We love Fortina. Christian Petroni and Jodi Bernhard's wood fired Italian kitchen is arguably the best around. Only trouble, Fortina is not really “around” It lies off in Armonk, New York, which for most of our readers is a haul, a long drive over narrow and twisting Back Country trails.
Grazie a Dio. We are happy to report that Fortina is coming to Stamford's booming Harbor Point. Late last week they signed a contract for a soaring, sun splashed space on Washington Avenue, facing Commons Park. According to Petroni and his partners John Nealon and Rob Krauss, the restaurant will feel like Armonk, but be different.
"It's like a Fortina snowflake," Chef Petroni explained. "Once you get closer to the snowflake, it's completely unique."
Nealon added, “We hate the idea of building a cookie cutter Fortina.”
The three talented partners are designing the space themselves, eschewing an interior designer. They will take a minimalist approach and envision a polished concrete floor and bar, flanked by grand, floor to ceiling windows.
“We’re not trying to change the world with our design," Petroni said.,"We want it to be simple and timeless.”
As for the menu, it too will feel like Armonk with all the homestyle dishes we have come to know and love: fried meatballs, charred wood fired pizza, and their signature Pork Braciole with Sunday Sauce. But there will be new, casually hip offerings.
Petroni feels there's a deep talent pool in the area and looks forward to finding a gifted Chef de Cuisine to oversee a collaborative kitchen.
Like Armonk, Stamford Fortina won't include freezers or walk in boxes, thereby challenging the kitchen to be creative and resourceful every morning. The menu will salute traditional Italian cooking; yet remain modern, inventive, and even whimsical.
Why Stamford? The partners all hail from Connecticut and appreciate its culinary tastes.
“It's great to be a part of Stamford, a city which is currently seeing such rapid growth,” Krauss told us. “Harbor Point is a huge part of that growth. We’re excited.”
As we reported last year, Jon Sabrowski of Bujilding and Land Technology, the developers of Harbor Point, has been huniting for a high end Italian to compliment the diversified restaurant portfolio he has carefully curated. He courted Fortina for months
"I was determined to show them what we were doing down on the waterfront," he confided. " In food terms, they were the missing ingredient in an otherwise great recipe."
Stamford Fortina should open early next year. We’ll be around.
Incideny Fortina will also be opening in Rye Brook