|Housed in the historic de Waal building, Il Sogno is one of my favourite restaurants in Calgary for its beautiful and soothing décor, impeccable service, fresh ingredients and superb pairing of food.
Dining there is an experience and an event in itself. By the latter, I mean that dinner at Il Sogno is an all-night affair that endures for hours, each course to be slowly savoured and given reflection. If you have dinner reservations at Il Sogno (24 - 4th St. N.E.; phone 232-8901), you can forget dinner and a movie well, you might be able to make the late show.
And unlike other restaurants, Il Sogno asks not "How are your meals?" but rather "How are the flavours?" A question that rings of both pretentiousness and charm.
A foodie in the city recently sung its praises for brunch, and having only eaten there for dinner, I was curious to see how its flavours fared at this mid-morning meal. After a big, rich dinner the night before at Brava Bistro, I was not in the mood for a heavy, long drawn-out brunch, but Il Sogno surprised me on both counts. The restaurant hosts brunch on Sundays from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., and we arrived there this past rainy Sunday to a quiet and relaxed mood, sharing the elegant space with only five other tables.
Neapolitan Chef Giuseppe Di Gennaro presents a light and reasonably priced à la carte brunch. Still coming out of the previous nights fog of hard lemonade and wine, I passed on the alcoholic beverage, but the prosecco and peach juice bellini did look summery and refreshing (glass, $7; bottle, $35). We began with a basket of freshly baked breads multigrain, chocolate, and fig and anise with a lovely homemade apple and apricot marmalade ($6.95). My favourite was the warm chocolate bread (as was our waiters, who admitted that hed been caught a time or two with his hand in the chocolate bread basket).
For my meal, I selected two baked crêpes flattened and triangular-shaped filled with goat cheese and prosciutto, finished in brown butter, sage, grana padano and maple glaze, and sprinkled with sprouts ($13.95). Indeed, the pairing of sweet and earthy flavours made for a very fine dish. My friend chose the "uova in purgatorio." But how ironic that the eggs in purgatory should be rather heavenly. A sort of egg lasagna, the baked eggs were accompanied by a cherry tomato sauce, pancetta and melted bocconcini with fresh basil ($10.95).
The other dishes that caught my eye were the charbroiled wild boar sausages with smoked provolone, sweet pepper marmalade and vin cotto; basted eggs with sautéed organic baby spinach and gran padano; and the zucchini Italian omelet with thyme and mild provolone.
Sufficiently and pleasantly sufficed, we had to pass on dessert, specifically the "triology" of miniature desserts and petits fours, the crisp cat tongue cookies, and the buttermilk and vanilla bean pudding with cranberry shortbread and rhubarb-orange consommé.
Brunch at Il Sogno was delightful and relaxing. We were not held hostage by a multitude of endurance-testing courses, and after a meal that lasted just under an hour, we still had time to catch a Sunday matinée.