Cava Wine Bar in New Canaan, CT - Now a Top Pick in Town
Cava Wine Bar has firmly taken its position as one of New Canaan’s best restaurants. The pasta dishes all feature in-house made varieties with an extremely light texture, the pizza offers traditional Neapolitan styles, and the entrées include several excellent fish, meat and poultry options. Cava opened in 2004 and the current Chef, Nube Rivera oversees the kitchen and has transformed Cava to a top choice in New Canaan.
The modern décor in the dining and bar areas, the stone and brick walls, and white table cloths create a casual, yet elegant, atmosphere. Upon seating, a delectable basket of Chef Nube’s house made Focaccia and Italian bread was brought to the table. The taste and texture of the in-house made Focaccia was outstanding, especially dipped in oil.
Over the last several months I have enjoyed the following:
• The butternut squash soup was absolutely delicious. The natural richness of the squash was complemented by cinnamon and nutmeg and beautifully delivered with a topping of an almond brown butter sauce. This was one of the best butternut squash soups I have tasted in quite some time.
• The Insalata Mista of mixed baby greens included Roma tomatoes, local farm-raised goat cheese, orange sections, with a balsamic vinaigrette. This traditional salad was well prepared and the cheese was creamy and added a nice addition to the salad.
• My favorite appetizer was the crispy artichokes with shaved red onion, jalapeños, cilantro, ricotta salata and lime aioli. The artichokes were first cooked with celery and lemon and then quickly deep fried. The red onions were sweet and the jalapenos were de-ribbed and air dried to lessen the inherent spiciness. This dish was outstanding with the crunchy-sweetness of the artichokes, the slight spice of the peppers and the cooling aspect of the ricotta salata.
There are several pasta choices that that are also available as half orders:
• The Pappardelle with fire-roasted organic chicken, wild mushrooms, fresh “Fin Herbs” laced with truffle oil and shaved parmesan cheese is a must-have dish in my opinion. This version elevated the deep flavors of the porcini mushrooms and the truffle oil and the addition of the chicken made for a nice complement. For vegetarians I would highly recommend asking for this dish without the chicken for an entrée.
• The Cavatelli was prepared with Cava’s homemade fennel sausage, sautéed broccoli rabe, crushed red pepper, olive oil and caramelized garlic (slowly cooked in extra virgin olive oil in the manner of confit). I was a little nervous before I ordered this dish as many restaurants serve the rabe without removing its natural bitterness, but Chef Nube removed the bitterness by blanching the rabe. Her house made sausage contained the perfect amount of spiciness and combined with the sautéed garlic and the house made pasta created a delicious dish.
• The Fettuccini with lobster, fresh white shrimp, plum tomatoes, shallots, olive oil and garlic was prepared with both Lobster stock and sundried tomato stock. The house made fettuccini was perfectly cooked and the shrimp and lobster meat were flavorful and abundant in the dish. The diced tomatoes worked very well with the fresh basil and the lobster and tomato infused sauce added a great depth of flavor. I liked this dish and would recommend it highly.
• The Osso Bucco with Risotto Milanese was a large portion of veal with a nicely cooked accompaniment of risotto. The shank was perfectly prepared and was succulent, tender and indicated a long slow braising process. Chef Nube prepared this dish the day before it was placed on the menu which allowed for an increased tenderness in the meat. The sauce had an incredible depth of flavor and the shank contained a nice portion of marrow, one of my favorite treats.
• The newest addition to the menu was the pan sauteed Halibut with a Sicilian vegetable relish, sautéed spinach, and garnished with roasted enoki mushrooms and mache. This dish was delightful. The relish consisted of capers, red and yellow peppers, carrots, and hard boiled eggs (very reminiscent of Sicilian preparations) with a touch of vinegar and lime juice. It offered an excellent complement to the crispy, foccocia encrusted halibut. The enoki mushrooms and sautéed spinach were a welcome addition to this dish. I would highly recommend this to any fish lover in your party.
• One of the specials was a Long Island Duck prepared with Brussel sprouts, lentils and caramelized kumquats. The lentils were perfectly cooked and flavorful, the Brussel sprouts added a nice crispy element and the caramelized kumquats brought a pungent element to the dish. The duck portion included both a breast and a thigh, the duck’s skin was perfectly crisped and the meat was cooked to a medium doneness, and I would suggest asking for medium-rare if desired. The elements delicious individually, but I did not feel the blended together in a complementary fashion as the other dishes.
