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« "Foodies" Opening Party & Night Market @ WAC, Sept. 14 | Main | CT Food Bank Awards CTbites "Hunger Action Hero" »
Sunday
Sep092012

Olio Restaurant Opens in Springdale, Stamford

Olio - [oh-lee-oh] (noun) - a dish of many different ingredients

Olio Restaurant, off the beaten path in the Springdale section of Stamford, represents the epitome of a “Hidden Gem.” Located in the space that formerly housed Bella Luna, Chef/Owner Steve Costanzo and his business partner Moira Hyland bring over 36 years of experience to this underserved neighborhood. After two months, the residents are viewing Olio as their local culinary answer to downtown Stamford.

Costanzo graduated from the New York Restaurant School and worked in many area restaurants including Baang, Long Ridge Tavern, and Quattro Pazzi (Executive Chef). Hyland is a graduate of the Chef's Training Program at The Natural Gourmet Institute for Health and Culinary Arts. The duo brings their passion and energy to create an eclectic and inviting menu and environment to their dream restaurant. When I asked them what attracted them to this location, Hyland told me, “When we first saw the location… we fell in love with the layout and the fact that the open kitchen made the space so inviting and intimate.”  The fifty seat interior was completely redecorated and the result is an inviting space that is divided into two dining areas with marble topped tables separated by a long marble bar overlooking the kitchen. Exposed beams under the skylight add charm to the minimalist style of the space. The menu offers a diverse selection of pastas, meats, fish, and poultry with a strong Columbian influence from Costanzo’s wife, Mayte. 

Costanzo’s talent was immediately apparent when I visited Olio one afternoon for lunch. The roasted and shredded pork Torta (Mexican variety) with avocado, Chipotle mayonnaise, roasted tomato and arugula, served on a Ciabatta roll was impressive. The slow roasted pork was delicious, moist, and flavorful and the peppery arugula and the sweet, roasted tomato perfectly complemented the pork. The mayonnaise brought just a touch of spiciness. This was my first taste of Costanzo’s culinary talent and the reason that I returned to Olio for the other dishes.

My favorite appetizer was the BBQ Spareribs.  The ribs were first braised for almost two hours and when they emerged from the moist braising process, they were finished with the miso soy BBQ sauce that was comprised of raisins, star anise, and plum wine. The “tower” included five ribs that were fall off the bone tender, full of flavor and smothered in Costanzo’s sweet and succulent BBQ sauce (extra napkins required). The dish was garnished with sesame seeds and charred green onions.

Another delicious option was the Wild Mushroom Crostini. Costanzo’ recipe began with a duxelle of cremini and shitake mushrooms to which he added diced caramelized cippolini onions and roasted garlic. When assembled he melted a small amount of Taleggio cheese on top.  Presented as a trio with the arugula and a touch of truffle oil, this dish presented great flavors and was a delightful way to begin the meal.  

The Seared Sea Scallops served atop a smoked cauliflower fondue and complemented with sweet and sour golden raisins was another excellent choice. The two large scallops were perfectly seared and Costanzo added Sherry vinegar to offset the sweetness of the raisins. If, like me, you prefer a little more saltiness to your dish, be prepared to add just a little salt to the cauliflower fondant to bring out more of the cauliflower’s natural goodness. 

Olio’s entrées feature house made pastas, fish, and several items that Costanzo slow roasts and braises.

The House-Made Ricotta Gnocchi, served with lobster and finished in a brandy cream sauce was my favorite entrée. The gnocchi were delicious, with a light, soft texture; the lobster was perfectly cooked and Costanzo added a few sweet grape tomatoes to bring the various flavors together. This gnocchi dish created a great combination of flavors with the creaminess of the sauce and the delicate texture and flavor of the lobster meat and grape tomatoes.  

We also enjoyed the Beef Short Ribs with truffle mashed potatoes (seen above) that were served with an Ancho chili and tomato confit. The sauce exploded with flavors and the ribs were braised until they were fork tender while maintaining their integrity. The sauce’s flavor was enhanced by Costanzo’s braising stock which included plum tomatoes, veal stock, red wine, roasted red and Poblano pepper plus a touch of cinnamon. Overall this dish delivered outstanding flavors throughout.

Please save room for Costanzo and Hyland’s special dessert, the Cinnamon Sugar Dusted Donuts, served with a Nutella dipping sauce. The donuts were some of the moistest versions I have tasted and when I asked the chef the secret to this incredible texture, he reluctantly told me, “ricotta.” No longer a secret ingredient and no longer a secret dish, I expect that the donuts will become a staple at Olio with every-changing sauce accompaniments being offered in addition to the Nutella. 

Other desserts were available to satisfy the sweet tooth. The bread pudding with a bourbon crème Anglaise sauce was a very good version, but I would have preferred a little more cinnamon and sauce and the warm almond fudge torte with Grand Marnier served with house-made vanilla bean ice cream and raspberries, was more a brownie in texture, but very tasty.

After a few months, Costanzo and Hyland are very pleased with the response from the guests and the neighborhood and they are excited about expanding the menu and developing a deeper relationship with all who enjoy their cuisine and hospitality. “We love the neighborhood and all the support we have received from the community.” 

Olio Restaurant, 934 Hope St., Stamford, CT, (203) 817-0303  

Olio Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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Reader Comments (7)

Jeff,

REALLY well written review. I appreciate your passion for the subject as well as your eloquence.

I will be firing up the jalopy and heading over for the gnocci and some wine.

September 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTownie

Olio is a fantastic addition to the Stamford Food scene, never mind the Springdale neighborhood. The parnters treat everyone that walks in like friends and neighbors and the food is excellent. Slowly working my way through the menu and have yet to be disappointed. For dinner they also typically do a special or two and early each evening they post a picture of the first plate out. Before our last visit I had a look and my wife never even bothered with a menu. Everyone please visit, I want to be able to walk down for a bit for years to come.

September 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterScott

They really need to take reservations.

September 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterA-non

And an improved wine list. Otherwise, a winner.

October 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCTeater

Came here last weekend and the food was excellent. Great service and I absolutely love that they have a seasonal menu. Allows them to always have the freshest ingredients and ever changing styles of food.

November 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNStamford

I went here this week with a lady on the fly. At 7 pm on a Weds they were packed.

We sat at the bar and the keep opened a bottle of wine which was really delicious for a by-the-glass wine.

The place has the sound and the aroma of a good restaurant.

I ordered the steak. PROBABLY not the best choice these days, it was a small strip steak of no particular distinction (not prime, not black angus, just "steak") and that's what it tasted like. It did come with a really nice potato-gratin-cake thingy, which made the dish. It was a date so I didn't start grabbing at the lady's food (not that I'm above that sort of thing, but it was a FIRST date:).

This is a neighborhood in transition. The last time I was here (ten years?) the place which is now called "Tracks" was a really good coal oven joint called Mancini, which is what I had actually been looking for.

Has anyone been to either Amore, across the street, or the Springdale Diner, both of which were empty and unappealing for that reason.

April 25, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterrealguy

Stopped in last night after the movies. Great menu, delicious food, simple but lovely decor, good service.
A great addition to the neighborhood.

September 18, 2013 | Unregistered Commenternewcanaanneighbor

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