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Oct 7, 2009 01:14 PM

Pizzeria Molto - Fairfield

We went to Pizzeria Molto for lunch today. It was pretty bustling at 1:00, all the booths were taken, we sat at the bar. The host(/owner?) was very friendly, made small talk. It reminds me very much of Tarry Lodge, both in its menu and the large marble bar, tile floor. Very old New York looking with the red leather booths, mirrors, etc.
Seemed like there was a very high staff to patron ratio, 3 bartenders, tons of waiters, at least 6 cooks that I could see. It ran efficiently, they've only been open 8 days, but it appeared to be doing well.
We ordered the fried artichokes and the calamari white bean salad tapas to share, and then the thin crust pizza margherita to share. After a few minutes they came back and said they were out of the artichokes, so we switched to the burrata w/ roasted peppers and prosciutto. Then they came back and said they were out of the burrata...doh! So we ordered the eggplant with mozzarella.
After about 10 minutes or so they brought the two plates. The calamari was sauteed with white beans, tomatoes, in a nice little brothy sauce. It needed more salt, but they had already left s&p shakers so with that addition it was very tasty. My only complaint was that the calamari was cut in long thing strips and it was very difficult to get on the fork! You almost had to use a little bread to get it on there because you couldn't stab it with the tines...definitely a balancing act! The eggplant was okay...very small, with a little mozzarella on top and some tomato sauce. I wouldn't get that again, but then again it was my 3rd choice!
We then split a thin crust margherita. It was very nice, crispy crust, a combination of tomato sauce and fresh sliced tomatoes, red, yellow, small, large, blobs of fresh melted mozz and fresh basil. It was very good (although not as good as Tarry Lodge's guanciale fried egg truffle pizza, but few things are).
We saw a ton of pizzas going by, they seemed to all be thin crust, but I'm not sure if the NY style looks any different, so it might have been both. Everyone seemed happy, food looked tasty.
They do not take reservations, and are open 7 days a week for lunch and dinner. I don't know why people think this isn't a place for kids...(pizza? pasta?)...I wouldn't go with a 3 year old at 8:00, but I think on the early side it would be absolutely fine. We generally don't go to dinner to places that don't take reservations since we aren't big on waiting 45 minutes for a table, but we will definitely put this in our regular lunch rotation. I think they'll do really well, go try and report back!

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  1. We are planning to go tomorrow night for dinner with the kids (3&5) probably around 5:30 - we'll report back.

    1. I posted this comment on another topic related to Fairfield, so i wanted to move it over:

      We made it there on Sat night around 6:30 and stayed for at least an hour at the bar to have a drink and share a mozzerella appetizer. A few pros, cons, and other notes:

      At 6:30 the restaurant was packed and it got more crowded heading up to 8 pm. In fact, we drove back past it around 10 pm and it still looked very crowded. That's a good sign so far.
      As for the "adult crowd" comment above, I do agree that it became that way towards 8pm but when we first arrived at 6:30 nearly 1/2 the tables had families with kids eating. I will definitely bring my kids here for pizza and dinner - - though more likely on a weekday and/or before 6 pm.
      They make 2 style pizzas: brick oven and what they call "NY style". The brick oven looks very rustic even in it's shape and is thin and charred. They looked awesome. The "NY style" was not from the brick overn and was pretty traditional - - like the pies you see at good places where you can "get a slice". I think this lends itself well to foodies and families alike, especially for many kids that probably won't go for the charred brick oven style.
      The burrata mozzerella appetizer we shared was very good in texture and taste. I can't wait to try that on a pizza.
      The non-pizza dishes coming out of the kitchen looked very nice, too.
      All in all, my only slight let down stemmed from the wine. The wine list was pretty decent with several choices by the glass. Most bottles were 2.5 times retail; I really apprecaite places that keep their markups 2x retail or less - - - though there are a growing number of restaurants going 3x retail so this isn't all that bad. Also, the whites were too cold (kept in a normal refrigerator) and the reds were too warm (simply kept on the counter pretty close to the kitchen). For a place that has "wine bar" in it's namesake, I'd expect a bit more effort in properly storing and serving their wine. And maybe this is a bit too nit-picky, but I didn't like that fact that Santa Margherita pinot grigio was on this list; again, with "wine bar" in the title of the restaurant I'd expect a better effort populating interesting, good choices rather than poor, popular choices. These wine "cons" are not reasons to keep me away by any means, so I will be back again soon to enjoy the pizza, the appetizers, and the wine (just not the Santa Margherita!).

