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Suggestions for good italian near New Haven, Ct?

I'm looking for suggestions for a good italian restaurant not too far from New Haven - i know New Haven pretty well, but rarely go out for Italian (I'm typically a member of the "don't go out to eat something that you can cook yourself" school of thought!) What do people recommend? Last time I think I went to L'Orcio which I enjoyed quite a bit - but there are all these places in wooster square (no, i'm not looking for pizza) like Adriana's and Tre Scallini - what do people think?

Also, I had an underwhelming experience at Porto Fino on State Street (state and bishop i think) when they first opened and haven't been back - am i missing out?

And what about Italian (or any other, come to think of it) recommendations near New Haven - let's say a 15 mile radius or something like that?

Thanks so much!

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  1. Try Antonio's in East Haven, good old school Italian. Very tasty red sauce.

    1 Reply
    1. re: chefstu

      chefstu is right, Antonio's is good. I would not recommend Adriana's though they did change ownership since I was there last. Quattro's out in Guilford is good, Also, a fairly new restaurant Bonterra opened in Southington is worth the few extra minutes drive

    2. A friend who lives in East Haven sent me the names of a couple of places in East Haven that he likes. Tollis and Apizza Grande, sorry I cant tell you exactly where they are . but Im sure you could find them. Earle Ct.

      1. L'Orcio is great, you should go again!

        If you want to try something non-italian and outside New Haven, try Bistro Basque in Milford.

        4 Replies
        1. re: EastRocker

          I 2nd that recommendation - Bistro Basque is great! You won't be disappointed. Italian is great, but this is even better.

          1. re: joan mar

            What about Tony & Lucille's on Wooster Street.

            1. re: joan mar

              I've been hearing alot of good things about Bistro Basque. Where exactly is it?

              1. re: ctfoodguy

                It is right at the end of the Milford Green (the side closest to The Stonebridge). There is a parking lot across the street, which I believe is free. Definitely try it.

          2. Tre Scallini would be my first choice after L'Orcio. We've had many an excellent meal there. Tolli's and Aniello's in Eat Haven are supposed to be good but I can't recall I've been to either of them... I'd skip Tony and Lucille's. I've had the prerequisite three meals there to say, "You can do a lot better."
            Biagio's Osteria, in Stratford is a place I've been meaning to try because of the positive comments and reviews. Looks easy to get to.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Scargod

              definitely do try it-Biagio's is great.

              1. re: Scargod

                This was our first visit. Biagio's Osteria is really easy to get to via The Merritt/Wilbur Cross Parkway/Highway 15. It's right there at exit 53. Also it's very close is Highway 8. Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation is on the other side of the Merritt from it.
                Make reservations! Being a Wednesday night, at 6:40PM, there seemed to be business dinners at several tables. In the other rooms long tables of people were gathered. They were fairly busy, at near capacity for a brief period. It was not noisy. It fairly well cleared out by 8PM. If people talking business bothers you, you might mention it when asking for reservations and not go till 7:30 or so. It did not bother us much, but sometimes business people can be loud and talk incessantly. Incidentally, the two tops are quite small. If you are large, big eaters or will be ordering a lot at one time you might try asking for a four top.
                On to the food:
                We had a nice Super Tuscan, moderately priced at $38. We received a basket of mixed breads and a plate of hummus with very fresh and delicious Bruschetta.
                The appetizer menu is very interesting with just a few of the usual suspects like fried calamari. We started with spinach, mushroom and parmesan cheese crepes. They came with a nice orange based sherry demi glaze. See pictures. Just delicious and with a little different, almost Asian flair because of the sauce.

                SO had Taglietelli pasta with wild boar bolognese. This contained truffle pecorino, fresh nutmeg and opal basil. The broad belts of freshly made taglietelli were splendid. The bolognese sauce was as good as I have had (or made myself). A huge plate of food; we both loved it and the flavorful and slightly chewy chunks of boar and the contrast with the tender pasta. So much food that the remnants and a salad made dinner for us last night. It really could serve two or three.

                I had veal Wellington. It was an excellent tasting dish except that a third of it was overcooked. The maître d’ came by very promptly and asked how everything was. I mentioned that it was cooked almost medium, not medium rare. She offered to replace it. I said no, because it tasted so good that I was enjoying it as it was. As I got to the middle of this super tender piece of meat I found that it got rarer and rarer as I progressed. Only one side was overcooked, so I was very happy in the end. Our waiter came by and apologized, as well! I thought the single, silly little twice-cooked mashed potatoes, pretending to be a potato, was a little chintzy. Two or three would have been appropriate! The plate was beautiful with a decorative reduction that seemed to have balsamic vinegar as a key ingredient. Notice the dark ribbon on the left side of the plate. The beef was topped with a nest of fried angel hair pasta.
                We shared an exquisite and creative version of Mille-feuille. We were given complimentary limoncello drinks with dessert. A nice touch.
                This was a really good meal in a very nice restaurant with very attentive staff. The only faux pas was not crumbing the table after the plates were removed. It needed it on my side!
                I'm sure we will be back to this restaurant very soon. An excellent meal. Total: $136

                Biagio's Osteria
                88 Ryder's Landing, Stratford, CT 06614

              2. ANTONIO'S IS A MUST...I recently went there on a Sunday early afternoon and the chilean sea bass was perfect! Service was outstanding.

                1. I would suggest Campania Ristorante or Assaggios in Branford. Also, there is a new restaurant in Branford, Brunellos, where Tenderloin's used to be, but i haven't been there yet, so don't know whether it's good.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Shoreliner

                    Brunello's is the same owners/chef as tenderloin, they just changed the name/menu

                  2. I've had consistently good food and service at Tre Scallini and recommend it. They also have a very good and reasonable wine list. Not much for decor, or innovation, but they do an excellent job with the "Italian standards" of veal, chicken and shellfish.

