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Are there any real Italian restaurants in Fairfield county?

Trying not to hijack the other thread on Italian in Fairfield...

Can anyone recommend a non-generic and non-overpriced Italian restaurant? (like via emilia, babbo, cace y vino, etc, in NYC). So far I've been to Via Sforza and Pasta Nostra. YAWN! Totally unimpressed with both. Completely generic Italian cooking and way overpriced. I can make pasta with shrimp and tomato cream sauce or spaghetti alla norma in my own kitchen, and better than at these places. $24 for pasta all norma at Paci? I can get authentic lasagna bolognese at via emilia in NYC for $16, or Beef Cheek Ravioli with Crushed Squab Liver and Black Truffles at Babbo for $23. Please, rescue me from the wasteland of Fairfield County Italian cousine!!!!!!

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Pasta Nostra
116 Washington St, Norwalk, CT 06854

Paci Restaurant
96 Station St, Southport, CT 06890

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  1. Not exactly sure what you mean by "real" Italian, since the food of Venice, Siena, Rome, and Palermo are all "real", and all quite different, as mario B will tell you.

    Bearing in mind that this is coming s an Italian (American)who cooks at home much more often than he dines out, and who rarely goes out for Italian, I have not eaten at, but have heard good things about 2 restaurants in the lower FF county area.

    For more typically southern Italian (but definately NOT red checked tablecloth/red sauce/candles in fiasco faux-Southern-Italian American style), I've heard good things about Emme of Capri in Stamford:

    http://www.massimoofcapri.com/

    Also, jfood, a widely read and respected area hound speaks very highly of Aloi in New Canaan, which features Italian more in the Tuscan and Piedmontese style. And he raves about their Bolognese:

    http://www.aloirestaurant.com/index.html

    I can't personally vouch for either, though.

    Good luck

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    Emme of Capri
    227 Summer St, Stamford, CT 06901

    Aloi
    62 Main St Ste 4, New Canaan, CT 06840

    1. I've always liked Robertos in Monroe, tho haven't been in a while

      3 Replies
      1. re: BiscuitBoy

        Based on Tubulus' reference to Beef Cheek and Squab Liver I don't think Roberto's is for him.
        I haven't been to Robertos, but my understanding is that it falls under the "large portion, red sauce" Italian type of food.
        There are so many definitions of what people consider "real" or "authentic" Italian because Italy is so big and has so many variations of what is considered normal.

        1. re: foleyd7

          beef cheek, squab liver...fru-fru, trendy fusion stuff. You're right, foley! I was thinking more of a moderately priced kind of place. As an Italian American I guess I have my own definition of authentic.

          1. re: foleyd7

            I've been to Robertos several times (not by choice ) - definitely will not fit the bill for what the OP is looking for

        2. Biagio's Osteria in Stratford doesn't do crushed squab liver, but he makes very good, fresh food.
          http://www.biagiososteria.com/home.html

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

            1. La Zingara in Bethel.

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              La Zingara
              8 P T Barnum Sq, Bethel, CT 06801

              2 Replies
              1. re: DMW

                I second La Zingara. It's now my go-to special occasion Italian place. Especially in the warmer months when you can sit outside on their back patio. They also have a farm in Dutchess Cty where they grow their own vegetables for their salads and sides - very nice, very fresh).

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                La Zingara
                8 P T Barnum Sq, Bethel, CT 06801

                1. re: scapegrace

                  As a follow-up to the outdoor patio... they have a great sunday brunch. $25 for three courses (starter, main, desert) and all you can drink bellinis or bloody mary's, plus live music. It's great any time of year, made even better by sitting on the patio during lovely weather :-)

              2. In answer to the topic question, there are just about NO "authentic" Italian restaurants on this side of the pond.

                Restaurants in Italy feature regional cooking, items you'll almost never see at an "Italian" restaurant here.

                I lol-ed once when walking by a "Tuscan" restaurant, asked them if they have Ribollita, and they went "huh?" (Ribollita is ubiquitous in Tuscany, a regional bread soup).

                Usually my rule is to particularly beware of restaurant menus in Italian. These are especially UN authentic.

                Check out this menu, this place is ABSOLUTELY authentic, Ligurian regional.

                http://www.magiarge.it/menu.htm

                1 Reply
                1. re: menton1

                  So.... what are your top places to eat out for Italian, even if they aren't classically authentic?

                2. I think you're going to need to cross the border in Port Chester and go to Tarry Lodge. Chef is formerly of Babbo and the pastas are basically Babbo-esque dishes (though I think toned down for a more suburban crowd).

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: HungryInRowayton

                    Sorry H, but to call anything at TL Babbo-esque is a real stretch in jfood's opinion. It's good, but way not Babbo. Similarly the former sous chef from TL is now at Rocco's in New Canaan, and it is a faaaaaaar cry from Babbo.

                    Need to manage expectations.

                    www.ctbites.com

                    1. re: jfood

                      J -- i agree with most of what you post, but I think you're wrong on this. I think it's fairly clear that TL's and Babbo's dishes are conceived by the same chef, albeit made more accessible. I know it's only one example, but the brasato at TL is straight off the Babbo menu.

                      And I don't think your comparing Andy Nusser to his former sous is a fair parallel; Nusser opened Babbo and brought the same skill set to TL (I don't know anything about the former sous).

                      To be clear, I don't think TL is in the same league as Babbo (though they're both tougher to get into than a Pearl Jam concert in 1994), but I think it's as close as you're going to get in the 'burbs.

                      1. re: HungryInRowayton

                        then we agree to disagree. TL and Babbo are nowhere close in quality and food. The food that Andy prepared for jfood at Babbo (if he was in the kitchen) was superb and the TL food was all sizzle and no beef.

                        Good news is that undr the new brakdown, TL is not jurisdictionally within this board so we can focus on good Italian in FFD. If you ask people if TL is the best in the FFD Cty area, not sure you would get a large majority.

                        And jfood is sure you would not equate difficulty in getting in and quality. Case in point is 5-guys and Pepes. Now back to good food in FFD County.

                        www.ctbites.com

                  2. I will second the recommendation of Biagio's in Stratford.

                    1. Authentic Italian (+ regional) vs conjured up Italian...Now that would be a thread

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: BiscuitBoy

                        Been talked about ad infinitum for years on food boards. Boils down to folks that have actually traveled to Italy vs. the Olive Garden & red sauce defenders.

                        As I said above, the deadliest formula for fake Italian is a menu in Italian. Beware!