Dinner of Il Sogno

In Food on 05/21/2010 at 2:44 pm

Met with two friends last night at Il Sogno, a restaurant opened as part of the Pearl Brewery revitalization project.  I had read some reviews online mentioning terrible service and long waits but all revealed the food was excellent.  We met at 6 on a Thursday evening, technically when they opened, although the door did not actually yawn unlocked until almost 6:15.  The building itself is small; the dining area is L-shaped with an outdoor patio in the elbow.  Tables filled up quickly and water was brought immediately to our table, directly followed by a waiter with a platter of lemon, lime, orange or grapefruit for the water.  Worth noting, the water server was VERY on top of the agua situation.  None of glasses ever got close to half empty.


Our waiter was knowledgeable, although a little too quiet for the volume level of the room.  We ordered wine individually; he knew which of the options I proposed were the driest, and eagerly submitted to another’s request to sample a different wine than ordered, including bringing her another glass.  An antipasti bar is against one wall.  We ordered one large plate for the table to share, requesting the waiter create for us.  I appreciated his inquiry as to preferences/ allergies (minimal cheese please!).  He returned with a plate of lightly pickled beets, white bean mousse, fennel, grilled eggplant & zucchini strips, artichoke hearts with red onion, melba toast style crackers and square bread cuts sporting a muted sweet glazed top.  Everything was prepared for optimal flavor of the food itself and even things I do not normally enjoy were palatable due to under emphasis on additional seasoning.

The menu itself was a bit redundant, although I do not know how often it changes or if the kitchen creates its menu around items ordered.  Asparagus was featured quite a bit which limited my choices a tad.  I ordered one of two specials for the evening, wild boar atop fettuccini.  Especially pleasing was the absence of cream sauce accompanying the fettuccini.  I have always wondered why it is impossible to get this type of pasta sans creamy; now I know it is not.  The dish was minimal, the boar in pulled pork style and noodles.  It did come with a sprinkling of freshly grated Parmesan cheese originally, which was absent from my plate per request.  The meat was tender and featured very little fat.  It was slightly sweet and rustic, paired well with the dry red wine.  My only negative comment was the dish was lacking a secondary flavor between the meat and pasta.  Perhaps this was the purpose of the cheese.  Ultimately, I appreciated the unpretentious flavors and simplicity of quality ingredients and preparation.

We chatted for a while and were never rushed or hovered over.  Dessert menus appeared after a respectful pause between plate clearing.  Several items looked delicious (Nutella, crepes, lemon sauce) but we finished our wine, paid and vacated the seats.  The meal was expensive but combined with the skillfully crafted food, the helpful, precise staff, well-paired wine and a generally unfussy experience, Il Sogno is worth the price.  As for the existing internet reviews, I can see how the staff would get frazzled and forgetful once that place really starts going.  We went early and on a week day so staff calm was high, service impeccable.

Seafood fun fact: Shrimp can swim backwards.


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