An insider's view of the Connecticut dining scene
Apr 7, 2014
09:23 AM
The Connecticut Table

Ross' Bread in Ridgefield: Great Bread, Pastries, Sandwiches, Soups, Quiche ...

Ross' Bread in Ridgefield: Great Bread, Pastries, Sandwiches, Soups, Quiche ...

When Ross and Valerie Schneiderman (below) set out to open an artisan bakery and café in their hometown of Ridgefield, they did so with a feeling rather than a blueprint—that feeling of walking along a cobbled European street, baguette tucked under arm, surrendering to a whim for a cappuccino in a delicately kept café. The California natives knew the simple pleasures of a café from time spent abroad visiting Valerie’s sister in Italy — and they knew nothing like it existed in their Fairfield County town. 

The idea originated with Ross’s bread-baking hobby, picked up a decade ago as a side project to his career in the sports television industry. He sought a hands-on way to pass the time, but little did he (or his wife) know the natural skill he possessed. Before long, their home was brimming with traditional European breads. Gifted loaves became commonplace as the family of four (the couple has two sons) couldn’t eat any more bread. Time and again they would be told they really should open a shop. 

One year of selling at the local farmers’ market proved the potential demand for their product, and in 2009, they opened the doors to their own quaint café, Ross’ Bread, in the Marketplace at Copps Hill. Five years later — they’re celebrating their anniversary in May — everything that has always been good about this eatery remains. (Below, a sandwich with homemade artisan bread, fresh mozzarella, basil and tomato.)

“You could always eat on a real plate or drink from a real cup and spend 10 or 15 or 45 minutes and enjoy exceptional quality coffee, loose leaf tea and handmade pastries,” Valerie Schneiderman says of what they hoped the café would be. 

A stream of hungry patrons flows continuously through the shop — some regulars stopping multiple times a day for their morning caffeine and afternoon lunch break —and it has been this way since the beginning. A far cry from the modest expectations the owners had when they opened. “We really thought we would sell breads and muffins and have two people behind the counter,” says Schneiderman, who also owns the yoga studio, The Yoga Shala. But Ross’ Bread is much more than that. They do sell handmade bread and pastries, yes, but also fresh-made sandwiches, soups and quiche. 

Everything that can be made in-house, is. That includes pulling their own mozzarella, marinating their own vegetables, roasting their own chickens and making their own mayonnaise and hummus. “This is the expensive, hard way to do it,” says Schneiderman. “I’m sure there are plenty of easier ways to do things.” 

Ross’ Bread employs three full-time bakers who create over 20 varieties of bread including baguette, caraway rye, cinnamon raisin, challah, gorgonzola fig walnut and the popular sweet earth. Pastries include bread pudding, brownies, croissants, pain au chocolate, sticky buns and assorted muffins and scones (above left). Soups rotate monthly — during April, for example, it was ginger carrot. And sandwiches change with the freshest ingredients. The Caprese sandwich, with house-made mozzarella, marinated tomatoes and basil, is popular in the summer. 

Other options currently on the menu include roasted beet, herbed goat cheese and arugula with balsamic reduction on sourdough, Berkshire ham and brie with Dijon mustard on baguette, and curried chicken salad on multigrain. (Below, a fritatta.)

Items are only sold when they’re ready and fresh — that means not every item appears in the case every day, and when things are sold out, they’re really sold out. Ross’ Bread doesn’t own a microwave or a freezer. 

In the Marketplace, Ross’ Bread is just one of a cluster of independently owned food-centric businesses that includes 109 Cheese & Wine, Ridgefield Organics and the newly-opened So Good Vegan Café. “We all work well together,” says Schneiderman. “When one of us is doing well, we’re all doing well.”     

Ross’ Bread, 109 Danbury Rd., Ridgefield, (203) 438-4822rossbread.com. Open Mon.– Sat. 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sunday 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

 

 

Ross' Bread in Ridgefield: Great Bread, Pastries, Sandwiches, Soups, Quiche ...

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