1. Il Sogno Osteria
200 E Grayson, (210) 223-3900, pearlbrewery.com
Hailed as a “five-star ode to the trattorias and osterias of Rome and Florence,” Andrew Weissman’s Il Sogno infuses the rustic flavors of Italy into everything from the house-made cheeses and pastas to hearty entrées and pizzas cooked in a wood-fired oven. Alluring as the banquettes may be, the best seats in the house are parked in front of the open kitchen — offering a bird’s-eye view of culinary choreography to rival Iron Chef America. Especially if you factor in a bottle from the extensive wine list (which traverses Italy with offerings as low as $25 and as high as $399), tickets add up quickly, but one can still live the dream without breaking the bank. Add a trio from the colorful antipasti bar ($10) to the panini of the day ($12) or a spicy pizza Atomica ($15) and you’ve got a meal for two — especially if you’re saving room for tiramisu.
2. Little Italy Restaurant
824 Afterglow, (210) 349-2060
555 E Basse, (210) 825-5191, paesonos.com