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Entries in Italian (97)

Sunday
Aug212016

Taberna Mediterranean Tapas and Wine Bar in Fairfield's Brick Walk

I have an affinity for those underexplored sweet spots that are slightly off the beaten path, tucked away, or unheard of. For whatever reason, Taberna, a Mediterranean tapas and wine bar located in the Brick Walk in downtown Fairfield hasn’t been widely discovered. Although I hadn’t heard of it many have, and those who have sing its praises.

Some of you might be familiar with the name, thinking it’s not in Fairfield, it’s in Bridgeport! And you would be correct, sort of... Prior to opening the Fairfield location, Chef Daniel Lopez and his brother Jaime owned and operated the Bridgeport restaurant for 8 years. Upon hearing that it was closing, longtime diners were happy to follow to the new larger venue with light-filled dining area, large bar and outdoor patio.

I was able to sit down and chat with Chef Lopez who was born and raised in Ecuador who revealed to me that he had been enamored with the flavors and cuisines of the Mediterranean since he was a child. In 1994 he and his brother emigrated to the states and immediately began working in the restaurant industry - for many well-known Fairfield County favorites.

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Wednesday
Aug032016

Sneak Peek at Spiga Ristorante: New Italian Opening in New Canaan

Many residents of New Canaan have been eagerly awaiting the opening of Spiga Ristorante in the space that formerly housed Barolo restaurant on Main Street. The wait is almost over. In the next two weeks, Spiga will unveil its newly revamped interior, offering a wide variety of Italian cuisine in a relaxed environment. CTbites was invited for a sneak peek and discuss the vision of the restaurant with two of the owners, Dan Camporeale and Rose Dionne. This is the first restaurant for Rose and the fourth restaurant for Dan, who is also one of the owners of Pizzeria Molto in Fairfield. Spiga will be his group’s first restaurant in New Canaan. When I asked Dan why he chose New Canaan he mentioned, “There is no true Italian restaurant in New Canaan. The space has a lot of positives and there is plenty of parking directly across the street.”

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Sunday
Jul312016

TerraSole, A Small Italian Eatery in The Heart Of Ridgefield 

Unless you’re a resident of Ridgefield you might not be familiar with TerraSole, a small Italian eatery in the heart of Ridgefield. But I feel it is my job to extol the virtues of this sleepy little gem that has been part of the town’s landscape since 2007, and is poised to enter its second decade with quiet confidence. I was invited to join a group of writers and editors to visit TerraSole and nearly declined. Am I ever glad I went!

When the weather is nice, diners can now sit outside in the newly completed terrace. The pale blue interior is simple yet charming. It is the food that takes center stage and rightly steals the show. While locals are avid fans, non-locals should take note. This charming yet understated destination is well worth the drive.

Owner Pietro Polini, who hails from Puglia and moved to the states in 1999, infuses the region’s flavors into his dishes.

 

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Tuesday
Jun212016

Solid Choices at Tavern 489 in Glenbrook, Stamford

The newest addition to the Glenbrook neighborhood is Tavern 489, located at 489 Glenbrook Road, sharing the building with the newly relocated and reopened Tawa Restaurant (reviewed here). The building has a long history in the neighborhood, it originally housed the Moosehead Bar decades ago (thank you “Hey Stamford”).

The brainchild of owners Eric Monte and Partner/Executive Chef Regis Saget, Tavern 489 offers an eclectic menu, paired with various beer and wine selections in a rustic environment. The fully redesigned interior emphasizes wood and stone to create an setting reminiscent of an Adirondack mountain lodge, complete with exposed M-Trusses, a canoe dangling from the ceiling, a full front-to-back 18-seat wooden bar, additional wooden high-top tables plus a large wooden “picnic” table, all drawing focus to the imposing floor-to-ceiling stone fireplace in the rear. The walls are adorned with photos of Ernest Hemingway who, in addition to winning the Nobel Prize in Literature, was, according to Monte, the ultimate outdoorsman, a true man’s man, and his photos fit the rustic, outdoorsy feel that he was striving to achieve. 

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Sunday
Jun052016

Dere Street: Newtown’s Crossroads of British and Italian Cuisine

High atop a hill, near Newtown’s historic flagpole, lies the intersection of Church Hill Road and Main Street. And there, you’ll find an entirely different type of intersection—one where British and Italian cuisines meet. The concept was inspired by the original Dere Street, an ancient Roman road in Northern England, built in the first century A.D. To honor this historic place where British and Roman cultures intersect, the two cuisines are now celebrated at Dere Street in Newtown.

Past the 1800s building facade, it’s contemporary, whimsical and positively humming with other diners and imbibers. Home to 28 different gins, an abundant “British wine list” of single malts, beer and a selection of cocktails so unique, you’d be wise to arrive thirsty. Bring your appetite, as well as an open mind. If you’re a gin lover, this is the closest spot to heaven on earth you’ll find anywhere near here. And if you’re a vodka drinker? Well, they do have one brand, just in case they can’t convert you. Keeping with the British theme, it’s Broken Shed from New Zealand, a former colony. But they’d sure love to try to turn you on to gin.

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Sunday
May222016

DiFiore Ravioli Shop: Three Generations of Italian Cooking, In Hartford & Rocky Hill

Most people look forward to taking it easy and traveling in their 60s. But at age 62, Andy and Louise DiFiore had a different retirement plan in mind. They opened DiFiore Ravioli Shop on Franklin Avenue, in Hartford’s Little Italy back in 1982.