Cava’s pizza choices include Margarita, Broccoli Rabe & Sausage, Pollo and Fungi, and Prosciutto with Arugula. All of the pizzas were prepared by Chef Nube’s cousin, Sonia Lopez.
• The Margarita Pizza was a traditional thin crusted version that included several slices of delicious mozzarella, a few slices of tomato baked with a small amount of a pomodoro sauce and finished with shredded basil. The crust had a nice bite and Chef Lopez added a touch of caramelized garlic, which I thought added a slightly different level of spice.
• The Broccoli Rabe and Sausage was a white pizza with a touch of mozzarella. The delicious crust complemented the flavors of Chef Nube’s housemade sausage and combined with the creaminess of the cheese and the flavors of the broccoli rabe made this a great choice.
• The Pollo and Fungi pizza was another three-cheese white pizza and included oven roasted organic chicken, sautéed wild mushrooms and caramelized onions. The robustness of the garlic, the earthy flavors of the wild mushrooms and the suppleness of the chicken presented a very nice differential of flavors and textures.
After six years in New Canaan, Cava Wine Bar with Chef Nube Rivera firmly at the helm in the kitchen is serving quality food and takes a top position in the New Canaan restaurant scene.
Cava Wine Bar and Restaurant
2 Forest St, New Canaan, CT 06840
Give a quick rundown of prices for Apps, Pasta, Secondi?
Really bugs me when restaurants still do not post their prices or a PDF menu online. These days its almost as bad as the flash intro. Its 2011 put a PDF of your menu on your website.
I probably would have tried Scene/Cava already if they had. Im a young professional with an interest in food so I really try to make my limited dining budget count.
365 Old Gate Ln, Milford, CT 06460
We went back to Cava to see if it had improved. Sadly, it was pretty much the same as before.
For apps we had the mussels, the shrimp with hummus and a special octopus salad. They were okay, pretty mediocre across the board. The mussels were peanut sized, no real flavor, just doused with a very thick tomato sauce. The menu described it as "pan-seared mussels, shaved garlic, extra-virgin olive oil, sauterne wine, a hint of tomato with focaccia bread". I ordered it specifically because it said a "hint of tomato", but unfortunately there was no hint, it was a very thick sauce, no garlic or sauterne flavors.
For entrees we had the Pappardelle with chicken and mushrooms. The pasta was a little uneven and stuck together, but the flavors were good. The gnocchi with bolognese was also good, the gnocchi was very different from any we've had before, almost just balls of airy ricotta. The bolognese was done well, but I took a bite and got a large dried bay leaf in my mouth. Yuk. The last entree was the fettucine with lobster and shrimp. There was one small lobster claw and about 4 shrimp and was pretty bland overall. Pretty bad form to virtually leave out one of the main ingredients. It bore no resemblance to the picture on their website or the picture in the CTbites.com review.
Service was okay, no issues until we were done and there were about 3 waiters, ours included, leaning against the wall chatting and ignoring us as our dishes sat for about 10 minutes, waiting to be cleared. Finally a different waiter came and removed them.
It wasn't terrible, just nothing worth going back for in my opinion. Too bad, we had high hopes.
I am largely with sibeats, unfortunately.
I ordered the mussels over the weekend and I was similarly perplexed by the heavy tomato sauce. The gnocchi itself was divine, but the bolognese sauce was uninspired and flat and left me yearning for the version we make at home. My husband's sausage and broccoli raab dish was overpowered by fennel as its one and only taste. His antipasta was good, however. Our desserts were ok, and the service was quite good. Unless I am meeting a friend for a glass of wine (what a wine list!), Cava is DNR for me.
It's not that it was bad... it just wasn't really good.
1615 West St, Southington, CT 06489
Posted this on the other thread where you mentioned Cava, but figured I'd tack it on here...
Glad to hear Cava is back. What changed? Was Nube Rivera not the original chef? We went a few times when it first opened, loved it and then it just fell off. Will definitely have to try it again.