                    If you want something less "familiar", try Skappo. Mostly small-plate dining, but very authentic, rustic Italian fare that transports you to a farmhouse in Tuscany instead of a red sauce parlor in Naples.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: FoodieJim

                      I'm really appreciative of the contrast about Skappo, since I have not tried it. Now, I will!

                      1. re: Scargod

                        Having lived in New Haven my entire life, one thing that I have never had a shortage of is the availability of good Italian food, and the reality is that what is considered "good" in New Haven would generally be considered to be "great" in most other places.
                        One of our favorite "under-the-radar" choices in LoMonaco's in Branford. The food is consistently well prepared, the portions are very ample (and a very nice house salad is included with all entrees - it would easily cost $5-7 elsewhere), and the prices are amazingly reasonable.
                        Additionally, there is a very interesting, well thought out and realistically priced wine list.
                        This is not "fine dining," but most of the food is comparable to many restaurants significantly more expensive.

                        1. re: lsnhc

                          Cool! Thanks CHowhound buddy for the tip!

                      2. re: FoodieJim

                        Actually Umbria... the family is from Umbria

                      3. Nello's La Cantina in Milford -- a little off the beaten path but worth a visit. Small and intimate, a real old-fashioned Italian restaurant. $7.95 pasta specials weeknights -- and you will have enough for lunch the next day!

                        1. Tre Scalini on Wooster - their pane cotto appetizer would feed an average family of four, and their specials, about 5 on any given weekend, are worth the listen. After, a short stroll to Libby's for a cannoli or a "lobster tail " pastry for the intrepid rounds out a great italian daily double. And Libby's stays open late in the summer. And Scargod and I have moved past Leon's and Aunt Chiladas, I think (? )... :)

                          6 Replies
                          1. re: Veggo

                            I don't remember mixing it up over Leon's.. I think I've moved past those, though I still don't mind getting in a few licks on a ripe ol' dead horse!
                            I tell you what, youngster: Your story about golfing when you were young moved me so much that I would buy you a beer, any time, any place (especially sitting outside at Chiladas).
                            Besides, I'm from Texas; what do I know about Italian? Perhaps you could teach me a thing or two on the finer points, since you grew up in the area.
                            I'm going to have to double-dip on Wooster Street and have a cannoli at Libby's. I love a good cannoli! I guess they don't have bear claws? :(

                            1. re: Scargod

                              For the record, the New Haven Area Yelpers have roundly rejected Libby's as a decent cannoli spot. Tho' there is no real consensus on where you CAN find a good one . . . I favor Zuppardi's, where they don't fill 'em until you order 'em.

                              1. re: zoe p.

                                Wouldn't Lucibello's rank 1 or 2 for cannoli's?

                                1. re: Veggo

                                  Yeah. Some people do favor them. I don't, really.

                                2. re: zoe p.

                                  I've said this over and over: I'm a Texan. Though I grew up in Dallas (not out in the sticks), I don't consider myself an Italian food expert. I ate at a few, good places downtown before I moved to CT. I love Tre Scallini. I have enjoyed L'Orcio and have eaten at Scoozi many times. Since I'm/we are not usually big on desserts it's rare that I've had a cannoli. I still thought something was wrong when I got a soggy, cold in the center, cannoli from Leon's... I presume it sat in a refrigerator for a while? Is this common?

                                3. re: Scargod

                                  Scargod, thank you for the kindly sentiment. It would be a privilege to someday host you and your husband for a nightcap at Mansion in Turtle Creek. I had 8 very pleasant years in Texas along my peripatetic journey. And the few who still refer to me as "youngster" are those who shouldn't be buying green bananas...

                              2. If you don't mind the short trip down the Merritt, I can't recommend Biagio's high enough. Fantastic food, relaxed atmosphere, solid wine list. As Scargod rightly notes above, it is super easy to get to.

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: bcsuka

                                  I have been meaning to try Baigio's as well, and yes it is in a strip mall off exit 59 on the Merritt.
                                  Gabrielle's in Orange is another good choice. The Zuppa de Clams is very good, and my SO loves the Gnocchi

                                  1. re: mmalmad

                                    You are mistaken about Biagio's location. It is very close to and just off exit 53 on the Merritt. It is not in a strip mall, but more of a small shopping center. It's tucked back in the middle; a very nice area.

                                    1. re: Scargod

                                      The center where Biagio's is located is called Ryder's Landing, if that's any help. Also a huge fan of the place, and headed there next week.

                                2. Total concurrance with Antonios East Haven. A newer pleasant surprise has also been Campagne (sp) at the east end of Branford- excellent. Lastly would be Miltons in Guilford- not far from Chowder Pot on rte 1

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Ctcomfort

                                    Technically Milton's is in Branford. 764 E Main St, Branford, CT - (203) 481-5170‎. Looks like about a mile off I-95. Easy to get to. That's good.
                                    Thanks for the suggestions!

                                  2. My suggestion would be one of my old standbys, La Scogliera. They used to be located in Bridgeport for almost thirty years but moved to Shelton about a year or two ago. They're located right on Route 110 (River Road). The place is run by a husband and wife team. Nothing out of the ordinary but they usually come up with some very interesting specials. I haven't been to the "new" location but my wife and I plan to visit them tomorrow night. By the way, I've been told by a co-worker that if you give them a few days notice you can request something not ordinarily on the menu, like rabbit, for instance, and they will more than likely accommodate you. I'll have to ask if that's true. Here's their website.