Sogno Toscano in Santa Monica
Sogno Toscano: Savoring Italy’s Best-Kept Secrets in Santa Monica
ITALIAN LIFESTYLE CAFÉ
Sogno Toscano: Savoring Italy's Best-Kept Secrets in Santa Monica
Sogno Toscano, which translates to “Tuscan Dream”, is a haven for those seeking an authentic Tuscan culinary experience. Sogno Toscano opened its Santa Monica doors in July 2023. It also has two New York locations, West Village and Chelsea.
The light olive green Vespa parked outside Sogno Toscano Italian Lifestyle Café in Santa Monica is more than mere decor—it’s an invitation to step into a world that effortlessly blends classic Tuscan charm with contemporary vibrancy in one remarkable Italian lifestyle cafe.
Stepping into Sogno Toscano is like embarking on a culinary journey, with each dish narrating a different chapter of Italy’s rich gastronomic tapestry. The menu, meticulously crafted, captures the heart of Italian cuisine and offers patrons both classic comforts and new culinary adventures, all rooted in authenticity.
It’s a place where families come to bond, friends gather to catch up, and individuals come to find a moment of solace. The tastefully curated Italian music in the background, the rustic interiors, and the friendly staff all contribute to an ambiance that’s unmistakably Sogno Toscano.
This wildly successful food business has a fascinating backstory about two lifelong friends who grew up in the hills of Tuscany and came to America to pursue their dream …and here’s how it all started.
From Bolgheri to Santa Monica: The Roots of a Dream
In the picturesque town of Bolgheri, Tuscany, two seven-year-olds, Pietro Brembilla and Brian Persico, formed an unbreakable bond. Despite Pietro hailing from northern Italy and Brian temporarily calling Ireland home, their shared experience as outsiders in this small Italian town laid the foundation for what would become an enduring friendship.
This bond, strengthened by the rolling Tuscan hills and the scent of olive groves, eventually led them to the bustling streets of New York City in 2006. The Big Apple served as their playground and testing ground, where they introduced top-quality olive oil, straight from Pietro’s family estate in Bolgheri.
Their innovative approach to branding—labeling each bottle individually with restaurant logos in their humble one-bedroom apartment—allowed them to offer unique order flexibility. This strategy set them apart, making it irresistible for restaurants to indulge in the Tuscan experience they offered. Their dedication bore fruit, or in this case, liquid gold, when their venture became an overwhelming success.
It wasn’t long before Pietro’s father, a visionary businessman, recognized the potential in these two young men. With his support, Sogno Toscano—meaning “Tuscan Dream”—expanded its horizons. From one family estate in Bolgheri, they grew to boast 10 distribution centers across the U.S., reaching the kitchens of America’s finest chefs and the homes of countless individuals eager for a taste of Italy.
As Pietro often reflects, “If you wonder why we called the company Sogno Toscano, well, let me tell you about this crazy dream we had in 2006. Then you tell me if there can be a more appropriate name.”
The Newest Location: Sogno Toscano Santa Monica
Fast forward to today, where the dream has traveled cross-country, Sogno Toscano has found a new home in Santa Monica. The café serves as a testament to the dreams of two young boys from Bolgheri and their journey to share the best of Italy with the American market.
The menu, curated with care and passion, showcases iconic Italian flavors and introduces some lesser-known culinary delights, all while emphasizing authenticity and quality.
Public Market had the privilege of interviewing David Maranzaga, the General Manager of Sogno Toscano. His insights painted a vivid picture of a brand that is deeply passionate about what it does. Sogno Toscano is a destination for those seeking authentic Italian flavors in the U.S., and here are some of the highlights.
Appetizers to Awaken Your Taste Buds
The journey begins with “Burrata e Crudo,” a harmonious blend of creamy Burrata paired with 24-month-aged Prosciutto di Parma, accented by the peppery notes of rucola (arugula) and the richness of extra virgin olive oil. “La Deliziosa,” another standout, marries the savory tones of Prosciutto di Parma with the nutty depths of aged Pecorino di Montalcino, all enhanced by the earthy essence of black truffle paste.
