It has been a roller coaster first year for @Bar Rosso in Stamford. Given the renewed level of excitement for this stylish Italian food and wine bar, I decided to return and investigate the buzz. And I am glad that I did.
The totally revamped menu, designed by the new operating managers Giovanni Gentile and Rosario Procino, presents more casual and traditional Italian selections. More importantly, the new management team has brought in a supremely talented pizza maestro, Giuseppe Quattromini, a trained Italian baker from the Puglia region of Italy, and he is serving one of the best pizza crusts I have ever tasted. It was thin, yet crispy and strong enough to hold the toppings without folding; soft, light, and airy in texture, baked in a traditional 750-degree wood burning oven. The end result was outstanding. I ordered a pizza with spicy salami, pecorino, tomato, house-made mozzarella and Calabrian chili oil. The mozzarella was delicious and the salami was even better (perfect spiciness). This was a great pizza and the star of the new menu.
Over the course of several visits I sampled a number of the new items:
My favorite dish was the Cavatelli Funghi e Salsiccia; a house-made cavatelli pasta with shitake mushrooms and sausage, topped with a simple combination of garlic and oil. The cavatelli was perfectly cooked to al dente. I very much enjoyed the sausage (a must try it on a pizza next time) and the sliced shitake mushrooms added an earthy quality to the dish. The chef's decision to dress the pasta with a simple oil and garlic allowed the flavors of the pasta and sausage to remain the focus of this excellent pasta dish.
The Seafood Salad included mussels, clams and calamari highlighted with a touch of lemon. I enjoyed the crispness of the light lemon flavor that complements the well prepared shellfish. The kitchen carefully balanced the vinegar taste in this dish and allowed the seafood and lemon to work simply together.
I also enjoyed the Fennel Salad with oranges, arugula, and lemon with a mild vinaigrette dressing. The contrast of the peppery arugula, the slight “licorice” aspect of the fennel, plus the sweetness of the oranges was a very good combination. I recommend asking for the dish to be lightly dressed or have the dressing on the side.
The Eggplant Parmesan was several stacked pieces of breaded and fried eggplant, a touch of the @Bar Rosso red sauce plus a small amount of melted cheese. As much as I liked the flavors of dish, I think it would have benefited from crispier eggplant slices.
The Pappardelle with a Bolognese sauce was very good. The pasta had a good texture, with just a slight bite in the flavor. The pasta was rolled very thin and the sauce was a mild Bolognese, with a perfect amount of sauce to accent the meats. The sauce was a little on the sweet side, and a little more acidity may have brightened the overall flavor, but it was a very good house-made Bolognese. In addition, given the excellent flavor and texture of the pasta, I would have preferred a slightly thicker pappardelle to work with this Bolognese.
Many of the desserts are still a work in progress but ordering any of the wonderful flavors of gelato brought from the next door neighbor, Volta Gelateria is an excellent idea. However, all of the bread at @Bar Rosso is house made and quite good.
As @Bar Rosso celebrates its first anniversary, it will be intriguing to watch how the casual Italian focus that Giovanni Gentile and Rosario Procino bring to the menu and the outstanding pizza being prepared by Giuseppe Quattromini expands.
Bar Rosso 24 Spring St, Stamford. 203-388-8640