Visting Italy in downtown Richmond – via Enoteca Sogno

Most people know that I loved my experience in Piedmont Italy last year. I mean with fabulous wine, excellent food and a beautiful landscape that makes you hope that you never have to go home who wouldn’t love it.  Well Broad Street in downtown Richmond may not all of those, but it has a restaurant that definitely has two.  Enoteca Sogno is a small authentic Italian restaurant that seems to focus on the cuisine and wine of Northern Italy.  We had the pleasure of dining at Enoteca Sogno a couple of weeks ago with our friends Bryon and Leigh and had a quite enjoyable experience. Owner Gary was our server for the evening and knowing that I am a wine geek and thirst for information, was full of detailed explanations of all the wine and food that we enjoyed.


We started out with a couple of appetizers and a great Italian Riesling that was bone dry and extremely good. The 2006 Vajra Langhe Bianco paired perfectly with our two apps which were the crostini with white beans and arugula and the roasted red peppers and mozzarella.


For entrees we all shared the special ravioli of the day which was pumpkin in a brown butter sauce I believe. Megan and I shared the risotto of the day which is only offered on Tuesday’s and was made with wild mushrooms and truffle oil. Leigh had the whole roasted Braziano and Bryon had the gorgonzola gnocchi that he was gracious enough to share with us. All the dishes were fabulous as we paired them with the 2003 Cantina del Pino Barberesco. The wine had great dark fruit flavors interlaced with aromas of cranberry, toasted oak and mushroom with smooth integrated tannins.


After we were done with dinner and the restaurant was pretty much shut down for the evening, Gary shared a couple of bottles of Barolo with us. We enjoyed the 2003 Guido Porro Barolo from two different vineyards, both the Vigna Lazzairasco and the Vigna S. Caterina.  Holy crap these were good, but if I had to choose one the Lazzariasco was my favorite with more earth and mushroom flavors and aromas and slightly smoother tannin structure.


If you are fan of Italian food and great Italian wine, and of course live in the Richmond area, I would definitely recommend checking out Enoteca Sogno. Also I would like to say that Enoteca has some of the best restaurant wine prices I have ever seen with very little markup compared to the 100% plus that you usually see. For example, the 2003 Cantina del Pino Barberesco averages about $50 online and is offered for $70 in the restaurant.


Thanks Gary for the brief trip back to Italy, I hope to visit again soon.



Enoteca Sogno

2043 West Broad Street

Richmond VA 23220

Enoteca Sogno on Urbanspoon

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Verbena is no lemon!

Verbena is actually the name of a lemon or a type of lemon but it is also the name of a new restaurant here in Richmond, which was by no means a lemon in our opinion. After getting much fanfare from the local blog scene and traditional press, and seeing that they had a couple of yummy veggie options on their menu, Megan and I decided to check it out. So after we hit River City Cellars for their tasting we headed over to Verbena for dinner.

We had reservations for 6:30 but arrived about 10 minutes early and were seated with no problem. The restaurant had 4 or 5 tables already occupied and it seemed to have a few patrons upstairs at the lounge, although I didn’t check for myself. Our water glasses were promptly filled as our menus were dropped off at which time I immediately dove into the wine list. The wine list was nice, with fair pricing, not overly extensive with about 18 selections each of white and red, and a nice diverse mix to suite everyone’s palate. Our waitress came over and introduced herself and promptly started in on the specials, although we stopped her to let her know we were vegetarians so she didn’t have to go into her schpeell about the duck and foie gras. She did however let us know what the 3 vegetables would be in the ravioli trio as they change everyday. We ordered our wine which was the Vino Robles 2005 Petit Sirah from Paso Robles and she gave us a few minutes to peruse the menu and make our selections. Upon her return she brought some fabulous bread accompanied by a homemade olive tapanade that we quickly scarfed up after ordering our food.

