Wednesday, March 25, 2009

A Special Hillside Place

With so few restaurants displaying consistency in both quality and service, Poggio* in Sausalito, CA, features Northern Italian cuisine and shines like a beacon. The menu changes daily and uses local ingredients as well as those imported from Itlay.

Location: There are places reminiscent of Sausalito, but nowhere beats the real thing. Proudly sitting on the main strip of the Marin County hamlet, Bridgeway Drive, the view of the hills and the light sea breeze make it a very special place.

Ambiance: In this beautifully designed Italian trattoria you feel like you are going out to dinner without the common trying too hard swank. Although the restaurant has a sprawling floor-plan, Poggio maintains an inviting coziness. It’s dignified, elegant, and cozy all the the same time. It's a place you would be proud to take your parents when they come to visit. Come dressed as an Italian mobster or a hippie from Santa Cruz–either way, it works.

Complimentary sparking water: A welcoming touch that I enjoy each time.

Drink: I love my wine. However it was another stunner of a day in SF, and a festive cocktail seemed in order.

Two Bridgeway Lemonades, please.

The citrus infused vodka and fresh squeezed lemonade was exactly what we should have been drinking at a sidewalk table for two, at dusk, in Sausalito, on a Wednesday evening.



Bread and butter: In a word, it’s happiness.

If you have a don't-fill-up-on-bread rule now is the time to make an exception. Warm rosemary, sage, sesame, and sourdough bundles of joy sit on your table longing to be one with the perfectly salted butter. As the two lovers melt into each other, they create the appropriate introduction to the meal that lies ahead.

Antipasti 1: Oak-grilled squid on a bed of bright, green arugula speckled with sweet, plump baby, baby tomatoes and white beans. “Oak-grilled”- need I say more?

Antipasti 2: Three tender, tasty lamb meatballs nestled in a small iron dish that looks like it was patiently cooked in a wood-burning oven. The meatballs lay in a lush marinara sauce shrouded with whisps of bell peppers. Impossible to not relish this dish.

Elisa’s entrée: Margarita pizza–tomato, fresh mozzarella, basil, olive oil. Almost perfect. The only thing missing–garlic.

Dominic’s entrée: Ceppo “alla amatriciana”- strips of pancetta provide a natural saltiness to the slender tubes of fresh pasta perfectly prepared in tomato sauce. Onions, chile, and pecorino romano accent this dish. Utterly satisfying.

Dessert: Miraculously we managed this last course. Vanilla Bavarian cake with mixed berries. A fluffy, moist vanilla cake set the foundation for this four layer delight. Next a sparkling berry melange was delicately nestled in a bed of luscious whipped cream. The final layer of spongy cake was topped with a dollop of whipped, creamy sweetness. It was a refreshing finale to the meal.

End mood: Hand in hand we stroll out two very happy people.

* The name Poggio is translated from Italian to mean 'a special hillside place'.

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