In a word: Middleton's nice Italian.
The specs: #0715
Address, hours & details via Isthmus; reviews at Musings from America's Dairyland, Living Gluten Free in Madison, Chilimuffin's Restaurants Etc., Yelp, Yahoo! Travel, MadFoodie, Trip Advisor, Open Table, City Search, Culinary Adventures in Madison; listing at EatDrinkMadison; official web site,
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If we had a revisit list for places we had to give short shrift for whatever reason, Vin Santo would be on it (along with Dandelion, Madison's, Talula, Tiki Shack...). We went for dessert after burgers at Village Green because trip optimization won out - the two are mere steps apart in downtown Middleton. But we were assured by Becky and Shawn that full meals at Vin Santo are amazing.
A delicious garlic fragrance enveloped us the moment we stepped through the door. The dining room is small, with intimate, warm seating, and really feels like a restaurant. There were four desserts on the menu and we decided to get the whole shebang.
The tiramisu was a novel take on the classic: very bold espresso flavor, but the traditional ladyfingers had been replaced by one layer of cake topped with one layer of cream and lots of cinnamon and cocoa. It was a beast, being larger than even two could probably split.
There was a light and fluffy cheesecake with graham gracker crust, and a plate of fresh, cool summer berries in lightly sweetened whipped cream. As cheesecakes go, this was fine, though not as good as the other items on the dessert menu.
The winner of the night was the bread pudding. It arrived steaming hot with scads of caramel and cinnamon. Nothing was very photogenic in the dim, romantic light but we'd go back for that dish in a heartbeat.
We would like to return to Vin Santo not just because we had attentive service that swapped ghost stories, not just because the dinners smelled good and desserts tasted good and not just because we had two boxes of desserts to take home, but because they're just kind of awesome. It may not be TEH BEST ITALIAN EVAR, but as far as we saw, it rocks at what it does.