Terra Sole: Ridgefield's Hidden Gem

Amy Kundrat

Tucked behind one of Fairfield County’s most charming Main Streets, Terra Sole in Ridgefield beckons. If the weather cooperates, a 70-seat outdoor patio is your best bet. A steady weekday lunch crowd belies this restaurant’s not-so-best kept secret–a weekday prix fixe Italian lunch.

Pietro Polini, the owner along with wife Lana, is a constant welcoming presence at the restaurant that pulls its culinary influences from the entire length of Italy. You’ll often find Pietro attentively scanning the dining room and patio and recommending dishes and wines to diners. Although he hails from Northern Italy, he and his family have owned restaurants from Puglia to Rimini.

The “Express Lunch” is offered Monday through Friday, a two-course meal for $15 or toss in a glass of wine for another $6. Grab a few people and you can virtually eat through this entire menu if you’re willing to share nicely.

To begin, Per Cominciare, a selection of soup and salads beg you to begin. Soup of the day, an organic field greens salad or grilled romaine heart were the latest offerings. The latter, a large wedge of romaine heart, is lightly charred and topped with a creamy and peppery parmigiano dressing. This dish is a home-run. Simple flavors made complex with the barely cooked crunch of romaine.

The lunch courses offerings include: a choice of Ravioli of the Day, homemade Maltagliati– an uneven shaped cut pasta with cherry tomatoes in a light tomato sauce, PEI mussels, or Grilled Calamari with a lemon olive oil and peperoncino and thyme ruled the day. The selection often seems based on menu staples, as the calamari is a favorite among frequent diners.

At this point, I veered off the prix-fixe plan of attach and split a tried-and true dish, aptly nick-named “Pietro’s Signature,” the Cavatelli con salsiccia di latte ($15). This homemade cavatelli is made with broccoli rabe and baked with hot and sweet sausage, a thin layer of tomato sauce and finished with ricotta salata. Another tempting pasta dish, the Tagliatelli Bolognese Con Ricotta ($16) is a rich dish tossed with a “three meat San Marzano ragu” and whipped ricotta. Tasting my companion’s dish, this is joyful albeit hearty Italian comfort food. If you can’t decide among the eight pasta offerings, Terra Sole lets you diversify by ordering a duo, or a trio of pasta for $20 or $25, respectively.

Beyond prix fixe and pasta options, Terra Sole offers a few other dining options including “Wine Bites,” an antipasti menu that pairs well with wine for a light meal, to a diverse lunch and dinner menu. A steady after dinner crowd stops by on weekends for occasional live music as well as drinks and snacks before or after a Ridgefield Playhouse theater engagement.

Lured in by the prix fixe but won over by the signature dishes, Terra Sole in Ridgefield is a not-so-hidden Italian gem.

Terra Sole is located at 3 Big Shop Lane in Ridgefield. Visit http://terrasoleridgefield.com or call (203) 438-5352. Terra Sole is open 7 days a week for lunch and dinner from 11:30am to close.

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