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Fairfield County Neighborhood Italian Restaurants-Solid Food with reasonable prices

Along with all the downtown trendy Italian restaurants in Fairfield County, there are a good number of neighborhood Italian restaurants that consistently serve solid food (with some flair and innovation) at reasonable prices >>entree with salad/pasta/bread in the $16-24 price range.

These restaurants are not fancy, and not overly large, but consistent, clean and usually leaving the customer full and very satisfied. No greasy red sauce taste.

A few of our go tos...................

Franco Gianni's .....Trumbull--Long Hill Green
Maione's...................Fairfield---Stratield Rd
Stella's......................Stratford--Accross from Sikorsky

All of these reputedly are pizzarias, but their pizza is NOT the winner, their cooked meals are.

Please share your neighborhood secrets in the rest of the county.

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  1. funny - I think of Stellas as a greasy red sauce place. Cinzano's in Fairfield fits the bill though of solid, non-trendy Italian.

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    Cinzano's
    1920 Black Rock Tpke, Fairfield, CT 06825

    1 Reply
    1. re: Ima Foodie

      Like Cinzano's, but have only been there for lunch. They do not give both pasta and salad with an entree, but a choice of either pasta or salad. Nice decor.

      Stella's has very good Milanese, Marsala, and Picatta, I don't order red there.

      -----
      Cinzano's
      1920 Black Rock Tpke, Fairfield, CT 06825

    2. You just gave away our "secret". We eat there twice a week. The only thing I would change are the hours. They close the kitchen at 8:30 weekdays. There pizza is the best around, as well as their fried calamari. Their staff is friendy, and service is great.

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      Franco Gianni's Pizza
      8 Broadway, Trumbull, CT 06611

      1 Reply
      1. re: barbaract

        Yes, you must dine early, full up by 5:30 deserted by 8:30.

        Don't agree about their pizza, since I'm a New Haven native I find it much too thick. I drive up 25 to Julian 'sfor my Apizzza.

        My brother comes from Milford every week just for their Pasta Fagiolo, complains that they won't sell nit by the quart to go, only as dinners. Today's his 65th birthday, and I order a massive qty for him as a borthday gift.

      2. UPDATE>>>>>
        It's November 2012
        Franco Gianni has gone downhill. Ate there last Saturday night. Wife had the cheese ravioli, like clay. I ordered Ziti and meatballs. The meatballs were fine, the ziti was half cooked. SIL ordered eggplant Parm which was solid grease. Bro had Linguini in red clam sauce. Filled with overpowering uncooked garlic and overcooked pasta.
        MIL ate dinner there last night, Eggplant Parm was all grease and bitter. So after dining therfe weekly for many years we won't be back.

        Stella's in Stratford. Robert Irvine did his Kitchen Impossible stuff and turned a good neighborhood Italian eatery into a cute restaurant with terrible food and poorly trained staff.
        Greeted by the overly loud mother. Seated in a booth that was uncortable and not clean.
        Wife ordered the Black Bean Soup ($6) which was hot and fresh and good, and the eggplant sticks, Eggplant sticks were bitter as hell, and when you cut into them the hot oil poured out. Absolutely inedible. Brother orded veal parm with spaghetti, SIL orderede Linguini with white clam sauce and I ordered The crispy eggplant parm woith cappelini.
        Server brought and served our meals.
        I took one bite of the eggplant and announced that this is crispy, but I've never tasted eggplant like this. Of course not, it was Veal Parm. So Bro handed me my dish (which he had tasted and not liked). The eggplant was NOT crispy, but mushy and greasy. The cappelini was overcooked and drenched in tasteless red sauce and inferior, slightly melted cheese. Bro said his veal parm was burnt. SIL has asked if the clam sauce was fesh and was told yes it was made with fresh clams. NO, there were 4 clams in the shell on top of the plate, but the chopped clams were from a can or bucket, NOT fresh. Salads were ok, byt the cucumber slkices appeared frozed.
        Best part of the meal was the bread basket.
        Serveres were ill trained. constantly interrupting and asking us to lift and hand them dirty dishes. While have after dinner tea, the server bothered us repeatedly to hand her dirty plates, etc. I told her, you can clear after we are finished, stop interrupting us.
        We shall NOt return and advise others to avoid Stella's. Robert Irvine, you blew it>

        So, the only one on last year's list that is still good is Maione's in Fairfiled.