A Diverse Palate
Sogno Toscano also takes pride in crafting a menu that caters to a wide range of culinary preferences. From the robust flavors of Prosciutto and Mozzarella di Bufalo to the refreshing vegetarian ‘Contadina’ sandwich with robiola cheese, borettane onions, artichokes, zucchini, and arugula, there’s truly a plate for every palate.
The richness of Italian cuisine is celebrated in all its diversity, ensuring that every guest finds a taste of Italy that resonates with them. Whether you lean towards meaty delights or prefer plant-based options, the menu ensures that no flavor of Italy goes untasted.
Sogno Toscano also offers “Schiacciate”, which are Italian sandwiches made with the finest ingredients. Tuscan schiacciata is similar to the more popular focaccia, but is more thin and chewy, while focaccia is spongy and tall. The difference comes down to the water content and the rising technique.
From the classic “La Bufalina,” which brings together Prosciutto di Parma with fresh Mozzarella di Bufala and the sweet tang of baby red confit tomatoes, to the “Sportiva,” showcasing lean beef and their signature red tomatoes—each flatbread at Sogno Toscano is a narrative of its own.
And now, several menu items at Sogno Toscano are available for local delivery via DoorDash.
Cheese and Charcuterie
For those seeking an authentic Italian experience, the “Formaggi Experience” presents a premium selection of cheeses, while the “Salumi Experience” offers an ensemble of the finest cured meats. Robiola cheese is Italy’s answer to brie or camembert, and a must-try. This soft cheese, made from blended milk, is encased in a delicate white mold rind and promises a melt-in-the-mouth experience.
Pinsa Romana – Not Your Traditional Pizza
This ancient Roman flatbread boasts a light, airy crust and superior toppings like Salame, seasonal truffles, and Mozzarella di Bufala.
Craftsmanship in Every Sip: An Italian Coffee Affair
A conversation about Italy isn’t complete without a nod to its coffee culture. At Sogno Toscano, the Barista section stands proud with its state-of-the-art coffee machine—one of the most exquisite of its size.
Sourcing from Caffe Vergnano, Italy’s oldest coffee roasting company, each cup promises a taste steeped in over 140 years of tradition.When you walk into Sogno Toscano in Santa Monica, the aromatic embrace of freshly brewed coffee wraps around you, instantly transporting you to the traditional coffee houses of Italy.
A Historic Brew – Caffe Vergnano
Founded in 1882, Caffe Vergnano stands as Italy’s oldest coffee roasting company. With four generations committed to the art of coffee making, this brand has been consistent in exporting the authentic Italian espresso ethos around the world.
A Time Honored Italian Tradition
Coffee, in the Italian tradition, is more than just a drink. It’s an experience, a ritual, and, most importantly, a testament to the fine balance between tradition and innovation. Sogno Toscano’s barista section proudly showcases their state-of-the-art coffee machine, one of the finest and most expensive of its size, ready to craft exquisite lattes and other Italian specialties. Each cup promises a symphony of flavors, capturing the essence of Vergnano’s long standing commitment to quality. It stands out not just for its rich taste, but also for the artisanal touch it brings. It’s a meticulous blend of Vergnano’s finest beans, crafted to perfection and served with the love and care that only a true Italian coffee affair can offer.
Morning Delights To Go With Your Coffee
Sogno Toscano also offers a wide array of breakfast treats, everything from egg-based sandwiches, gourmet omelets, artisan yogurt, and freshly-squeezed orange juice to fantastic baked goods from a local Culver City Italian Bakery called Bianca. The delightful Cornetti, reminiscent of croissants, and Cannoncino, with its luscious vanilla cream are very popular choices.
Vino, Vino, Vino
Sogno Toscano also offers a wide array of award-winning red, white, and sparkling Italian Wines by the glass and the bottle.
We tasted several of these incredible wines, and here are just a few standouts.
First, the Apparso 2020 Toscana Rosso wine is made by Co-founder Brian Persico’s family vineyards in Tuscany. It is a smooth-bodied red wine made from Sangiovese grapes that pairs especially well with beef, lamb, poultry and cured meats.
