Mangia, Mangia Mangia…and Mangia again.
Pasta Bolognese..a dish so embedded in the DNA of Italian culture that the Italian Academy of Cuisine registered a recipe for "classic Bolognese ragù" with the Bologna Chamber of Commerce. The recorded recipe calls for beef from the plate section, unsmoked pancetta, carrot, celery, onions, tomato purée, meat broth, dry wine, milk, salt and pepper, plus a small amount of cream as an option to finish the sauce. There are numerous variations and nuances in the design, flavor, ingredients and most importantly the partner on the plate, the pasta, traditionally a taggliatelle.
What started as a simple idea within CTbites to find and recommend a few good Pasta Bolognese dishes in Fairfield County took a life of its own as more suggestions led to more great sauces, which led to, well more great sauces. Over the last several weeks, the two of us have enjoyed some great Pasta Bolognese preparations (and several that were not so good) to give our readers a list of recommended restaurants that serve delicious versions of this traditional Italian fare. It is not all encompassing, is listed alphabetically and we look to our readers to offer other suggestions of restaurants that serve their favorite Pasta Bolognese to be included in next year's search.
And this is only part 1…there were too many for just one list of recommendations, so stay tuned for part 2 in the near future.
BAR SUGO - NORWALK
102 Wall Street - (203) 956-7134
Owner / Chef Pat Pascarella’s Bolognese sauce is outstanding and is served with either Pappardelle or Cavatelli. Each presents a slightly different textural quality with the traditional pappardelle supplementing the rich sauce while the cavatelli plays an equal co-star role. The Bolognese is prepared with ground dry aged rib-eye steak, veal, pork, milk, wine and tomatoes and finished with just a touch of mascarpone and sage velouté. These last two ingredients create a wonderful silky finish and adds flavors that distinquishes this version of the classic recipe.
CARPE DIEM – NEW CANAAN
26 Locust Avenue - 203 594-9599
Owner Alan Basaran has a slightly different take on the meat preparation for the Bolognese. He begins with prime rib-eye steaks and rough chops this high-end meat into diced-sized pieces versus using a traditional meat grinder. He believes that the end result is a more rustic texture than using ground meat. Carpe Diem’s traditional preparation showcases outstanding flavors and includes small pieces of the vegetables when served. The rustic texture of the sauce, combined with the rich and bright flavored tomatoes are a perfect complement to the house-made pasta, which is slightly thicker than others and is fully capable of handling the rich sauce.
CAVA WINE BAR – NEW CANAAN
2 Forest Street - 203 966-6946
Traditionally, in Pasta Bolognese the sauce complements the pasta, but in Chef Nube Rivera's version, she uses ricotta gnocchi in lieu of pasta and the gnocchi elevate the entire dish to a different flavor and textural profile. Her hearty beef and veal Bolognese is finished with just a touch of cream resulting is a rich sauce. The ricotta gnocchi, which are made the previous night to maintain the structure, are soft and delicate "pillows" that sit atop the sauce. When combined in a single bite, the result is ethereal; the creaminess of the gnocchi beautifully offset the richness of the sauce and adds an incredible silky quality.
MORRELLO BISTRO - GREENWICH
253 Greenwich Avenue - 203 661-3443
Executive Chef Forrest Pasternack's signature dish, garganelli Bolognese, is refreshingly rustic on elegant Greenwich Ave. The garganelli, a broad flat noodle popular in the Bologna district is freshly made on premises and the meats in the sauce include veal, pork and beef, which simmer low and slow for hours. It is smoothed with herbed ricotta and finished with high fat butter, rather than the traditional unpasteurized milk “I can’t take a chance with that,” Pasternack confesses. Only 8 ingredients make up the simple and authentic dish.
NAPA AND COMPANY- STAMFORD
75 Broad Street - 203 353-3319
Napa's house-made Garganelli, dense and delectable, perfectly shoulders Executive Chef Leo Marino's sublime Bolognese sauce. Enriched with a red wine reduction, San Marzano tomatoes, and a smallish portion of mirepoix, the beef and veal sauce simmers for hours and is finished with heavy cream and a touch of butter. What emerges is a sauce tasting more patrician than peasant, the dairy endowing it with the hue of warm embers. A cap of whipped white ricotta crowns the elegance. This dish pairs beautifully with a California Cabernet…from Napa.
QUATTRO PAZZI -- STAMFORD
269 Bedford Street - 203 324-7000
At “Gino” Riccio's popular Quattro Pazzi, the star of his Bolognese dish is the ethereal ricotta gnocchi. Indeed, the veal and beef specked sauce plays a mere supporting, and rather undramatic, role. The rich ricotta combined with the parmesan flavored sauce creates a mixture that tastes... well ... I guess the best word is "cheesy," but not in a cheap way. While the sauce is not as nuanced as others, the gnocchi soars, seeming to defy gravity and goo. It is the gnocchi that makes this dish a recommendation.
SCENA – DARIEN
1077 Boston Post Road - 203 662-3226
Chef Eban Leonard creates a sublime Taggliatelle Bolognese. His sauce begins with a traditional mirepoix of carrots, onions and celery to which he adds a combination of veal and beef. The final product includes tomatoes, milk and Chef Leonard’s secret touch, a stick of cinnamon. He allows the ingredients to “simmer for hours.” The house-made taggliatelle pasta is as silky as any I have tasted and when combined with the Bolognese creates a delightful combination, with the hearty sauce complementing the silky pasta.
SOUTH END – NEW CANAAN
36 Pine Street - 203 966-5200
The Tagliatelle Bolognese prepared by Owner / Chef Nick Martschenko is the cornerstone of South End’s ever-changing menu. The house-made pasta is the perfect thickness to handle the rich flavors of the veal, pork, and beef based Bolognese. The sauce is a traditional preparation and finished with rosemary and basil, plus a secret ingreidient. On almost every visit this dish was ordered by at least one person at our table and in every instance the entire table tasted and thoroughly enjoyed the rich flavors of the sauce combined with the texture of the pasta.
VIA SFORZA TRATTORIA - WESTPORT
243 Post Road - 203 454-4444
At his eponymous restaurant, Dino Sforza's fettuccini Bolognese bears a very southern taste and texture. He eschews any milk or cream in an extremely red hued sauce dominated by San Marzano tomatoes. With his unique belief that Bolognese should be more of a vegetable than a meat experience, his beef and pork grind only accents the tomato-centric sauce. The result is more refined than rustic, healthy than hearty, while teetering at the edge of the Acidic Cliff. The Bolognese is only listed on the lunch menu but can be ordered at any meal, with any pasta, including pappardelle. Dino also sauces his dinner special Gnoccchi Albana with a Bolognese sauce, topped with both Parmesan and mozzarella cheeses.
Stay tuned…more coming soon...