      8 Replies
      1. re: foleyd7

        I agree - pizza was very good. Everything else we tried - a salad (with gorgonzola, dried cranberries & chicken) , pasta (with eggplant & mozz), and apps (white beans, grilled calamari) were excellent as well. Wide selection of wines by the glass, but reds were a served a little on the warm side.

        1. re: Ima Foodie

          Okay, but did you have trouble getting those long thin strips of calamari on your fork too? I felt like an idiot, trying to stab them to no avail, then trying to scoop them, but they were so long they'd topple back over onto the plate...DOH!

          1. re: sibeats

            I took the scoop approach, which worked beautifully.

        2. re: foleyd7

          Finally made it back to Molto last night (Wed) for dinner and brought the kids (3 1/2 and 5 1/2).
          First, the scene: We arrived at 5:15 and were surprised to see only 2 tables taken and only a person or 2 at the bar. That would quickly change. Even with the few people, the place was VERY loud due to the music. That can be a bummer if you are looking for a romantic evening out, but it's great with kids as the occasional over-pitched yelp gets drowned out. Lighting was very dim - - fine for eating but a bit tough to read the small print menu. I saw many people using cell phones as extra lighting.
          By 5:45 pm the place was full - - - and at least half the tables had kids between the 3 - 10 age range, so we felt very comfortable there with our kids.
          By the time we left at 6:30 you could see the crowd was starting to change to an adult / bar scene: new tables were being filled by adults, the bar seats were all taken, there were people standing around the bar, and there was a wait for tables.
          Side note: There was a "flyer" in our menu outlining the upcoming Wed night music & dance themes. Apparently on Wed nights they have music and dancing starting at 9 pm. The concept seemed odd to me, but if it works for them, so be it. Not sure how they pull off dancing in such a small area - - - I'm guessing the remove all the tables towards the front of the restaurant.
          On to the food: we ordered the zucchini fritte with tomato sauce as an appetizer and 3 pizza’s for dinner: the burrata (brick oven), the sausage, cherry pepper, and mozz Scarpariello (brick oven), and a cheese with ½ pepperoni (NY Style). We asked our server about pizza size and he described the brick oven as approx 12 inches and thin while the NY Style was a bit thicker and 14”.
          Note on bread and service: I saw a note below in this thread about poor bread and poor service- - - I’m not sure if anything changed in terms of their bread supply since that post, but it was fine for us (not extraordinary bread that you would seek out on your own, but average to above-average for a casual restaurant). It was warm, sliced baguette-style bread served with red pepper olive oil. My kids ate it up and my son loved the oil. I thought the service was fine too; we were also offered another round of bread (which was brought out promptly) and we were offered water, drink refills for the kids, and wine for the adults - - - all of which arrived promptly. Maybe we just had a good server on a good night, or maybe Molto’s staff has worked it’s “early day” kinks out. Either way, service was very good.
          When the zucchini arrived my kids just about elbowed us out of their way trying to get to it - - - it was a plentiful plate that was shoestring thin and had a nice light breading to it. (I like my zucchini a bit thicker, but my wife and kids love the shoestring style.) The sauce (on the side) was pretty good too as a dipping sauce.
          I thought all the pizzas were all fairly good but I may have actually preferred the texture of the NY Style crust a bit better. The brick oven pizzas had a super thin, crispy, cracker like bottom - - they were very good for the first 2 pieces (hot) but they were so thin they didn’t hold heat - - by the 3rd slice it was room temp and the 4 slice was basically cool. The NY Style crust (though a little thicker) was still very thin; it too had a crispy bottom crust and provided just enough dough to also have a tiny chew to it.
          As for the toppings, the NY Style wasn’t anything fancy - - basic sauce and basic cheese which were perfect for my kids. The brick over pizzas had much better topping selections. The burrata cheese was very good when hot as you really got a taste of creaminess from it. The sausage, pepper, and potato pizza came with a bit of mozzarella too. The potatoes (bigger than diced - - kind of like chunks) added a very creamy texture while the sausage and peppers brought a little heat. I would actually have preferred more heat from the sausage and peppers, but that is just me. I liked that both of these brick oven pizzas were very lightly dressed with mozzarella so you could clearly perceive the other elements and toppings. Overall they were enjoyable, but I think both were lacking just a touch of something (salt? spices in the sauce?) that could have elevated them from good to great.
          As noted in my last post, the red wine we ordered was once again served way too warm. I really think this needs to be corrected especially for a “wine bar”.
          But all in all it was a VERY successful night out with the kids and we will keep this on our list of places to return for a family (pre 6 pm seating) night out.

