The long awaited grand opening of Bar Rosso is scheduled for next Thursday May 12th and CTBites previews its gastronomic delights for this latest edition of “Behind the Scenes.” We returned and discussed the restaurant’s culinary vision with Dan Kardos, the Executive Chef, as he finalizes his interpretations of dishes from throughout Italy and met with Mary Schaffer who described her team’s conceptual design.
Since our last visit in January, remarkable strides towards completion have taken place to the interior of the restaurant. The expansive stainless steel bar is fully installed, the two-story wood burning oven is completed, and the glass partitions and TVs are now all in place. The space looks fantastic. In the rear of the first floor is the six-seat pizza tasting bar, overlooking Bar Rosso’s wood burning oven that will heat to 800-1,000 degrees, already in full blaze, as it continues its months long curing process.
Behind the wood burning oven is the epicenter of Chef Kardos’ creativity, the kitchen where he and his team are busily fine tuning the ingredients, the timing, making adjustments and finalizing many of the dishes that will be included on opening night. The menu will be divided into five categories; Antipasti, Insalate E Piattini, Pasta, Pizza E Calzones, and Secondi.
In the small-plated Antipasti section over forty choices will be available and we previewed four delicious offerings. The Sardines and Peppers included several white sardines that were tasty and the spiciness of the peppers range from mild to those with a bit more spice. The Spicy Shrimp and Beans comprised several shrimp with a nice lemony flavor sitting atop several varieties of lightly steamed beans. The Meatballs, comprised of both veal and ricotta, were served in a jar and surrounded by a simple red sauce. I absolutely recommend the meatball Antipasti; it is outstanding.
As we were enjoying these dishes, one of Chef Kardos’ assistants was completing a small batch of fresh mozzarella. A Burrata was quickly created by encasing some of the freshly pulled cheese around fresh ricotta. Atop the Burrata, Chef Kardos placed some fennel pollen, prosciutto, olives, cashews, chili oil, jalapeño peppers, arugula, extra virgin olive oil and a splash of aged Balsamic Vinegar. This was a delicious rendition. I loved how the flavors of peppers and arugula were mellowed by the creaminess of the mild ricotta and mozzarella.
The Insalate E Piattini section will contain up to ten selections. We sampled a fantastic version of Fried Calamari. Chef Kardos lightly dressed the fried Calamari with a clover honey glaze, chili flakes, jalapeño peppers, lemon zest and chives (above). The sweetness of the honey was a wonderful and unexpected complement to the background spice that the chili flakes and peppers brought to the dish. This dish is must-have for those who would like to taste a delectable interpretation of fried calamari. Other choices that may be featured in the opening night menu include a Creamy Polenta Soup with Guanciale, Calabrian Chili Oil, and a Soft Boiled Duck Egg, plus Crispy Sweetbreads with Roasted Tuna, lemon aioli and marinated olives.
The Pastas choices will include both old-time favorites plus Bar Rosso’s interpretation of Italian classics. Traditional Spaghetti and Meatballs and Linguini Carbonara are included on the opening menu. The Tagliatelle & Lamb Neck Ragu starts with lamb and then adds harissa, raisins, feta and garlic while the Bucatini All’ Amatricana will meld the flavors of crispy pork belly, Calabrian Chili and sweet and sour tomatoes. Another selection that caught my eye was the Garganelli & Stewed Rabbit with roasted mushroom, tarragon butter and Pan Jus. Each of the pastas will be available in both a full and half-sized portion.
Within the Pizza and Calzones offerings, Chef Kardos will prepare both traditional and creative Neopolitan pizzas with numerous house-made ingredients. He prepared four different versions for us to sample. For me, the dough is always a pivotal aspect in any great pizza, and Bar Rosso’s is extremely well executed. After two minutes in the 800-degree oven the finished product’s edges are crispy on the top, slightly charred on the bottom, and have a very soft interior.
The traditional Margherita pizza includes Bar Rosso’s house-made mozzarella, San Marzano tomato sauce and sprinkled with fresh basil leaves. It is a refreshingly modern version of this simplistic classic. The next pizza that we sampled was my favorite and included fresh ricotta cheese, a little roasted broccoli rabe, spicy sausage, Calabria chili oil, fennel pollen, roasted garlic and Percorino Toscano cheese. It was delicious; Chef Kardos’ house-made spicy sausage was the centerpiece of this pizza. Another variation that Bar Rosso will offer includes their rendition of a Connecticut classic, the clam apizza. The clams were first steamed in white wine and subsequently tossed with a little lemon zest plus oreganato flavored bread crumbs. The clams were then paired with the ricotta cheese, house made pancetta and some delicious sweet fennel to create a wonderful combination, and the sweet fennel and pancetta combination was outstanding. The last pizza that we sampled combined shrimp, wilted escarole, and speck, with the ricotta cheese, and topped with some ricotta salata. I really liked the flavor combination that the shrimp, speck and escarole brought to this pizza.
The last portion of the menu, the Secondi, includes wood roasted chicken and fish, plus slow roasted pork shoulder, hanger steak and Osso Buco. Chef Kardos prepared a preview of one of the fish specials that contains one of my favorite fishes, Bronzini. After a quick dusting of fennel pollen, salt, pepper, olive oil and some lemon zest, the whole fish was placed in the blazing oven. Ten minutes later it emerged with a crispy skin and moist interior. Chef Kardos topped this perfectly prepared fish with fava beans, chick peas, salt roasted beets, lemon, oil, and some sweet aged balsamic produced by Tondo. It was moist, crispy and delicious.
With the opening just a week away, Chef Kardos is quickly finishing the fine-tuning and perfecting all the dishes that will be featured on the grand opening menu. Stay tuned for the next “Behind the Scenes” at the opening Bar Rosso.
Bar Rosso24 Spring St, Stamford. 203-388-8640