Next, the Franciacorta Brut “Cuvée Prestige” from Ca’ del Bosco from the Lombardy region of Italy is a delightful blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Nero, and Pinot Bianco grapes
And this Villa Sparina Gavi Wine from Northern Italy is a delicious dry white wine, with hints of peach and lemon and a long finish of toasted almonds and honey.
Unwavering Quality, Undeniable Passion: The Sogno Toscano Philosophy
Sogno Toscano has always marched to the beat of its own drum, and this spirit is particularly evident in its unique business model. As the primary company in its sector to operate as a single-brand food distributor while collaborating with numerous partners, it strikes a delicate balance. This approach allows the brand to exude pride in its exceptional quality, fervent commitment to research, and ongoing development efforts.
The process begins at the source. Each product undergoes rigorous testing, ensuring that what you consume is nothing short of the best. Products are also sampled and tasted by award-winning chefs. Their feedback ensures that not only is the product of high quality, but it also excels in taste, texture, and aroma, creating a holistic dining experience.
At the heart of this dedication to excellence is an unwavering love for authentic Italian fare and a passion to share it with the world. From ensuring the finest ingredients to upholding traditional methods of preparation, Sogno Toscano remains steadfast in its mission: delivering a slice of the Tuscan dream, uncompromised and unparalleled, to every table.
Beyond the Plate: Commitment to Sustainability and Equality
In the world of culinary artistry, where flavors, textures, and aromas take center stage, Sogno Toscano goes a step further. Behind the exquisite plates and luxurious Italian flavors lies a profound commitment: to foster a better, more equal, and sustainable world.
Every choice made at Sogno Toscano, from sourcing ingredients to designing the menu, is meticulously planned with sustainability in mind. The company’s operations reflect a steadfast commitment to reducing environmental footprints. From improved production methods to eco-friendlier packaging, every step is a stride towards a greener future.
A Peek into the Future: Expansion, Strategy, and the National Dream
Sogno Toscano’s roots are deeply planted in tradition, but its gaze is firmly set on the horizon.
With a successful foundation established in Santa Monica, New York, and a head office in Tempe, Arizona, Sogno Toscano’s vision is clear: to bring a slice of Italy to more major cities across the United States. Over the next few years, the aim is to open 10-20 new shops, carefully chosen in locales where the thirst for authentic Italian lifestyle cafes is most prominent.
Farm to Table, Coast to Coast: Sourcing directly from farmers in Italy, Sogno Toscano’s commitment to quality is unwavering. Their unique model of importing high-quality products and private labeling ensures that every dish, every product, maintains its authentic Italian essence. As they expand, this bridge between Italian farms and American tables will only grow stronger, providing patrons across the country with an unadulterated taste of Italy.
The Sogno Toscano Experience: More than Just Food
At its heart, Sogno Toscano is about the experience. From the moment customers step in, they’re transported to a different world—one where the hustle and bustle of daily life fades away, replaced by the comforting aromas of freshly baked bread, brewed coffee, and fresh seasonal truffles.
David Maranzaga’s insights were particularly illuminating. He spoke with fervor about the brand’s ethos and its dedication to crafting genuine experiences.
“At Sogno Toscano, it’s not just about serving food. It’s about evoking emotions, sparking memories, and creating moments that our patrons cherish,” David expressed.
With an unwavering commitment to authenticity, sustainability, and community, Sogno Toscano stands out as more than just a cafe. It’s a testament to the beauty of Italian culture and its enduring appeal, miles away from its homeland.
As they expand across the US, one thing is clear—Sogno Toscano’s journey has only just begun!
SOGNO TOSCANO Lifestyle café
1512 Montana Avenue
+1 (310) 393-2331
Hours of Operation
Monday through Sunday
8:00 am – 10:00 pm
“We wanted to make sure the space felt fresh and new and innovative, but we also didn't want it to not feel like Palm Springs.”
– Jenni-Kate Rogers
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