A decided disadvantage of moving around in a small geographic bubble is losing sight of places just outside the bubble.
Like Enoteca Sogno. I'd been there a year ago and not returned for any better reason than it's outside my usual radius.
My dining partner had never been and wanted some place "light and airy." As a bonus, he'd happily eat Italian 24/7.
Light was streaming in the big front window and we assumed our positions at the end of the bar.
Out lovely barkeep was smart and funny and, after some tasting, delivered a bottle of Sardinian Argiolas Costomolino Vermentino, recommended by a man one month home from a trip to Sardinia.
Fresh-tasting and yet with a certain richness, it was the ideal early evening meal wine.
Listening to the specials, we were instantly enamored of stuffed squid full of chopped tentacles, lemon thyme butter, breadcrumbs and Peccorino.
As she was explaining the re-stuffing of the squid body, our witty server said, "People usually stop me there."
Well, that's unfortunate.
Needless to say, that won our hearts and was followed by the whole Branzino, the exact same dish I'd had when I'd last been there.
No apologies here; when the skin is that crispy and seasoned and the fish that flaky, I set my mouth for repeat.
And the lightly dressed arugula on the plate cut the indulgence of the squid with its pepperiness.
It was a crowd I don't often encounter, but definitely bustling, so we appreciated our tucked-away setting near the back of the bar.
Actually, any place would have been fine when I'm listening to stories of riding the coast road in Sardinia while eating whole fish with my fingers.
Only rule? One cheek a piece.
We figured canoli and tiramisu were for beginners, so we chose the lemon polenta cake with almond which came with balsamic-soaked strawberries.
Think of it as a European version of strawberry jam on a corn muffin.
The perfect ending.
And what have we learned from this, Karen?
Sometimes we have to wander out of our usual circle to be rewarded with cheeks and stories.
Note to self: widen orbit.