          1. re: foleyd7

            Nice review...we've never had service issues, but we've only been for dinner once, and lunch about 5-6 times...maybe it's more hectic at dinner. As for the bread, I like it, I don't think it's changed since it's opened. The oil has a nice spice and the bread is chewy and tasty. We love the burrata pizza, but I agree that it does get a little cold by the end. Last two times we've had the sausage and broccoli rabe pizza (brick oven), which is very good.

            1. re: foleyd7

              Made it back last night (Mon) for our 2nd dinner visit with kids and overall we had a good experience.
              We arrived at 5:45 and the outside tables were already completely full. The inside tables were 75% full too. We ended up sitting inside but right near the open windows along the sidewalk, so we still got a little of the nice breeze coming in. The outdoor seating here was really nice and we'll be back to do it again - - - though we may have go before 5:30 with the kids to get one of those tables.
              The crowd was well mixed - - parents with an infant in a stroller at a sidewalk table, college-aged kids, families, and both young and old couples. This place is really drawing all demographics right now.
              A few posters have complained about service on this thread and others, but in 4 visits (2 for dinner, 2 at the bar for appetizer & drinks) we have never had a service issue. We still have an issue with red wine being WAY too warm, but I've written enough about that above already.
              We did notice a big change from our last visit: the menu was no longer split with 1 set of Pizza's in the brick oven style and another set in the NY style. Now there was a single list of Pizza's that could be ordered either way. I recall the old brick oven list had some interesting pizza's on it that were no longer options on this revised menu, which is a shame.
              Anyway, we had the fried zucchini again and a shrimp / garlic / bean appetizer. Zucchini was great again. Shrimp appetizer could have been better if the garlic wasn't on the overcooked side - - which then dominated the flavor of the whole dish.
              The pizza's we shared were a basic NY style with 1/2 pepperoni for the kids and then the burrata (brick oven) and a special brick oven pizza with pink vodka sauce and grilled chicken. The burrata was very good - - best when eaten hot (these are very thin pizza's so they cool quick). The NY style was perfect for the kids. The special pizza was a little lacking in flavor - - mostly stemming from an underseasoned pink vodka sauce.
              We all shared some gelato and tartufo for dessert.
              Some of the dishes coming out of the kitchen looked good again, especially an orchiette dish I saw come out at least 3 or 4 times. One of these times I'll give a non-pizza dinner a try.
              All in all another good experience with the kids and we'll be back again this summer to try and land an outdoor seat.

              1. re: foleyd7

                I agree, it's a good place, we've never had major service issues although there is one waiter there who kind of drives us a little nuts with his lackadaisical attitude.

                We've only been for dinner once, but go for lunch often, probably been there 10 times.
                I noticed the menu change as well last time, but didn't think they got rid of any pizza options, just combined the list. From what I remember, it was basically the same list on both kinds of dough anyway. Which ones are no longer available?