        9 Replies
        1. re: bagelman01

          We stopped going there summer of 2011. They have poor air conditioning. We were hot and asked them to turn on the overhead fans. Two 16 year old girls said they were cold, (what the heck?) They turned off the fans. We decided that if they valued the two 16 year olds business more than our twice a week check with big tip, we would take our business elsewhere.. We now enjoy Jennie's in Monroe. Also, when we feel like spending $$, we go to La Scogliere in Shelton. It is REALLY good, and they make a mean drink, too. But, Jennie's is BYOB, and their food is very good, so we go there more often. Too bad, we miss the calamari at Franco Gianni's.

          I wish there were more places in Trumbull to eat.

          Is there something going in across from Home Depot?

          1. re: barbaract

            Barb....
            'we stopped going there..." WHERE???? I posted about two restaurants.
            The owners of Jennie's are friends of ours, but we don't care for their basic red sauce or pizza. It doesn't compare to years ago when they were on Main St in northern Bridgeport.

            Across from Home Depot next to Edge fitness will be another Chips pancake house...Yechhh.

            1. re: bagelman01

              Franco Gianni's has the air conditioning that doesn't quite make it. They know it, but don't own the building.

              We used to go to the old Jennie's, too. We still like the pizza. Have you tried the Italian place across the street? McGowans? We like to go there for a change of pace.

              Chips? I wish there were a Shop Rite going in there. We used to love Stop and Shop, but not so much, now. But that is off topic. :).

              1. re: barbaract

                actually, they do own the building and are getting ready to tear it down and build a new bigger building with apartments upstairs. Franci Gianni's and Luigi's bakry are owned by the same family and share the building.

                McGowan's in Monroe has been both terrible and filthy for many years

            2. re: barbaract

              I know I replied to this post months ago, but 2 vastly different experiences at Jennies in the past two week prompt this post.

              Two weeks ago, I took my 24 year old for dinner to Jennies on a Thursday night. There were 4 tables out of 48 seats occupied at 7:30PM. Daughter had Tortellini in Brodo and I had Pasta Faggiolo (Red) to start. Huge servings at only $5, a delicious bargain. Daughter had ziti with meatballs. She loved it. I ordered the special, baked pastas with choice of meatballs or sausage. I received: 2 stuffed shells, 2 manicotti, 2 cheese ravioli and 2 huge sausages (5 inches long x 2 inches thick. I had one piece each of the pastas and took the rest home for my youngest, A great meal with great service at reasonable prices.

              So, last night, my 15 year old and her boyfriend were going out to dinner to celebrate bf getting driver's license and because it was raining, wife and I said we'd drive them and we'd also have dinner, but a a separate table. I dropped them off and parked the car. A miserable hostess (Lynn?) gave the teens a hard time and told them they couldn't have thier own table. This was at 6pm and a half empty restaurant. My wife explained that the teens were on a date and paying their own check. After much discussion and complaining about it, the b*tch allowed that the teens could have a table, but we would have to sit at the adjoining table. The entire evening,m the staff was staring at the teens (daughter took pictures of this) and making nasty comments about them in Italian. One problem, bf was born in Italy, and his family only speaks Italian at home. Wife and I lost our appetite and were disgusted. Instead of ordering, soup, apps, main and wine, we split a pizza, taking most of it home. bf loved his salad and lasagne, daughterloved her liguini and red clam sauce, but swore she'd never return due to attitude of hostess and waitresses.
              Wife wouldn't let me open my mouth, says she'll call and handle this, BUT, this forum and yelp will allow me to get the word out about the lousy treatment and service at Jennie's.

            3. re: bagelman01

              How's the pizza at Stella's? Going there tonight for an end of season football party. Doesn't sound too promising from what I've read elsewhere.

              1. re: LorenV

                Don't know, I haven't had it in 5 years. When we were there Saturday night for their vile food, we were seated in the garden room. We walked through the main/bar room on the way in and out and every table was eating pizza, not dinners. Maybe we should have taken the hint...
                The pizza looked like respectable NY style Neopolitan pies.

                As far as the food and decor goes, Robert Irvine really blew it. Booths and tables in the booths are too small to hold the place settings and food. The wall of lemons looks stupid. The servers and bus people are poorly trained, and owner's mama doesn't know how to shut up.
                We saw many staff members sit down at patrons' tables and hug and kiss them, probably tasted better than the food.

                1. re: bagelman01

                  Pizza was EH. Not bad but nothing to write home about either. The sauce was pretty flavorless too.

