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Southern/western Connecticut basic Italian

What it the very best place within driving distance of Stratford Connecticut (southern/western Connecticut) that has really great Italian food? I'm not looking for expensive/snobby places that serve small portions - I want great lasagna, spaghetti and meatballs, ravioli, and garlic bread - those types of dishes. I want the kinds of dishes that an Italian Grandmother would make.

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  1. Roseland Apizza has really good homestyle Italian, and, as an added bonus, the pizza is incredible. If you live near Route 8 in Stratford, it's a very short drive.
    http://www.roadfood.com/Reviews/Overv...

    1. We have a summer home in Milford and one of our favorite informal, home style Italian places is Aldario's on Naugatuck Ave. While the menu has gone a bit more upscale in the past few years (upscale as in a bit more adventurious, not more expensive!), there are all of the requisite traditional Italian dishes on the menu.
      Of particular note is an excellent zuppa de clams - a whole bunch of clams on what must be a pound of linguini - for around $16, and the frequent lobster specials - lobster fra diavolo w/clams and mussels for less than $20.
      Large portions......very moderate prices....and good food - not a gourmet destination, but when we're craving good, traditional Itanian fare, it is our favorite place.

      1 Reply
      1. re: lsnhc

        What about meatballs? I want the best with the best gravy or sauce, help, any suggestions closer to Stamford?

      2. I second both Aldario's and Roseland, but Roseland has an advantage -- it really is owned by an Italian grandmother. Her son does most of the cooking these days; but she makes the sauce and bread during the day and supervises most nights as well.

        1. I 3rd for Roseland. I had the most incredible pizza ever there 2 weeks ago. OMG..I can still taste it, it was that good!

          1. I think I will be trying both places - Roseland and Aldario's. Seems like a lot of Chowhounds recomend Roseland and it's not too far from where I'll be. Aldario's is almost walking distance from me. I will have to try that as well. Anybody familiar with Armellino's? I ate there this past summer and they have been in their location onBridgeport Ave for a number of years. I thought the food was about average+, but the atmosphere is nice and the people working their are so nice we will probably go back.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Whitemarshjohn

              Armellino's is okay - your impression pretty much matches mine; though my office uses them mainly for takeout (pies). The hubby has eaten there a few times; no raves, but also no complaints.

              1. re: harrie

                I agree with harrie. Both Armellino's and Aldarios are close to our summer home, and I much prefer Aldario's - I think it's better food at better prices.

            2. I would also agree with Roseland. Another good choice would be Gabrielles on the Post Rd in Orange. Right by the Christmas tree shops. Very good Zuppe de Clams, Panne cotte appetizer is also excellent

              1. I like Roseland also. Pay particular attention to the specials board (like you could miss it if you wanted to... you'll see what I mean...)

                I think the fresh specials are the best dining options. Also, if you like root beer...try the birch beer!!!

                2 Replies
                1. re: TrishUntrapped

                  Mike's Ristorante in Norwalk - it's not so much a "red gravy" type of Italian place - but it's the best traditional Itallian food around. They are a husband and wife from Italy - the pasta is made fresh - it's out of this world.

                  1. re: annemarie115

                    Oh - I totally forgot...Ralph n' Rich's in Bridgeport!

                2. We went to Aldario's last Wednesday evening as a second choice - we were going to head up to Roseland Apizza but the weather got kind of ugly and it was getting late and Aldario's was closer. I had fogotten that I had been to a banquet at Aldario's a couple of years ago and was impressed. Wednesday evening did not dissapoint. The three of us had dishes from the evening's specials and everyone was very satisfied with their dish. The bread that was served before the meal was nice and the service was great. Check was only $55 for 3 people. Thank you for the recomendation - I would definately recomend Aldario's and will be back. Also, I still want to try Roseland and some of the others recomended here (I'm looking for basic Italian, nothing haughty) - I'll have to see if Roseland Apizza is open for lunch tomorrow. I'm surprised nobody has mentioned any places up in New Haven. Thanks for all your help.