What we ordered –

Appetizer – Saffron potato cakes – $6

Salad – Manakintowne mixed greens with dressing of the day, a blackberry thyme vinaigrette – $6

Entrée 1 – Trio of ravioli (2 with Shitake mushroom, 2 with Butternut squash and 2 with Spinach) – $16

Entrée 2 – Phyllo wrapped vegetable medley (stuffed with asparagus, carrots, and squash accompanied by a light tomato sauce – $16

Dessert – Pistachio cupcake topped with white chocolate icing, surrounded by a passion fruit puree – $6

Coffee – 2@$1.50

The restaurant was fine dining in its approach to food and service. They had attentive and skilled wait staff, beautiful silverware that was almost ergonomic in design, Schott Zwiesel glassware (you know I am sucker for nice stems), and a simple yet elegant dining room. At the same time, they were able to make the whole experience seem very casual and relaxed, which some fine dining establishments fail to do.

The saffron potato cakes were simply amazing – I wished there were 10 on the plate instead of two, lightly pan fried on the outside but soft on the inside, with the saffron providing an excellent flavor without being overwhelming. The salad was crisp and fresh, and the homemade blackberry thyme dressing was refreshing and almost palate-cleansing. Both the entrées were great. The ravioli were a perfect balance between tender and al dente, and were chock full of their individual ingredients (sweet potato, spinach & ricotta and shitake mushroom). There was no hide and seek with the veggies to where you couldn’t even tell what they were filled with. They were topped with a light cream sauce which, if I were at home, I would have been tempted to lick out of the bowl. The phyllo wrapped dish (actually the vegetarian version of their phyllo wrapped salmon) was equally as good as the ravioli. Jam packed with flavor, the richness of the phyllo played well with the lightly grilled and steamed vegetables (which were plentiful), tied together by a wonderful yet simple tomato sauce.

Accompanying all this was the Petit Sirah from Vino Robles winery.

My Tasting Notes

Nose – black currant, cedar, plum, caramel

Taste – thyme, blackberry, blueberry, date and cinnamon

Mouthfeel – med body, soft and smooth

Finish – medium length and black cherry flavors

The wine was good and very “rich”, with loads of dark fruit that didn’t taste like fake, Hi-C fruit. I might have preferred something with a little more earth and vegetal notes to go with the food, but the wines on the menu that would have given me that would have been too tannic and full-bodied, possibly overpowering the food. All in all it was a good choice and excellent sip that would also be good all by itself, and at $30 it fit the bill.

Last but not least were the desserts. As soon as we heard “pistachios” our ears perked up and we didn’t even have to think about which one we were ordering. The cupcake had ground pistachio in it and was topped with an uber creamy white chocolate icing and fresh whole raspberry, surrounded by an exotic passion fruit puree. The savory aspect of the pistachio balanced out the sweetness of the icing and the tartness of the puree very nicely. Accompanied with some good strong coffee, it was an excellent way to finish the meal.

With 20% tip we were just over a hundred smackers for dinner, which for the amount and quality of the food was not bad at all. Our experience was great as you can tell and we walked out wondering when we would treat ourselves to Verbena once again.

Verbena on Urbanspoon

Categories: restaurant review, Richmond, verbena, wine review | 5 Comments

Wine and Running

wine-and-barrel.jpg AND homer-running.jpg

So with the Suntrust Richmond Marathon happening tomorrow in town I thought I would write about wine and running. Obviously wine right before or during running serves no benefit and can actually be harmful to your body, but why would you want to reach for a bottle of wine during a race anyway. 🙂

There can in fact be some positive affects of wine on the cardiovascular system. Resveratrol (a compound found in wine) has been in the news a lot lately, mostly for its health benefits of reduced risk of heart disease, lower cholesterol, etc.. But in the same studies on mice and rats, Resveratrol was seen to give the animals increased endurance while running on a treadmill. So could drinking wine give you edge need to wine the race? Probably not, but having a glass or two the night before a race will most likely not hurt your performance. One exception though is if you are running a marathon or other extra long race. This is because wine and other alcoholic beverages has a natural diuretic effect and may cause pre-mature dehydration during a long race.


A quick reminder – after next week Anything Wine will be switching to a wordpress address. The new site will be (which is the site you are viewing currently). I am posting to both currently, but after next will stop on the blogspot site. Please switch any feeds or bookmarks you have for the old address. Thanks so much for continuing to read Anything Wine.


