The intersection of Locust Avenue and Forest Street in New Canaan will be in full restaurant mode again in a few weeks when Locali Pizza Bar and Kitchen, a tribute to Napolitano pizza and small plates, opens in the space that formally housed Kouzina. The restaurant is brainchild of Joe Bueti, whose previous restaurants include 121 in North Salem, Strega in Pleasantville and his current location in Mt. Kisco, Village Social. Bueti is teaming with business partner Anthony Legato in this new venture. Overseeing the kitchen is Chef Mogan Anthony, the current chef at Village Social, and a former participant on “Chopped.” Chef Mogan’s background includes working under Chef Jean Georges Vongericthen in three different locations and a stint at the Bedford Post under New Canaan elm restaurant’s Chef Brian Lewis. The redesign is fully in process and their aim is an inviting, more intimate atmosphere that will deliver classic food and Neapolitan dishes.
The interior has been completely renovated with a full wood-art wall, new tables, chairs and a redesigned bar. But the most impressive change and addition to the interior is the 12,000+ pound ceramic-encased Stefano Ferrera Italian wood burning brick oven that proudly stands at the entrance to the kitchen and can register temperatures exceeding 1,000 degrees. Designed to bake classical Neapolitan pizza in minutes, the menu will feature both classic recipes, a Margherita pizza, plus inventive creations that may include a wild mushroom combination or a spicy Soppressata pizza with a little spiced honey. Small plates might include creative dishes featuring Chef Mogan's innovative use of octopus, calamari and Burrata.
With Chef Mogan nearby in Mt. Kisco at Village Social, I decided on a road trip to give our readers an idea of some items that may appear on the menu. The trip was worth the journey as the food that Chef Mogan served was outstanding. I started with the Salty Pretzel Crusted Tuna; a sliced, slightly seared wedge of tuna that sat atop a spicy kimchi aioli. This was one delicious dish combining salty, spicy, crunchy, soft...all great together. Another light, small plate, the salt roasted beets with whipped ricotta and orange slices was fantastic. The earthiness of the beets were beautifully offset with the sweetness of the orange segments and the whipped ricotta added a creamy texture. Another outstanding dish was a small plate of sliced skirt steak with onions over mashed potatoes. The medium rare steak was rubbed with a slightly spicy Japanese seasoning and paired with rich and creamy mashed potatoes.
Since Locali will feature Neapolitan pizzas, I asked which was the most popular at Village Social, and the server told me the "Sunny Side Egg." When it arrived I was anxious to try Chef Mogan’s red-sauced creation that included mozzarella cheese, Prosciutto, a sunny side up egg and then topped with a few slices of truffles. This was an excellent pizza with a fabulous sauce, great mozzarella and the egg and truffles adding additional decadence. I would have preferred slightly less saltiness from the prosciutto. Save room for dessert. The Salty Caramel pie was a tribute to sweetness. The filling was a smooth caramel-custard and the crust was a perfect complement to the sweetness of the filling. It was served with a scoop of mild-flavored vanilla ice cream that offset the sweetness of the pie and created a great balance.
With the countdown to opening a few weeks away, stay tuned as CTbites returns to sample Chef Mogan’s new creative dishes at Locali.