hittingthesauce

“If more of us valued food and cheer above hoarded gold, it would be a much merrier world.” ― J.R.R. Tolkien

Sugo Caffe Italia – With the Three Amigos

It was that time again – girls’ night with my two favourite amigos, Michelle and Julia. I suggested we try Borgo, but Michelle vetoed the idea. She needed more time to forget the fiasco that occured when the 3 of us attempted to last dine there (see Amber Alert, 2012). Instead, Michelle pitched Sugo, her neighbourhood haunt. Julia concurred – Sugo was also her preference. Truth be told, I’ve never been to Sugo because of the negative reviews on Urbanspoon. However, it was two against one, so off we were to Sugo. Good thing too – had the girls not persuaded me, I would have missed out on this Inglewood gem. Sugo turned out to be one of the most underrated restaurants on Urbanspoon.

The interior of the restaurant was clean, simple and elegant, inviting with its rich brown colours and cozy lights. I love the enormous wine wall at the back of the room. It makes my 10 wine rack wall look positively puny. Let’s just say that I now believe in love at first sight.

Our night started off to a fun and educational start. The girls couldn’t decide on a bottle, so our fabulous server – Scott (previously from Gnocchi), brought over 3 bottles for us to sample. We ended picking his favourite wine, Zenato Ripasso, a value packed Italian red.

At this point, the booze was free flowing. We enjoyed 3 wine tastings, plus a flute of champagne. So it was good timing on Scott’s part to bring on the complimentary bread. Personally, I think Sugo should charge for their bread.  It was soft and tasted like it was homemade. The butter whipped into a light, sweet, garlicky concoction. While our wine was decanting, we munched on Julia’s favourite appetizer – wild mushroom bruschetta ($8.00). The mushrooms weren’t the usual button variety, but an exotic medley. I’m not familiar with the varieties– some shrooms were tiny, perfectly formed fungi while others took on a flat shape.  Nonetheless, the mushrooms were silky smooth and cool on the tongue, dressed in a very light oil (truffle oil?). Topped off with grana padano shavings, this dish whet our appetite and left us wanting more.

Next up was the white gold Fior di Latte ($13.00). These cheesy balls were deep-fried, delicately seasoned and juicy. When I bit into it, some of the liquid squirted on my dress. Next time I’ll remember to wear a bib. I like the sauce that drizzled underneath– it was either a balsamic or some pomegranate reduction, it tasted a bit like jam.

Our last little appetizer was cured duck with crostini. The presentation was lovely – each piece of duck was curved into a semi-circle. The meat was rich and tasty, and not at all fatty.

For our mains, we picked the baked monkfish and prawns ($31), gnocchi with beef and pork meatballs ($22) and my favourite dish of the night, Casareccia ($19). The monkfish was a bit salty, but it was baked to a perfect flakiness. The prawns were massive in size, cooked just until they had a delicate crunch. I loved how they weren’t overly covered in a sauce or seasoning so we could enjoy the natural taste of the prawn. The accompanying vegetables were much more than a side dish, they could easily stand on their own. The vegetables tasted like they were garden fresh, a colourful mix of young carrots, baby potatoes, slender asparagus stalks, orange peppers and cubes of turnip and light pink beets. The vegetables were tossed with roughly chopped olives and fat black capers.

The pastas were very rich and filling. The gnocchi was cut into small pieces.  It had wonderful consistency, it was chewy yet soft. The meatballs were a flavourful blend of beef and pork and a hint of mint. The red sauce worked well in this dish. It was simple but brought the gnocchi and meatballs together.

The noodles in the Casareccia were shaped between a screw and a sipping straw. The smell of the bacon was amazing, but the taste was even better. The creamy rose sauce was very rich, heavy on the garlic, with a nice heat. The pasta came with lots of bacon and slices of button mushrooms.

At the end of the night, we were too full to have dessert, but we will have to return for another dinner. Julia has her eye on the pistachio crème brulee while Michelle loves anything chocolate. We’ll most likely come on a Wednesday, when Scott is working. Thank you Michelle, for a wonderful dinner. Sugo was a decadent dining experience that I can’t wait to relive.

Sugo Caffe Italia on Urbanspoon

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