                We usually get either the burrata or the broccoli rabe, sausage and roasted tomato on thin crust. Both are very tasty. My daughter got the pasta a few times...the shrimp with vodka sauce...I thought the flavors were very good, but every time the pasta was just a little undercooked.

                1. re: sibeats

                  I don't recall which pizzas seem to be missing - - - I just remember thinking there were a lot of brick oven pizzas I wanted to try on my 1st visit but then not so much this time. I could have sworn there was a white pie or 2 on the original menu.
                  Almost went for the rabe/sausage/tomato pie but chose the special instead (when deciding between a menu item and special I lean towards the special - - - figuring I can always come back and get the menu item another time.) Next time the rabe/sausg/tom pie makes the cut.

          2. Experienced Molto last week...I love the decor but I hate the purple lights and the single chandelier, I agree with Sibeats about the same look as Tarry Lodge, almost a copy, and I love the old movies running on the white wall...packed when we went (monday night, new restaurant)...the service was pretty seemless I must say, they def. trained before they opened which a lot of places don' for the food...had the burrata it was good but not the true Italian creamy burrata that you can get, the one they are serving is bellgiosso, I had the mini eggplant as well that should have been my third choice! Ordered the sunday sauce pasta, the meatball was really good but the sauce on the pasta was extremely acidic, don't know what happenend there but it was NO GOOD...ordered one of each pizza, the NY and the thin crust, both were very good, sauce and mozz were really nice, and the crust was one of the best I have tried in awhile, MILES AHEAD of rizzuttos in westport that just for the wine list, it was very short and sweet with no real standouts, for a 'wine bar' they need some for the comments on wine mark ups 9 out of ten restaurants work on a sliding scale from 2x-3x the wholesale price which is about 1.5x less the retail price...I wish them luck, I will return many times for the pizza!

            3 Replies
            1. re: mcllmlathd

              I forgot to mention the big wall...unfortunately we had Rachel Ray and the Food Network, not old movies! That sounds like much more fun!

              1. re: mcllmlathd

                These wine prices were definitely 2x retail or more. Santa Margherita was in the 40s (I think high 40s, too). 1.5x wholesale would put it on the list at $35 at most. I also recall the St. Hallet from Australia being nearly 3x retail.
                I would love to see places 1.5x retail, but I rarely see those anymore; too often it seems that 2x retail (or more) is the norm these days.

                PS: For the owners who are reading these posts: The website needs to be updated. It still says "coming soon".....

                1. re: foleyd7

                  I think I was not clear enough on the wines....example.....btl (suggested) retail is $13.50 the wholesale price would be $9 so restaurants are marking up between 2 and 3 times the WHOLESALE price so $9 btl would be between $18-$27 and most restaurants would pour that by the glass for $7-$9...BTW santa margherita wholesales for $19.99 so $40 is a great price, I have seen it on lists for $60+...most people put it on the list because of the name recognition for the folks whom do not know a lot about wine...if you are wine savy stay away from santa margherita.

              2. Weird.
                About a month or so ago I posed a question about this restaurant when I noticed that "racanelli" was listed on the wine liscence permit before Molto was open. I asked if it was part of the Racanelli restaurants in NY (Pizza&Brew, etc) and there were a few responses, but now my post and the corresponding replies are no longer on chow.
                Anyway, I have found info online that this is part of the racanelli restaurant family. I've seen mixed reviews on their NY restaurants, but it appears this CT one is showing some promise. Let's hope it stays that way.

                1 Reply
                1. Just came back from lunch...shared a caesar salad and burrata pizza with the hubby. Yum...can't get enough of that burrata. They were packed as usual, seem to be doing a great business. Nice, casual, tasty food. A nice addition to the lunch rotation.

                2. Didn't see your post, or I would have commented here before posting above. I was impressed with the place, and the server said they own a restaurant in Stamford- Lucky's?
                  If so, a very different concept.