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« Bartaco Gains Approval for Westport Location | Main | Four to Participate In “ARTISAN IRON CHEF DINNER” »

Pasta Bolognese in Fairfield County Roundup: Part I

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.

Buon Appetito!!!


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. 


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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...

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Reader Comments (14)

Interesting to see the pics and descriptions that demonstrate some different "takes" on bolognese (ie: not using traditional B/P/V mix, adding non-standard ingredients like peas, mascarpone, etc). I’m all for the “creative license” on the chef’s part as long as it is disclosed on the menu. There is nothing I hate worse than ordering a Bolognese expecting the traditional preparation and wind up getting some other interpretation.
I've never had a Bolognese in a restaurant that was as good as the homemade version from Marcella Hazan’s cookbook. And my “secret” to her recipe: make it one night, eat it the next. The extra time sitting in the fridge overnight lets the flavors all come together even more.

Jeff: I thought your favorite Bolognese was from Aloi in New Canaan. Sorry to say I never made it there before it closed last year. I read recently that Chef Aloi is now at Il Palio in Shelton. Have you been? Is she still serving a Bolognese dish?

January 4, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterfoleyd7

Thanks for sharing. So of all the bologneses you tried, which was your favorite? This post also reminded me that I need to try out South End

January 4, 2013 | Unregistered Commentermla19


yes, i was a big fan of Chef Aloi when she was in NC, and I went to her new place in shelton a couple of months ago and the food she is preparing in the kitchen is still incredibly delicious.

I also took up canning last year and last weekend made two large vats of sauce, Hazan's Bolognese and Rao's Marinara. Almost 20 jars in the basement. It is great to come home and in 20 minutes have a fantastic pasta dinner.

January 4, 2013 | Registered CommenterJeff "jfood" Schlesinger

Tho this was a roundup not a ratking, there were some standouts. For me Emme of Capri and Polpo soared. Read why in Part 2

January 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLou

Went to Bar Sugo last night with my wife to try the Bolognese. Every course was absolutely delicious, thanks for the tip!

January 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGuy

Tuscany in Bridgeport.

January 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMA

Tuscany in Bridgeport is a true winner - Yum

January 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterChristina

One of my favorite dishes.

January 9, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJanet

I hope you have plans to continue this service for the best puttanesca, carbonara, tiramisu...the list is endless. Thanks for doing the "legwork" on this! Looking forward to sampling some other 'bests' at Sun WineFest's Grand Tasting at Mohegan Sun!

January 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJoann Cueva

Joann Cueva: love the idea of continuing the "best dish" report. As for carbonara, again I am a purist. So many times it is ordered and comes with tons of other things that don't belong.
The best one I've had is simple and traditional: Batali's Terry Lodge in Westport. After having this one, there isn't another I want to try.

January 10, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterfoleyd7

Love pasta dishes. I also love wine especially at the sun wine fest!!

January 16, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJen c

Spaghetti Bolognese at Bacchus in So.Norwalk was one of the best I have ever had and I've eaten it all over the world. Absolutely outstanding

February 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBob S.

Bolognese is my favorite Italian dish. I love it with Penne. My favorite in the area is the Tarry Lodge.

March 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTom O

Sagi in Ridgefield makes one of the best around.

May 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSusan McCardell

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