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May 26, 2010 09:14 AM

Restaurant - Derby, CT - Arthur Avenue Chef? River Restaurant or Lucarelli's?

I read an ad in a newspaper recently for a restaurant in Derby in Wal-Mart Plaza that has brought a chef from Rigoletto's on Arthur Avenue in the Bronx, my favorite Arthur Avenue restaurant. I cannot remember the name. The only place (or restaurant space) I can think of is the River Restaurant which has expanded in the last couple years. When I google River Restaurant, it comes up Lucarelli's. I'm going to ask around; in the meantime, any CHs know the details? I wonder if someone took it over and/or if there is a new chef, if the menu will be changing. The River Restaurant was always such a homey place.

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  1. A coworker just confirmed. . . Same Lucarelli owner, just a name-change. I may have to venture over there to check it out. I love Rigoletto's, so if the chef is from there, may be worth a visit, especially for veal. Surprising as The River Restaurant name is such an institution in the lower Valley. Everyone remembers that horrible explosion back in the day.

    2 Replies
    1. re: cheereeo

      Lucarelli bought the River Restaurant from the Ippolito family in 2008. Unfoirtunately, Lucarelli's restaurant experience is that he owns some Blimpie's and Coldstone franchises.

      I went to Lucarelli's website,,,,many pages not developed, especially the contact us, and a major turn off to me:
      Menu's with an apostrophe. why must Italo-Americans in New Haven County use apostrophes in plurals????????????

      I was a regular at the River's old location, but found the new restaurant cold and sterile.
      Decent but not great food.

      I think Lucarelli is trying to make this too pretentious for the hidden corner of a WalMart strip center in an armpit of a town.

      I guess I've insulted a few groups now <VBG>
      However, I 'm always happy to make the trip to Artghur Avenue for a good meal and greatr food shopping.

      1. re: bagelman01

        Bagelman: "I think Lucarelli is trying to make this too pretentious for the hidden corner of a WalMart strip center. . . " This is exactly what my coworker said who frequented The River quite a bit during the week. She commented that hopefully the prices will stay down, and they will still offer the midweek deals that get a lot of locals in. If they overprice in that area, it will not survive.

    2. Interesting - according to this

      there are three partners, one of whom is Lou Nistico. His family used to own the Arrow, right near Exit 17 in Westport, and still owns the Red Barn right off Exit 41 of the Merritt. I was trying to determine whether this Lucarelli is related to the Roseland Lucarellis, but it doesn't say.

      BTW, that website cracked me up - Derby has a historic shopping and arts district? (said with affection, I live there


      Red Barn
      292 Wilton Rd, Westport, CT 06880

      2 Replies
      1. re: harrie

        Lou Nistico is NOT a partner...anymore. He left the restaurant about a year ago, followed by the third partner, Tom Baklik.

        1. re: SaltySweet01

          Well, that's even more interesting, then - thanks for the heads up. Like bagelman, I liked the old River; don't know if I'll be heading to the new one any time soon.

      2. I just saw an ad in the local paper that the head chef was leftover from the old River Restaurant. He was an Ippolitto, the original owner,s son. I have not been here since the Ippolitto's sold it awhile back. I tried going in on one dead sunday afternoon but no one came over to seat us so we just walked out and halfway into the parking lot someone came out after us asking if we wanted to be seated and we said no and just kept walking towards the car. People saw us waiting to be seated but kept walking by so we figured they didn't need our business!