Chef Sergio Reyes Makes Bar Rosso in Stamford Shine

18 Mar

*Click a picture to enlarge and bring up the gallery*

Way back in May 2011, we told Omnomivores about Bar Rosso and were dying to try what we hoped were great Italian tapas. We thought it would end up being one of our favorites, especially because Mary Schaffer from Napa & co was involved with the initial launch. But, much to our dismay, when we finally tried things out, we were a bit disappointed to find the food didn’t live up to the hype with way too much salt, seasoning and oil.  We left knowing Bar Rosso had potential, if they could just get the food right.

At a press dinner at Cactus Rose Cantina, Linda Kavanagh told us that Bar Rosso had a new chef and new management. So with that in mind, and the fact that we were dying for some great Italian tapas, we decided to give Bar Rosso another try. What went down next definitely changed our minds…

When we arrived we met Stacy, the general manager, and she seated us in a comfy booth by the brick oven and the kitchen door. To our delight, Chef Sergio Reyes came out and told us he wanted to share some dishes with us to show what Bar Rosso is now all about.  If a chef presents you with an offer like this, you take it.  Like if the Godfather comes up to you, telling you to do something, you do it.  Capiche?

So we were dying to find out what he would bring, but in the meantime we enjoyed a nice wine flight of a Primitivo, a Nero d’Avola, and a Sicilian Syrah selected by Eileen, head of the wine program. The picks were perfect and matched our taste so well:  big, bold reds that have body.

Wine Flight and Smoked Mozzarella, Spicy Sausage, and Broccoli Rabe Pizza

Chef Sergio came out with our dream pie: smoked mozzarella, spicy sausage, and broccoli rabe. The crust was beautifully cooked and golden, was crispy, yet still a bit doughy inside. The smoked mozzarella was a wonderful touch and added a great smokiness to the dish. We would order again, and–yes–it did stand up to the next morning reheat test.

Veal Ricotta Meatballs

Find these bad boys on the Bar Snacks section of the menu at 1 for $7 or 3 for $18.  Starting off, the meatballs were served in a cute jar.  They were meatier than we like, but not super meaty to the point that was all you could taste.  The ricotta was great because it added a juiciness to them that kept them moist.  Also, Chef Sergio did a great job of crustifying (is that a word?) the outside.  Any good meatball has been pan fried nicely…just ask any Italian.

Crispy Honey Calamari 

We also really loved the calamari.  There was a nice pile of them, generously drizzled with a jalapeño and honey sauce.  Although there was only a slight kick from the peppers, the flavor was intense, especially with little bits of olives mixed in.  The breading on the calamari was thick, but if it was any thinner it would probably become soggy because of the drizzle.

Short Rib Raviolis

A pretty complex dish.  Delicate and earthy short ribs with burrata, tomato jam, and hazelnuts.  These handmade bad boys had great contrasting flavors with the earthiness of the short rib, the acid of red pepper pesto on top, and the bite of the shredded parmesan.  Delicious and very filling, which leads us to the next course.  Lucky for us these dishes were small plates style, otherwise we never would have made it to dessert.  Yes, we’ll get there.

Lemon Ricotta Gnocchi

The gnocchi was served with capers and golden raisins in a creamy and light lemony sauce.  The capers added a nice saltiness to contrast the bright flavors going on.  The gnocchi itself was more on the heavier side that a typical ricotta gnocchi, rather than being like the light and fluffy pillows you’d expect. Chef Sergio said it was because they were made with a pastry bag which makes them heavier. The gnocchi definitely left us at the brink of exploding, but we couldn’t resist the chance to pick a dish of our choosing from the menu.

Pan Seared Pork Chop

This was the dish we had eyed on the menu and was actually recommended by Chef Reyes as one of his favorites.  The pork chop was paired with beautifully seared and buttery Brussel sprouts.  Oh man, how we love Brussel sprouts! On top of the chop were caramelized apples and under the chop was a bed of lentils.  Although it might seem scary, you should go with a medium on pork chops to get the full flavor and juiciness of this cut of meat.  But, make sure you’re at a good restaurant where the chef can handle this by cooking it to the right temperature.  :)  The chop was a bit over medium, but was still full of flavor and juicy.   The apples were a nice play on the classic pairing of pork chops with apple sauce.  We would order this dish again, no doubt.

