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.
Polini prides himself on using only the best ingredients. Together with his Executive Chef Eugene Jerome the two create a menu that features freshly made pastas such as tagliatelle, gnocchetti, cavatelli, and strigoloni. Domestic and imported specialty ingredients are sourced from the highest quality producers and local produce is sourced whenever possible.
Due to the size of the restaurant’s kitchen, there’s no room for a walk-in refrigerator or freezer. All produce, meat, fish, and cheeses therefore must be delivered almost daily. The restaurant boasts an extensive, mostly Italian, varietal wine program with more than 200 wines by the bottle and 20 exceptional wines offered by the glass. Unsure which to choose? Pietro and his staff will create the perfect pairing.
I had the opportunity to sample many of their offerings, each dish almost better than the next, a few left very memorable impressions. Among the antipasti, the Burrata Caprese featured an imported black truffle burrata, imported Prosciutto San Daniele, organic tomatoes, roasted peppers, shaved Parmesan and shaved black truffle topped with truffle balsamic drizzle. The salty, earthy and slightly sweet flavors married beautifully, and while it was indeed delicious, the Polpette took my breath away. These vegetarian meatballs comprised of eggplant and porcini mushrooms served in a San Marzano tomato sauce and topped with shaved Ricotta Salata were like none I had ever had, offering up a flavor that was complex combined with a texture that was velvety smooth. Decadent and comforting, this simple dish is worth returning for.
We also enjoyed sampling the Insalata di Cavoletti, a shaved Brussels sprout salad that was tossed with hazelnuts, crispy pancetta that was dressed in a truffle Parmigiano vinaigrette and accompanied with goat cheese croquettes. Wonderfully complex, slightly nutty, slightly salty. I thought it delicious, though a bit heavy on the dressing. We also enjoyed the Cesare. Grilled organic hearts of romaine, a creamy Parmesan dressing and a Parmesan crisp grissini, offers a nice twist to the classic. The romaine remained crisp with the addition of a welcome smokiness from the grill.
With much anticipation the pastas were presented to us, Paglia e fieno con carne miste e funghi, consisted of a homemade yellow and green fettuccine with mixed braised meats and organic Japanese mini mushrooms. The flavors of the sausage and mushrooms were subtle and mild, I did think the flavor could have been kicked up just a bit. The dish was beautifully plated. Pasta di Grano Arso Caprese is made from imported Grano Arso pasta made from “burnt” semolina grain and tossed in a roasted organic eggplant sauce, San Marzano cherry tomatoes, basil and imported burrata. Although it was delicious the Cavatelli Con Salsiccia, knocked it out of the ballpark. Infused with broccoli rabe, baked hot and sweet sausage, San Marzano tomato sauce and whipped ricotta, the heat of the sausage packed a powerful and unexpected punch, yet it didn’t overwhelm. With more food to come I knew I had to pace myself, but I could have stopped there and finished the entire serving in front of me.
Following suit were two beautiful platters, one of of assorted grilled meats that were beautifully cooked (lollipop lamb rack of veal, lollipop rack of lamb, Luganica sausage, duck breast, sliced skirt steak marble potatoes and shishito peppers). The second, an impressive seafood platter was presented (branzino, head on Maya prawns, calamari, king salmon, Maine lobster and local farm vegetables.) Last but certainly not least to arrive was the Polletto dello Chef, a beautifully wrapped organic chicken breast with prosciutto, baby arugula and truffle burrata, served with Peruvian mashed potatoes and sauteed baby spinach, this dish was reminiscent of a Chicken Cordon Bleu for those with more sophisticated palates.
And when you think you can’t possibly eat another bite, there seems to always be some room for dessert. How could I possibly turn down a wonderfully decadent chocolate banana beignet or an ice cream-filled pate a choux drizzled with chocolate? And the result? Well worth every fabulous calorie!
As an aside, I feel I ought to mention the exceptional olive oil which Pietro bottles and imports himself from his native Puglia and these are for sale.
3 Big Shop Lane #1
Ridgefield, CT - 203-438-5352