Valentine's Day Dinner Around FFLD, CT
I am looking for a restaurant for Valentine's Day in or around Fairfield. Could be SONO, Westport, Southport, etc. I have enjoyed eating at places like 55 Degrees, Barcelona, Martel, Cafe Lola, and Sarabande (before it closed). I like a good wine list and will pretty much eat any kind of cuisine.
Thanks for the suggestions.
Paci - Southport
Lianna's Trattoria - Fairfield
Outside of Pasta Nostra in SoNo, these are my favoirte Italian places to go.
Both have EXCELLENT wine lists. Lianna's is 100% Italian. Paci's is Italian dominated, but has other regions, too.
Pasta Nostra also has an awesome wine list (100% Italian). In fact, the owner of Pasta Nostra is often at Lianna's helping her with the wine list (Lianna used to work at Pasta Nostra many years ago).
Lianna actually worked at Paci too after Pasta Nostra and before opening her own place. She used to make the desserts at Paci.
We like Paci very much. Not big fans of Pasta Nostra...last time we went the food wasn't very good and the ambiance is meh.
Osianna in FFLD is nice. We love sharing all the small plates.
I wouldn't recommend Via Sforza though...had 2 very bad meals there, doesn't compare to any of the other places mentioned in my opinion.
I've got to get you to go back to Lianna's for a 2nd opinon and try some specific things.
Ricotta gnocchi - - - best anywhere.
Best calamari linguini - - calamari is so tender.
There is a spicy pasta she makes - - - just some shaved hard cheese, pepper, crushed red pepper, oil and garlic. Sounds to simple to be excellent, but that's what makes it excellent.
excellent appetizers (especially the eggplant)
very good, simple veal milanese.
excellent wine list.
excellent coconut / chocolate dessert.
Ambiance? Not romantic. But the service, the music (classic Italian), and Lianna patrolling the dining area all make up for it.
re: Ima Foodie
We went a couple of times. The first time I honestly don't remember, just thought it was okay italian. The second time I ordered the roasted peppers with mozzarella, it came and it was 4 huge slices of mozz with 4 huge slices of pink cardboard tomatoes and a few little strips of roasted pepper. The tomatoes were not in the description, and they were just awful. I don't understand why a restaurant would serve tasteless tomatoes like that...so immediately my overall impression went way downhill. After that I had linguine with clams...and quite honestly the odor of them was so unnappealing I wasn't sure I could eat them. The other dishes at the table were just uninspired in my opinion. I've heard others here like it though...it just doesn't compare to Paci or Pasta Nostra for me.
re: Ima Foodie
Here were my notes from my last (of 3) visits. I will add that I liked their pizzas on previous visits but we didn't have any on this trip in Jan 2008:
Via Sforza used to be a nice little Italian place tucked into a strip mall in Norwalk that was one of our favorite places to go. It's hard to find location kept it a gem that only those "in the know" would get to. The food was also impeccable, well prepared, and classically simple. Nothing illustrated this more than their basic spaghetti pomodoro. The spaghetti was perfectly cooked, it was well tossed (lightly, not swimming in sauce) with a freshly prepared sauce that was accompanied by the right touch of oil and basil. It sounds almost too simple of a dish to order out, but it was perfect. Ditto for most everything else on the menu.
Then in 2006 things began to change. First they opened up this dramatic Tuscan inspired restaurant just a few miles away in Westport. About a year after that, they closed the original location and moved solely to the Westport location. We've been to the Westport location 3 times and this trip in Jan 2008 was likely our last. I have nothing to go on with this guess, but I've gotta believe the chef from the former location has no connection to the new location. Just like the setting is over-the-top, so too is the food.
"On this trip, Liz had a lentil soup as an appetizer while I had a 1/2 order of pasta. For dinner Liz ordered gnocchi in a tomato sauce while I had a veal chop sorrentino. Only the lentil soup was a hit (more on that later).
My pasta consisted of fresh black linguine tossed with shrimp and calamari and olives and garlic and tomato and white wine. Too many ""ands"" in that statement. Each component was decent, but there were too many flavors going on. This could have been much simpler, with less ingredients and more balance. Liz's main course was on the menu as gnocchi in a meat sauce with fresh mozzarella. she asked for the dish with just a marinara (not meat) sauce and the mozzarella. She got the marinara, but no mozzarella. And the marinara was not special at all... nothing resembling the fresh pomodoro sauce of the former location."
The veal of my main course was tender, but could have been cooked less as it was close to well done - - - in fact, they never even asked me how I wanted it prepared. It also came with too much prosciutto and mozzarella stacked on top of it such that I had to take some off so the veal could be tasted. Again, the ingredients were all good, but it was a bit overdone. We ended up passing on dessert.
"I saved the soup for last because surprisingly, this was excellent and simple. It was not loaded down with cream, it didn't have any bacon or meat weighing it down, it wasn't too thin or too thick, it was really just simple and nice. In fact, it inspired us to go home and make our own lentil soup the following day.
Outside of the soup, their pizza is also very good which we have gotten on prior visits. It has a very thin crust and comes straight out of the brick oven seen as you enter the restaurant. Their marguerita with fresh mozzarella is a winner, but not enough to keep coming back for dinner."
Finally their wine list: Completely underdone. The prices aren't cheap (2 1/2 x retail) and the listing was not that extensive. Considering how they went over the top on the setting and the food combinations, I would have hoped they at least went over the top with a large selection of wines. Selecting an Italian wine to go with veal and pasta, I would normally lean to a barbera, dolchetto, or something of that nature, but none were to be found on the menu. I ultimately selected a Montepulchiano that was good, but the list overall could use work.
Finally, their food pricing was also a bit high. If the prices had been relatively affordable, this could be a place to try now and again in hopes it keeps improving, but for the cost and quality, we'll be staying away for a while.