Their son Don explains, “My parents were always the home gourmet types. Back in those days, they weren’t called foodies, but they had a lifelong love of food. My dad had been an executive in the office machine world almost his whole life in sales and marketing. And he was probably looking at this more as being a retirement thing for income. Just like a little boutique store. But they stayed with it. My dad would be in the store until he was in his late 80s. And my mom stayed in the store till she was 90. She’s 95 now.”

Then, about five years ago, Don’s father was in a nursing home and his mother was getting too old to run the store any longer. They were going to close it. Then Don’s eldest sister came back home from Chicago to help. “She threw the option at me—do you want to do something with it? Geez, I don’t know.”

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Tuesday
Feb092016

Liuzzi’s Gourmet Market In North Haven: A Well-Crafted Bridge to Italian Foodways

Anna Bendiksen is new to the CTbites team. Anna is a former scholar of Russian literature, and a food blogger over at threecoursesonaweeknight.blogspot.com or follow her on Twitter @anna_bendiksen

When Domenico “Dom” Liuzzi talks about artisanal cheesemaking, his eyes light up.

“Quality is what sets us apart from Stop and Shop,” he said in a recent conversation at Liuzzi’s Gourmet Market---not that anyone could mistake his store, which carries over 200 cheeses, for anything other than the Greater New Haven landmark it is.

The cascades of Italian speech in the air, the display cases featuring Liuzzi’s own house-made cheeses, the scent of cured hams and sausages hanging overhead, the attentive staff darting about---all combine to make Liuzzi’s a prime destination for foodies from Connecticut and beyond.

The cheeses for which the store is best known---the result of the family’s cheesemaking heritage stretching over a century---are its burrata (favored by Mario Batali), a caciocavallo (“cheese on horseback,” so named because it is strung in rope to drip dry), and two kinds of ricotta (whipped and large-curd).

Yet the cheese offerings at Liuzzi’s, located in North Haven, don’t stop with these house-made specialties. You’ll also find imported Grana Padano (a cheese similar to Parmesan that is favored by Italian children and a standby in Lidia Bastianich’s new cookbook Mastering the Art of Italian Cuisine); Moliterno, a raw sheep’s-milk cheese exquisitely scented with black truffle paste; the best of American artisanal cheeses such as Humboldt Fog; and many more. 

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Wednesday
Dec022015

Basso Café Restaurant in Norwalk Adds Wine Bar + New Menu

Several years ago CTbites visited Basso Café Restaurant on New Canaan Avenue in Norwalk and was very impressed with many of the dishes created by Owner / Chef Renato Donzelli. Since that time Chef Renato has maintained his vision of creating a wine bar to complement the food, and that is now a reality as Basso Café Restaurant is now Basso Café Restaurant Wine Bar.

The interior has been updated with large, vibrant paintings along one wall, smaller modern pieces along the other wall overseeing the 60 seat dining area. The lighting is soft and inviting and acoustical tiles have been installed to reduce the noise level. After the recent receipt of a full liquor license, guests can now benefit from Chef Renato’s pairing of wines to balance the vibrant flavors of his cuisine and the rear of the restaurant now showcases the bar area with a selection of personally selected spirits, including organic vodkas. 

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Tuesday
Oct202015

Breaking News: Fortina in Stamford Opening This Week

Grazie a Dio. The long wait (and drive to Westchester) is over.  Fortina is ready to rock in Stamford’s  Harbor Point.   Luigi Bianco Pizza, welcome to Connecticut!

Expecting to begin serving any day (as soon as they get their Certificate of Occupancy),  partners John Nealon,  Christian Petroni, and Rob Krauss invited CTBites to stop by for a sneak peek before the official opening.  

Actually that debut won’t be so formal.  Nothing soft.   No Friends and Family.  Not even a ribbon cutting.  Just a sigh of relief.  “When we open the doors, we’re open,”  Nealon told us.  

That’s because everything is set, the menu (almost identical to Armonk), the staff (many from Rye Brook and Armonk),   the kitchen (the same wood fired ovens from Naples and charcoal grill from Spain) the playlist (specialized  for Stamford’s millennials and empty nesters),  and yes,  hundreds of those familiar San Marzano cans just waiting to boost their pizza trays with a luscious Luigi Bianco.   The whimsy is waiting. 

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Sunday
Sep132015

Joe Bruno Closes Pasta Nostra and Opens Audacious Bruculino in South Norwalk

With the debut of the sleek and sexy bruculino in South Norwalk, Joe Bruno finally presides over a true restaurant.  "Pasta Nostra was never meant to be more than a lunch spot," he says of the venerable store front that served as the anchor of the Sono culinary scene for 30 years. The place was getting old; Bruno wasn’t getting younger; it was time for something youthful, vibrant, and new. 

bruculino (Italian slang for “Brooklyn dude” – as in the person of Joe Bruno) is certainly all that -- and more.  Imagined by renowned Westport architect Roger Ferris, the glassy new space at 20 North Main is dominated by a fetching forty foot terrazzo bar that is flanked by 23 neon-red Lucite seats, all staged in what was once a furniture store.  For now, the bar is a lavoro in corso (still under construction), but Bruno will soon be mixing an array of spirits and craft cocktails in addition to the well curated wine list he brought over from Washington Street.   He also brought his entire staff from PN, both the back and front of the house. 

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