This is probably one of the last posts I’ll be doing on Calgary for a few months or so, until I get back in town. J and I had a Groupon of his to use up before I left so we made it down to Il Sogno on the first day that we could. Buying a Groupon (20 for 40) was a bit of a pain because the restaurant is only open for lunch during weekdays so we had to find a day where J got off work early to be able to go.
Once inside, we were pretty surprised by the interior: cool, dark, marble floors, ornate wood-paneled ceilings, a heavy bar, gilded mirrors and tall curtained windows. The following picture might give you a feel for the place. And if not, hit the jump to get a feel for the food.
The bread arrived first, and hurrah because who doesn’t like bread? With it came a garlic and thyme pat of butter which was light, airy and surprisingly not so overpowering that the garlic killed the thyme. The bread was warm, crusty and soft. Mmm.
Next came our appetizer: calamari, served in a cherry tomato and black olive sauce (12.95). Although we had declined to order the dish with an onion loaf (an extra dollar) our server offered us extra bread so that we could enjoy the sauce, and I thought that was good service indeed. She could have chosen to leave us with what pretty much became soup at the end so I thought her suggestion was rather considerate. The calamari itself was tender and not chewy; surprising because it was served in a steaming sauce (and with past experience I’ve found that calamari can get pretty rubbery in restaurants when served with sauce and/or not deep fried). The sauce was flavourful and very tasty, despite me not having yet acquired a taste for black olives.
Our main dishes came soon after; in fact, the service was really good about clearing away our dishes quickly without making us feel rushed at any point during the meal. J ordered the orrechiette, which consisted of ground beef and pork in a bolognese sauce (14.95). Although the sauce was definitely tasty and the beef decently cooked, the pasta itself was pretty rubbery and chewy. J found the pasta to be overly al dente and it rather diminished the value of the dish for him.
My ricotta gnocchi, made with sautéed mushrooms, watercress and truffle essence (13.95) was, however, pretty delightful. The gnocchi was light and fluffy, the truffle essence was for the first time NOT overpowering and the mushrooms… well, I always find mushrooms lovely. Seriously. I cannot emphasize to you how important it is that restaurants don’t overdo the truffle flavour for the sake of making it feel like something expensive. And gnocchi. Dagnabbit, J and I both went after that gnocchi because it felt so light despite being pretty much all potato. Neither dishes were obviously oily, and the only real criticism I had against my dish was that the watercress appeared to be fresh and therefore added a bitter tinge to the overall flavour. This wasn’t entirely a bad thing, but it was the first time I’ve had fresh watercress (usually I have it in soup or cooked somewhat).
Both dishes contained a surprising amount of pasta; that is to say, we were both pretty full by the end of our meal. In fact, I had to ask J to help me finish the gnocchi, because there was almost too much goodness in my tummy. We did wait a while for the bill to come around but other than that the experience was quite enjoyable.
No. 24 – 4th.Street NE
Calgary, AB T2E 3R7
Pros: Mostly tasty food, good portion sizes and very friendly and competent service. Dining here makes you feel pretty affluent.
Cons: Unfortunately if you’re going to be dining here often you’d have to be pretty affluent. I’d come here for a treat, the way the prices are. The hours also make it a little difficult for people to come in on the weekends when they might be more available. They seem to be low on front staff so you might wait a little while, but this isn’t entirely a bad thing if you’ve come to enjoy the atmosphere and a friend or two.
If you’re looking for a special Italian location that serves something other than heavy creamy pasta, come here for some lighter, better taste.