Many people count down the days to, say, a vacation, or the holidays, or a wedding, a due date, whatever. We… we countdown to restaurant openings. Yeah. So it’s no surprise that every time Bar Rosso in Stamford announced a new opening date, we were on the phone desperately trying to make reservations, only to be bummed out by another false alarm. But, hey, we know how it goes with renovations, contractors, licenses, training, and all that other craziness required to open a new place so no hard feelings. Especially no hard feelings after finally experiencing the divinity last night.
Now we only went to Bennett’s once (the restaurant that use to be in this spot), so we don’t remember exactly what it looked like, but when we walked in we were amazed at how incredibly different it looked. It is so much more open and contemporary. A much younger, hipper vibe with with a nice large bar, funky modern glass light fixtures, a beautiful stone wall, an impressive stainless steel and brick pizza oven, and subtle, clean colors.
We were 15 mins early for our reservation but the host was able to take us right to our table – a nice little two person booth and table set up. Score! Not even a minute into being seated a waiter asked us our preference on water, then no more than three minutes after that another waiter, Fedrico, was at our table asking us if we had any questions on the drink menu. The waiter seemed knowledgeable about the wine menu… impressive. After ordering the Castello Monaci Piluna 2007 Primitivo, Federico showed up with our bottle in just another two minutes along with some fresh bread and olive oil. Yay! There’s nothing I hate more than having to wait for wine, and then having nothing to gnaw on to go with it. The wine was a nice, full bodied red, similar to a Zinfandel with the taste of dark red fruit. A solid choice to go with a variety of dishes, because after looking at the menu we knew we were going to be trying a whole lotta dishes!
So what about the menu you ask? Wait for it. Waaaaait for it. Overall, the menu was really nice! A large variety of traditional and unique Italian fare including pizzas, pasta that could be ordered in half or full portions (love that), salads, larger entrees, meat and cheese platters, and a ton of small dishes that could be mixed and matched. Oh wow, where to begin?! After much deliberation (as alwaaaays), we went wild. First, a meat and cheese platter of some of our go-to faves: prosciutto, sopressata, coppa, peccorino (organic) and homemade mozzarella. Then onto small plates: polenta fries (based on the Foursquare recommendation), greens and cherries, and beets agrodolce (because we never say no to beets). Next up, clams and pancetta from the apps menu, cooked in a saffron and white wine, and herb broth. Aaaand last but not least (because there was also dessert) a half portion of the Bucatini pasta with braised pork, tomatoes, olives, and fava beans. Phew, ok, breath.
So remember how I was raving about how fast the service was. Um yeah, that ended after we got our wine… which is an indication that the waiter was probably good, but the kitchen was backed up. Yeah, all in, were we there for three hours. But, we’re not going to judge them on this because it was their first weekend so we have to cut them a break. Ok, back to the food…
The meat and cheese platter came out with a cheat sheet explaining everything we ordered. Cool! They did a great job sourcing the meats and cheeses because everything was fresh, tasty and flavorful. Their homemade mozzarella was semi-soft and quite tasty, though I prefer soft, juicy mozzarella. Everything also came with a delicious strawberry jam. Mmmm.
Next up, the small dishes. The beets agrodolce (meaning sour and sweet) came in a cute little mason jar. And while they were not at all sour OR sweet (weird) they were tasty. A bit too salty (you’ll notice this is a theme) but still quite good. The greens and cherries too had a nice flavor with a pretty hefty helping of garlic (I’m not complaining) and a spicy kick, which we later found out was Calabrian (Calabria represent!) chili oil. While this dish tasted nice, we couldn’t eat too much because they were drenched in too much oil. Now onto the pièce de résistance, the polenta fries. Oooey gooey bricks of buttery, fluffy polenta fried in a nice light batter with salt (again, a bit too much, but it didn’t bother us as much here). OMG, these were frickin’ good. We highly recommend them.
Already a little full, we moved onto the clams and pancetta. Hey, no rest for the wicked! A nice helping of both crispy pancetta and fresh tasting clams in what seemed to be a slightly thickened broth of white wine and a bunch of great flavors really coming through, especially the saffron and garlic. Again a bit on the salty side, but overall a nice dish.
Barely hanging in there, and already a little tipsy, we made it to the last course, the Bucatini pasta. This dish was fantastic with al dente pasta topped with a heavy helping of incredibly tender slow roasted pork that was cooked in coriander for a very unique taste. My only critique here is I would’ve liked more tomatoes, but it was very good regardless.
Ok, I know what you’re thinking. There’s noooo way we had room for dessert, right? Well, you’re right, we had absolutely no room. Buuuuut, we went for it any way. Whatever, go big or go home people! The dessert menu looked too good to resist with hot chocolate cake, honey panna cotta, like ten different gelatos that all looked fantastic, and one of our favorites, pizza frite. Oh fried dough, so simple, yet so very very delicious. This one especially as it came drenched in Nutella and chocolate ganache with a side of caramelized bananas topped with nuts. Um yeeeeah. A perfect dish, with perfectly fried dough that was oh-so ooey gooey (ok, I used that twice in one post – minus 5 points). Washed down with some Illy coffee, it was the perfect ending to our feast.
Yep, a feast that was definitely worth the wait. And once they get all the kinks worked out to speed up the service and if they lay off the salt a bit, they’ll be great! But those two issues aside, the meal was delicious and we think Bar Rosso has a long, successful life ahead!
Address: 24 Spring Street
Stamford, CT 06901
Phone: (203) 388-9640
Reservations recommended (also on Opentable.com)