Italian elegance meets southern U.S. charm at New York-based firm Meyer Davis’s latest project. Situated in downtown Charleston, Sorelle is more than just a restaurant: three historic townhouses have been revamped to house a central bar, wine room, mercato, separate pizza and pasta counters, and grand dining room.
The contemporary southern Italian cuisine gets its twist via ingredients from South Carolina’s low country, and Meyer Davis carried this fusion of cultures into the space’s design. The firm, which has a prestigious James Beard award, layers patterns and opulent materials, like mohair velvet, marble, and leather, and embraces skilled craftmanship with intricate millwork and stonework and by preserving the building’s original moulding and trim. Expansive windows frame Broad Street where Sorelle sits.
On the first floor, the mercato centres around a U-shaped Arabescato Corchia bar with an illuminated gunmetal gantry overhead and warm honey oak millwork and chevron flooring. On the walls, white venetian plaster over brick adds dimension and a timeless feel. At the pizza bar upstairs, tantalizing bites are cooked up in the striking midnight-blue-tiled wood-fired pizza oven, which diners can watch from the Calacatta Monet marble bar with fluted edges that curves around it.
The crown jewel of the sprawling eatery is the sophisticated but unstuffy grand dining room, which adds contemporary flare to the Venetian design tradition of lavish maximalism. A hand-painted grey forest-themed wallpaper by MJ Atelier spans four walls, contrasting with red-and-cream carpeting. Curved camel-coloured leather banquettes pull up to marble-topped tables alongside jewel-toned mohair velvet chairs. The room is embellished by the original hand-painted moulding and trim, and two fireplaces create a cozy atmosphere for days full of good food and good company that stretch late into the evening.
Photography by Peter Frank Edwards.