Categories: reservatol, Richmond, wine | Leave a comment

Another Great Time at Barrel Thief


Another visit to Barrel Thief this past Friday provided us with another great time. (click here for my previous review)This time we took my sister Elizabeth and her husband/my best friend Jeff up to sample what B.T. had to offer. Although they were crowded, we did not have to wait for a table this time. They had a new selection of 12 wines by the glass this week, pitting American wines against their French counterparts. We decided to peruse the shop to decide what wines we would be having with dinner. However, when we sat down to order our bottles, our waitress McLane (hope I spelled that right), who was also our waitress last time, informed us that if you buy any bottle of wine currently available by the glass they wave the $6 corkage. Of course, this information changed the game completely, as we thought we had our wines all figured out after our walk around the store. Also since the bottles were on the by-the-glass list, she was able to give us a tasty taste of the wines we were considering.

 To start out for the evening we decided on the 2004 Robert Denogent Macon-Solutre Clos de Bertillones from Burgundy ($27). This was a really nice Chardonnay, excellent full bodied and round mouthfeel with just a hint of toasted notes and honey on the finish.

 We were impressed to see that even though it was only 3 weeks since our last visit (I know too long) they had made some changes to the menu.  On our first visit we had eyed the brie appetizer for 2 that our table neighbors ordered and noticed how good it looked and that it may take more than 2 to finish it. Since we were with Jeff and Elizabeth we decided to split it 4 ways.  It was covered with apricot preserves and slivered almonds, a change since our previous visit (looked like it had a dark berry topping). It was delicious, and it paired very nicely with our White Burgundy.

For dinner Megan and I chose the same Portabello Panini that we had last time, as well as one of the new additions to the sandwich menu – a grilled vegetable Panini with goat cheddar, olive tapenade and balsamic reduction. Of course we loved the Portabello Panini again, but of the two, the grilled veggie Panini was our favorite. Even though the sandwich contained 4 things with very different and powerful flavors – all were present on the palate and none were masked or overpowered by the other. Another excellent addition to the menu!

We were also excited to see a nice drizzle of Balsamic on the plates this time, dressing up those stark white plates very nicely. Another nice addition to the menu is the fact that you can now add a mixed green salad to your Panini for $2.

Jeff and Elizabeth also shared the Portabello Panini as well as the citrus smoked salmon, cream cheese, shaved red onion and capers Panini. They were also delighted with both and thought they were very tasty, but of the 2, the salmon won out for them.

 To go with these great sandwiches our second bottle of wine, which was also on the by-the-glass menu, was the 2005 Joguet Chinon Les Petites Roches ($20). It was a really nice Cab Franc.  We were really impressed with its great red currant aromas laced with clove, and it had a nice slightly earthy finish with a hint of oregano.  Again, this wine paired very nicely with the sandwiches that we had chosen.

For dessert Megan and I chose the pound cake and Nutella Panini again, and it was again fabulous. Paired with our pound cake we shared a glass of delicious Vintage port that I can’t remember the name of. Jeff and Elizabeth decided to try the house favorite – Krispy Kreme Strawberry Shortcake. That is definitely a toothache waiting to happen, but they enjoyed it, and we may have to try it next time we are there.

Barrel Thief continued to impress – keep up the good work guys!
Barrel Thief on Urbanspoon

Categories: Richmond, wine | 1 Comment

Special Saturday Wine Tasting at the Wine Cellar

This Saturday, Nov. 10th, the Wine Cellar is having a special Saturday tasting from 1:00 – 4:00. They will be sampling some nice wines from Australia from the following producers: Cimicky, Berrys Bridge, and Langmeil Winery. Jeff’s email says the price range will be from $20 – $50 for the wines but as always the tasting is FREE.In addition to the wine Jeff will be sampling some great cheese and chocolates.

See you all there – Stay tuned later in the week for what Jeff will be serving on Friday night.

Categories: Richmond, wine, wine cellar, wine tasting | 1 Comment