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: Whitemarshjohn

                    Roseland is closed Mondays, and only open for lunch on Saturday and Sunday. It's been a little icy in the Valley, so you probably made a smart choice. Glad you enjoyed Aldario's. Just so you know, your check might be a little more at Roseland's than at Aldario's, but you'll have delicious leftovers for days.

                    Roseland also takes plastic (this is a semi-new thing), but IIRC, for some reason they can't put a tip on plastic, so it's a good idea to bring some cash.

                    1. re: harrie

                      I was just visiting family in Milford and had lunch at Palermo's Deli, back where the back entrance to Harrison's Hardware used to be. I didn't have meatballs, but I did have chicken parm and arancine, and both were amazing. As good as my nonna's were. I can't imagine the meatballs could be anything less than awesome.

                      1. re: ctscorp

                        Harrison's Hardware brings back memories. I knew someone who worked there while in Highschool...back in the late 70s. It's sort of sad to see Mom and Pop places like that go.

                        1. re: Whitemarshjohn

                          I know, so sad. I always loved the crooked floors and the way the place smelled... all woody and warm. I hope they do something good with the space.

                        2. re: ctscorp

                          Palermo's makes an excellent eggplant parm as well, and their prosciutto di Parma is like buttah. I always forget about them, being tucked back there. A very nice Italian deli.

                          There's been some speculation about the demise of Harrison's, and also about the future use of the site. One of the rumored potential uses is, of course, restaurant space; which makes me wonder what the saturation point is for restaurants in downtown Milford. You can already make a pretty good food/pub crawl through the area.

                          1. re: harrie

                            I found myself in Milford at lunch time today and Roseland Apizza was closed - it being Monday, so we tried Palermo's behind where Harrison's hardware was because of ctscrop's recomendation. We both had a chicken dish with mushrooms and provolone cheese which was very good. Also included were rice and Italian bread. Everything was very good and I would recomend them when you're in the mood for quick and good informal Italian dishes for lunch.

                    2. Try Romas in Oakdale which is above Waterbury.Small place and not expensive but hard to get in so make a reservation.Excellent food in a nice setting with a loyal following.IEverything is excellent.I like the Veal Milenase.

                      3 Replies
                        1. re: Whitemarshjohn

                          Sorry Oakville.Actually on Davis street.

                          1. re: Emory Palmer

                            I went to Roma's a few weeks ago with my husband. We had been given a gift certificate that I wanted to use. When we arrived our table was ready. It was the first table on the left as you walk into the small dining area and the 2 chairs were both directly facing the kitchen door. So every time someone went into or out the door we were both looking into the kitchen at the kitchen sink. Now, I know they only have so much space, but it seems to me that a customer probably wouldn't want to be staring into the kitchen the whole time they are trying to enjoy a nice dinner. I was going to speak to the maitre'de as we were leaving, but he wasn't there. I have been there several times and the food has always been very good.

                      1. Try Grace's Kitchen on the Branford/East Haven line. It's as casual as it gets, but the food is excellent home cooking. The owners are from Capri. The Calamari ala Grace (red sauce, artichoke hearts, calamari & olives) is excellent. It's BYOB so pick up a bottle on your way. For zuppa de pesce, homemade soup (two choices daily) eggplant parm, or the occasional stuffed artichoke appetizer special it can't be beat.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Fati

                          Thank you Fati. I found a website for them. Looks like they are worth a try too. I found their website.
                          http://www.graceskitchenonline.net/gr...
                          Thank you also Emory Palmer. I found this about Roma's:
                          http://local.yahoo.com/details?id=106...
                          I hope to try most or all of these places.

                          1. FYI, I don't know where harrie got the information that Roseland is only open for lunch on Saturday and Sunday. That's not true. I've been there many times on Saturday and Sunday evening for dinner.