Finally…the weather has changed…the farms are beginning to produce spring vegetables… and al fresco dining is in full swing. CTbites recently posted a round-up of over forty restaurants with al fresco dining including Locali in New Canaan and many readers added their favorites.
At the northern end of Forest Avenue, aka Restaurant Row, the patio of the newest restaurant addition, Locali, opened its patio, doubled the seating and Executive Chef Mogan Anthony has completely revamped the menu. The new spring offerings include nine predetermined pizza combinations and sixteen appetizers and salads, all for sharing, plus a smattering of pastas. All of these new culinary delights combine bold flavors and textures to highlight the seasonal bounty.
As we perused the menu, we enjoyed munching on “Edamame Milano.” The steamed edamame were topped with grated Pecorino cheese and toasted bread crumbs. The edamame maintained their crunchiness, the addition of the pecorino added a touch of saltiness and the bread crumbs a nice crunch.
The “Blistered Asparagus” were served with tangerine segments, pistachios, shaved Parmesan cheese with a toasted pistachio vinaigrette. The asparagus were lightly grilled to deliver a touch of smokiness. The tangerines added a little tanginess, the Parmesan cheese a hint of saltiness and the pistachios complemented the dish with a touch of earthiness.
The “Chicken Meatballs” are Locali’s seasonal adjustment to the Unami meatballs and were delicious. They are topped with a Puttanesca sauce and served with whipped cheese curd. The meatballs were incredibly soft and the olives and capers added a touch of saltiness to complement the sweetness of the tomatoes.
The new menu also includes several new salads. The “Arugula” was tossed with tangerine segments, shaved fennel and walnuts and then finished with an orange vinaigrette and saba. The arugula was full of peppery flavor that was offset by the tangerines and saba. The walnuts added earthy notes and crunch, and the vinaigrette balanced the dish with a little acidity.
Another simple, and delightful, dish was the “Crispy Baby Artichokes.” The artichokes were quartered, lightly dusted and perfectly fried. The lemon aioli added a bright, citrusy zest to the artichokes. This dish was delicious; offering bright flavors and the textural contrast between the crispy artichokes and the creamy aioli.
The “Fusilli” is served with crab, fennel, chili, pancetta, and topped with gremolata crumbs. The pasta was serve al dente and the combination of the crab, fennel, chili and pancetta delivered a wide array of flavors and textures, with the crumbs adding the crispiness to offset the creaminess of the sauce. It was finished with a smidgen of extra virgin olive oil. Ours was a little light on the chili and I would have preferred more to increase the overall composition and give the dish the expected zip.
We sampled two of the new pizza combinations. The “Gus Island” is a “White” variation topped with ricotta cheese, house-made mozzarella cheese and finished with shaved asparagus and lemon aioli. The crust is slightly less sweet than Locali’s original recipe and remains one of the best in Fairfield County. The non-traditional toppings presented a delicious variation of flavors with the lemon aioli and asparagus working incredibly well together; and the cheeses added another level of creaminess.
After enjoying a “White” pizza, we next sampled a “Ramp Star” but added tomato sauce. In addition to a great Marinara sauce, the toppings included Burrata, ramps, garlic and grated Pecorino cheese. With ramp season in full swing, they took center stage while the Burrata and Pecorino added a wonderful creamy texture; the addition of the San Marzano tomato sauce is an option I would recommend.
Whether you dine under the stars or inside, the new menu at Locali offers some incredibly flavorful dishes plus some of the best and most creative pizza combinations.
Locali Pizza Bar + Kitchen
32 Forest St · New Canaan · (203) 920-1440
- Edamame Milano ($7)
- Blistered Asparagus ($8)
- Chicken Meatballs ($11 - two meatballs) / ($18 - four meatballs)
- Crispy Baby Artichokes ($8)
- Gus Island Pizza ($14)
- Ramp Star ($16)
- Arugula ($12)
- Fusilli ($19)