                  BTW, I know it was a Monday and all but there was NO ONE in the restaurant side (we were in the banquet room) the entire time our party was there (6-8PM). Pretty odd. There wasn't even a sole person at the bar either. And by comparison Parker in the same plaza had quite a good crowd inside. Even before Monday Night Football was set to begin.

                  1. re: bagelman01

                    UPDATE>>>>>>
                    it's 13 months since I posted this. I haven't been back and don't intend to do so, BUT today I received an email from the owner in response to an on-line review I made 13 months ago.

                    To the owner: TOO LITTLE, WAY TOO LATE!!!! Why would I be interested to your reply top my bad review of dinner at your place 13 months ago. It's obvious you don't care and/or dopn't know how to run your business. If you wanted a chance to regain my business, you wouldn't wait 13 months, 13 days would be stretching it.

              2. Tonelli's in Bethel. The food is consistently good, and huge portions. Their eggplant parm is excellent, as is their spaghetti in red clam sauce. Their lasagna's pretty good too.

                Prices are reasonable, but did go up after they renovated. Still a very good value, especially when you consider that you take home more than you can eat.

                1. My go-to places are Vincent's in Huntington center and Jennie's. Nothing earth-shattering but both are decent. At Vincent's, the ravioli and chicken piccata are pretty good. The pizza is OK. I do like Julian's as well but it is too far to get it home while it is still hot. Jennie's is a good fall back as well. Chicken piccata, portobella, and marsala are good there. Pizza is decent, but I will go all the way back to when they were on Grand St. in Bridgeport when it was great.
                  I have not been there in a while, but the grinders at Franco Gianni's were pretty good.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: JTilCT

                    Julian's is our Fairfield County apizza restgaurant of choice, but we eat there, Apizza doesn't travel well. I am a New Haven native and when I don't want to drive to Sally's on Wooster Street I go to Julian's.
                    And to others, please don't suggest Pepe's branches in Danbury or Fairfield. After almost 60 years of eating Sally's, I don't eat Pepe's. It's a New Haven thing..............

                    1. re: bagelman01

                      UPDATE TIME>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
                      Julian's is now our Fairfield County apizza place to avoid.
                      Wife and I went in yesterday at 6PM for a quick bite. She wanted to eat early (I later found out she needed me out of the house so that the guests for my surprise birthday party could arrive and my daughter could set up).

                      We were one of two tables occupied and the place was busy with takeout orders. A local high school waitress took out order, a calzone for myself and an eggplant grinder for my wife. 15 minutes later she set down my calzone and walked away. I thought she was going into the back kitchen to get my wife's grinder, but no, she stood behind the counter taking telephone orders. Meanwhile my calzone was growing cold (I would not start eating before my wife received her food). It took 10 minutes to get the girl's (Yes it is policically correct if I'm 60 and she's under 18) attention and I asked where my wife's food was. We were told, he's making it now and she walked away. 5 minutes later, she came to the table slammed the plate down and tried to walk away. I stopped her dead in her tracks and asked where the napkins and fork were. Annoyed as hell she went and got the napkins and fork and by that time I cut my calzone and found it missing the onions and peppers it was supposed to contain. I said to her the onions and peppers are missing and was told she'd let him (who 'him' is I don't know) know about it. By 6:55 we were finished with the oart of the food we chose to eat, but never saw this twit leave the counter to check on tables. I had 1/2 a calzone left that I would have taken for the dogs If given a chance. BUT we got up, I went to the car to avoid making a scene at the counter and my wife went to ask for a check and pay. No mention or apology was made for the lousy service or the missing ingredients in my calzone. For the first time in her life, my wife stiffed a server.

                      We won't be returning. There are 8 pizza places between my home and Julian's (a less than 10 minute drive) and we don't have to put up with this bad service and food made wrong. So after almoist 10 years of recommending them, now I say stay away. Julian's closed their Bridgeport location in the past 2 years, if they continue to run Monroe this poorly, it won't be far behind.

                      Julian's from a go to to a stay away!
                      BTW>>>>I called this noon to speak to the manager and complain (no manager was on duty last night),and was told no manager on duty today, either.

                      1. re: bagelman01

                        That's too bad- we love Julian's. Which location did you go to?

                        1. re: Ima Foodie

                          "if they continue to run Monroe this poorly,"

                          guess you missed it in the post.

                          At last count, there are now 11 places serving pizza between our house and Julian's in Monroe (less than 5 miles)