in the Italian kitchen with my mom," she said. "We have a white chocolate pistachio glaze on top, fresh berries, a little whipped cream," she listed. "It's really the most popular dessert we have here now, which was a delightful surprise to me."
Whether you want to stick with the classics, or taste something new, Chef Andrea is happy to oblige.
"This restaurant is for everybody. It's not just for foodies, although hopefully foodies can find something interesting on the menu."
As long as customers are singing the praises about her restaurant, Andrea and her team will keep on singing too.
You can find Sorelle at 1400 Bedford Street in Abington, and online at sorrelleabington.com.
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