Gelato, Sorbet and Pot de Crème

Chef Sergio came out and told us that he was sending out two desserts for us to try.  Again, we were left waiting in anticipation to see what we would receive.  The first dessert was an amazing trio of gelato and sorbet made one door over at Volta Gelateria Creperia.  The blood orange sorbet was bright, tart, citrusy, and refreshing.  Also there was the caramel sea salt gelato.  It was creamy, caramely and had an undertone of saltiness that provided a nice contrast in flavors.   Now, then there’s the chocolate strawberry gelato.  Kristien melted into a puddle and proclaimed that she would eat this by the gallon.  It was everything she loves in a gelato – a super fruity, refreshing gelato with chunks of contrasting chocolate. I think she even liked this better than her favorite ice cream ever – Friendly’s Watermelon Roll. Don’t tell her I told you all that!

We also had the Nutella pot de crème with homemade whipped cream and crushed amaretto cookies on top.  The pot de crème was light and airy and hid light hints of cinnamon.  Seriously delicious.

So…Same, Better, Worse? What’s OmNomCT’s Verdict?

Our major problem with Bar Rosso when we first went was how everything was just a bit off. A bit too much!  But, after this meal, we can say that Bar Rosso is a wonderful place to hit up if you’re looking for some awesome Italian tapas.  You’ll get to try lots of small plates that pack in a lot of flavor.  The service is excellent and the wine selection is a blend of phenomenal wines from all over Italy.  Chef Sergio will also be changing the menu up, depending on the season, and filling it up with food from local farms.  We’d definitely recommend checking out Bar Rosso for some bar snacks, small plates, sharing a bottle of wine, or even just an all out dining experience.  So, let it be known that Bar Rosso has jumped from 3.25 Noms to 4 Noms.

Bar Rosso
Noms: 4
Cost:  $$$
Address: 24 Spring Street
Stamford, CT 06901
Phone: (203) 388-9640
Reservations recommended (also on Opentable.com)
Site: http://www.barrossoct.com/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001687354172
Twitter:  http://twitter.com/barrossoct

Bar Rosso on Urbanspoon

6 Responses to “Chef Sergio Reyes Makes Bar Rosso in Stamford Shine”

  1. patty April 1, 2012 at 9:36 pm #

    We were there the other night and thought it was good. Not as salty as early on. What was the change in management?

    Like

    • Dan Del Ferraro April 1, 2012 at 10:10 pm #

      Yeah, right? Much easier on the salt. New chef, new wine director, new head manager. Almost all new. :) They are starting to really get things together and are improving! :)

      Like

  2. jeff schlesinger March 19, 2012 at 4:49 pm #

    Hey Guys. Just a point of clarification. It is important that people understand that while Mary Schaffer was originally involved with the vision of Bar Rosso she has no association with Bar Rosso or the current management and has not for many months. We all know the original chef, Dan Kardos, is now cranking out killer food at the Whelk in Westport and his sister, who oversaw the wine program at Bar Rosso, is now at elm in New Canaan. To assist, Bar Rosso recently agreed to work with Capriccio down the street. Thanks

    Like

    • Dan Del Ferraro March 20, 2012 at 7:49 am #

      Hey Jfood, thanks for reading, that means a lot to us. We did read Mary’s FB post and saw her email about parting ways, that’s why we wrote she initially worked with Bar Rosso. It’s got to be frustrating for Mary with people publishing the wrong info, ya know?

      As for Dan and his sister, thanks for sharing. The Whelk is an awesome spot and we are really excited to try The Elm!

      We are just happy that Bar Rosso, as a restaurant, has seemed to hit its groove. They have lots of work ahead to counteract the bad reviews from their past, but we think they are off to a good start.

      Like

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