Experiencing the Sagra della Fennel!

Saturday, November 14th, 2009

Review by William T. Jackson 

On Sunday, November 8, 2009 we the had pleasure to experience Sagra della Fennel hosted by popular Chef, Gabriel Pellegrini and his staff at his popular restaurant, Sagra Trattoria And Bar located in the heart of downtown Austin.   Most special about this event, guests were invited to experience Sagra della Fennel, compliments of Chef Pellegrini!  That’s right the entire specially selected dinner menu was available to guests at no charge! 

            Being the organized person I am, I wanted to ensure my guests and me were treated to the ultimate experience.  The Sagra staff exceeded my expectations.  As a VIP I requested a 4:00 PM reservation, which would allow us to enjoy our dinner and be photographed by our guest photographer during daylight hours.   Promptly at 4:00 PM, we were directed to our tables and greeted by our eager and excited host, Antonio.  Antonio recommended an excellent Anglianico an Italian wine from the Italian region of Campania, which whet our palate for the first course. 


As the title of the Event indicates, the feature was the aromatic herb, fennel, and each course was perfectly complemented with the herb.  The Insalate, or first course, was a Mixed Green Salad with fennel pollen, orange, fennel and shaved Parmesan cheese.   I must tell you, the marriage of the orange and fennel were a perfect complement.  The aroma and taste of citrus and fennel excited our sense of smell and tantalized our taste buds.  There were simultaneous words of praise from our table! 

            The Primi, or second course, was Fennel Gratinati, which are layers of fennel and potato baked with cheese.  Being that I’m not a lover of cheese, I didn’t expect too much from this course.  What a delight this dish proved to be.  The texture and presentation of the dish reminded me of a perfectly prepared dish of au gratin potatoes, simple yes, but kicked up a notch, Sagra style. 

            The third course, a Brodetto was a visually pleasing dish of mussels, shrimp, squid, clams and fish in a “little broth” of fennel, saffron and grilled tomatoes served with sourdough bread.  Absolutely delicious!  This was a perfect balance of ingredients; not one over powering the other.  The sourdough bread proved to be an excellent “spoon” to savor the flavorful “rich fennel infused broth”. 

            As would be expected, the restaurant was packed with guests eager to partake in the Sagra della Fennel experience.  As such, the restaurant was quite crowded.  Despite the crowd, the staff managed well.  We even had a personal visit by Chef Pelligrini and his wife who were willing to be photographed with us.  The staff is attentive and quite knowledgeable of the menu and wine list, which are qualities we look for in a hallmark restaurant.  Sagra provided an excellent setting to enjoy the company of good friends, good food in a uniquely exciting atmosphere.  The menu is limited, but nicely selected.  The wine list has plenty of unique options and is on the more expensive side; however, complements the food quite well. 

            Visit Sagra Trattoria and Bar at 1610 San Antonio Street, Austin, TX  78701,    (512)-535-5988   .  Visit online at http://sagrarestaurant.net/.

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