An insider's view of the Connecticut dining scene
Apr 25, 2014
07:57 AMThe Connecticut Table
Delicious New Tuscan Flair, Wood-Fired Pizzas at Arrezzo in Westport
Arezzo Ristorante & Bar has undergone a facelift—and change never looked (or tasted) better.
Renovations at the waterfront restaurant in Westport include the addition of a brick-faced wood-fired oven and a sleek wine bar dressed in dark wood furnishings and featuring cosmopolitan brown leather chairs and ottomans. Though they look great, the renovations at the restaurant are about more than just aesthetics. The flames of the new pizza oven are fueling a new line of Neapolitan style pizzas (above), including a classic Margarita pie with fresh tomato, basil and homemade mozzarella, and Pizza Contadina, a tasty and unusual combination of organic eggs, mushrooms, fontina cheese, truffle oil and Prosciutto di Parma.
In late April the restaurant hosted a media dinner that Connecticut Magazine attended. During the evening the restaurant flexed its culinary muscles and treated food writers and other members of the media to a terrific evening that showcased the best the upscale dining spot has to offer, including an assortment of tasty apetizers (below).
The restaurant was purchased last September by a team of experienced restaurant industry veterans, restaurateur Juan Ceballos and chefs and brothers Vinicio, Sergio and Bolivar Llanos. These men have been working together for more than 20 years. Their foray into the restaurant world began under the guidance of famed Italian Chef Pino Luongo, who in the 1980s and 1990s helped popularize Tuscan food. In the years that followed, the house manager and brothers worked at a variety of New York dining hot spots including Le Madri, Centolire and Coco Pazzo. Their professionalism shows in their Westport restaurant.
The beautifully lit wine bar (below) has the feel of a hip and upscale New York City lounge. Though a great location for a date, it’s not so hip and upscale that it’s pretentious—during our visit a baseball game was playing on the bar’s TV.
The global wine list highlights Italian wines and winemakers, and there’s also a small but well-curated selection of bottled beer available.
From the bar we made our way into the dining room, which seats 60. It overlooks an outdoor patio that can accommodate up to 150 people and overlooks the Saugatuck River and offers panoramic views of the river and the Post Road bridge leading into downtown Westport.
Dinner began with a pair of salads; watercress and pear salad with gorgonzola cheese, almonds and red wine dressing, and a standout radicchio salad topped by truffle vinaigrette. Subsequent courses included artichoke and fresh fava bean ravioli with yellow tomato fondue; pan-seared pink snapper with sautéed Parisian vegetables and organic chanterelle mushroom sauce; and braised short ribs (below) served with spring vegetables with farroto, or creamy farro. The presentation of the meal showed off the Llanos brothers' creative use of flavors and flare for dramatic presentation.
The evening came to a close with a desert featuring a rustic apple tart with olive oil ice cream (which is far better tasting than it may sound to some). The ice cream was complimented by a slice of Nutella pizza, which served as a wonderful nightcap.