Il Sogno

It was my first birthday in Texas. I would normally be in New York or New Jersey and my parents would come into the city or I would go home to Raritan to celebrate and there would always be an Italian restaurant involved. Unfortunately, I moved my ass out here to Austin and sadly couldn't be with my parents which left me pretty bummed. Fortunately, my surrogate and second family lives an hour away in San Antonio so I packed up to go spend my 25th birthday with Jackie and the Dizinnos.

After a birthday eve night of sandwiches, an entire bottle of Riesling (which Jack only had half a glass by the way), and a slew of Zach Galifianakis' "Between Two Ferns," we woke up to do my birthday lunch the only way I know how- Italian style.

Il Sogno in San Antonio:

A fancy little Italian place in the Pearl Brewery which also houses the new home of the Culinary Institute of America. This Italian food was executed flawlessly and the attention to detail was extraordinary. The service was incredible and subtle.

When do you get offered a citrus platter with your water to choose from orange, grapefruit, lemon, or lime? Seriously and when do you eat food that looks like this?

The antipasti bar and prosecco. We had the server choose his favorites from the antipasti bar which included braised red bell pepper with rosemary, an apple, onion, and fennel salad, artichoke and white beans, wild rice with raisins, and caprese with pinenuts and capers. This was exactly how an Italian meal should be: showcasing the flavor of the ingredients. It was nothing fancy. It was just flavors enhancing others flavors so that they all could shine.

Complimentary white bean puree with house made foccacia... 

... and all of our fresh pasta dishes. Mine with saffron cream sauce, mussels, shrimp, and pancetta. Holy grandmothers of Italy- the sauce was never overpowering and the mussels were creamy and meaty and the shrimp had some serious bite. Although mine was the voted favorite, we also had some pulled wild boar with spaghetti and pesto, tagliatelle and meatballs, and bucatini with squid and shrimp.

It didn't end there. I'm usually not a fan of tiramisu but this tiramisu- I could eat it at any time of day that you put it in front of me. It was subtle coffee flavor, light mascarpone, and fluffy cake. Dare I mention the Americano with a choice of regular sugar, raw sugar cubes, or house infused vanilla bean sugar? Perfetto.

I had a birthday to remember. I miss my family terribly but looking back on my 25 years I feel that coming to Austin has really rounded it out. If I didn't, I'd be safely on my way to a quarter-life crisis. Instead I feel like I'm celebrating and building a foundation for the next 25.

All I really have to say to that is salut!