Beautiful sunsets, roller coaster rides, airplane take-offs… these moments take your breath away, right?

Well, add SENSI to that list.

As soon as you walk in this Italian restaurant, you’re hit with stunning lighting unlike anything you’ll see in Charlotte. Empty wine bottles (2,560 of them, actually) are strung from the ceiling in perfect curves and waves to create perfectly pretty fixtures.

Since you probably aren’t dining out strictly due to exquisite lighting, you’ll be pleased to know SENSI also delivers in the kitchen.

Luigi Nastri, a Michelin-starred chef, creates contemporary Italian dishes for his guests at Rea Farms (the block of retailers across from Waverly.) The menu is broken down into anitpasti, primi, secondi, and dolici/formaggi (dessert/cheese) plus two tasting menus. The Italian Touch has five courses ($90 per person, $30 more for three wines) or the Sensi Experience with seven courses ($130 per person, $35 more for five wines.)

Weekly specials are in development, but you can currently take advantage of half-off bottles of wine (up to $60) on Thursdays along with 25% off wines over $60.

Now, on to the food…

Bread is brought to the table shortly after you’re seated. It’s unreal. Soft, buttery, and salty with a slightly crunchy top layer. We went through two servings (eight cubes of bread.)

The cocktail menu contains plenty of signature cocktails crafted by bar manager Settimio Piterà, and they’re listed in a booklet with hand drawings of each drink. A simple touch that goes a long way.

Our venture into The Italian Touch tasting started with the Seared Scallops with Sicilian broccoli puree, pork sausage meatballs, and broccolini. Definitely a favorite of the evening as the scallops were cooked perfectly and paired well with everything on the plate.

Next, we devoured the Sensi Sorrentina Gnocchi with mozzarella and four styles of tomato (including tomato dust.) Rich and delicious.

It’s hard to resist any dish with pesto AND risotto. The Basil Pesto Risotto with cod, “pil pil” foam, and candied lemon was unlike any dish we’ve tried before, but it was definitely a winner (although, we were getting quite full at this point.)

Our main was the Lamb with SENSI’s take on eggplant parmigiana. It’s a mystery how they managed to get so much rich flavor in one piece of eggplant.

Finally, dessert! The Cinnamon Pannacotta was topped with green apple sorbet and contained spiced apples at the bottom (make sure you dig down for those.) The Chocolate Cake was paired with salted caramel mousse. Yum.

If you’ve traveled to and dined in Italy, a meal at SENSI will take you right back to la dolce vita. Even if you haven’t yet been to Italy, SENSI is perfect for date night, girl’s night, family visits, you name it. If you’re in need of event space, consider their balcony area (overlooking that beautiful lighting).

And for a peek into the magic behind the scenes, snag your spot at the chef’s table. You won’t regret it.

SENSI is open Tuesday – Thursday, 5 – 10 PM; Saturday, 11 AM – 3 PM, 5 PM – 11 PM; Sunday, 11 AM – 3 PM, 5 PM – 10 PM; closed Monday.