There’s always a lot of anticipation around the New Year and for foodies in Sacramento, it kicks into high gear once January arrives. That means that Dine Downtown Restaurant Week returns! From January 12-21, more than 30 of Downtown’s finest restaurants offer special 3-course dining experiences for $35. One dollar from every Dine Downtown meal is donated to social services and food literacy programs. This annual program serves more than 11,000 meals and, since launching in 2005 generates a whopping $5 million of sales for downtown restaurants.
A few years ago when I worked for DSP, Dine Downtown was my project and it was the first year it had a philanthropic angle. I was excited and thrilled to cultivate relationships with our culinary community and since my departure, I make sure to always go out and dine, support my local economy and eat for a cause in January.
My sister-friend Ruthie of Ruthie Ridley Blog invited me to preview the menu of one of the 35 restaurants participating and how could I say no to delicious food, wine, and good conversation? Don’t worry, I didn’t. 🙂 We went to Il Fornaio and had a ball!
I love the Il Fornaio on Capitol Mall. It gets so much amazing natural light and has beautiful marble and wood fixtures. We started at the bar to catch up on the crazy month of December and have a little snack to tie us over until we moved to our table for an early dinner.
Pro Tip: Did you know that Il Fornaio’s happy hour is one of the best in town? They offer a spread of complimentary appetizers with your beverage purchase. It’s perfect before an event at Golden 1 Center or a prelude to your dinner service.
Once we were ready to move over to our table, the General Manager Patrick came over to tell us a bit about the Dine Downtown menu and more about Il Fornaio. Ruthie and I were instantly salivating. He asked if we needed more time to get settled and we said no, let’s get this party started!
Patrick is the best! So kind and made sure we were taken care of the entire time.We kicked off with two salads, the Insalata Caesarino (Caesar salad) and Insalata di Bietole: red & gold beets with red wine vinegar, wild arugula, toasted walnuts & Asiago cheese; lemon-olive oil dressing.
For our entrees, Ruthie and I ordered the two options so we could split them and have the best of both worlds. I ordered the Petto di Pollo al Peperoncino, Grilled free-range chicken breast marinated with sage, rosemary, thyme, crushed red pepper, white wine, Dijon mustard & lemon; served with spicy peperoncino sauce, sautéed organic spinach & roasted Yukon Gold potatoes and Ruthie had the Brasato Al Vino Rosso: Short ribs braised with root vegetables, pancetta & red wine; served with mashed potatoes & sautéed organic spinach.
The spicy peperoncino sauce uses Calabrian pepper and it was superb: smoky, spicy with a bold finish.
Now, you’re probably wondering if we had room for dessert.
I am the dessert lady!
If you’re in the Sacramento area, get off the sofa this January and go Dine Downtown! It’s the perfect time to keep your resolution to have more date nights or more quality time with your girlfriends. Visit the Dine Downtown website for all of the information and for the menus of participating restaurants. If you’re not in Sacramento but in California, it’s California Restaurant Month, too! Check out the Visit California website and see what’s happening in your area.
Photos by Ashley Baumgartner
Disclaimer: This post is in collaboration with the Downtown Sacramento Partnership and Il Fornaio. Thank you for supporting the brands that support the blog (and its friends)!