You know (and maybe even love) Molto, ZAZA, Dolce, and some time in the next two weeks, you’re going to know and get intimate with Lugano Wine Bar + Salumeria of Greenwich. This impressive restaurant portfolio belongs to Nick Racanneli Jr. and Senior (and partners), and they know how to do it right. Go into any of these hotspots at night, and you’ll notice the same thing: they’re packed, probably because of the cozy, yet stylish decor, the good prices, the solid drinks, and the dependable Italian food. So logic will tell us that Lugano, located at 1392 E. Putnam Ave. almost on the Greenwich / Stamford border (where Bistro Latino was), will be a huge success. We were lucky enough to get a sneak peak and are pretty psyched about the things that make Lugano similar to the rest of their restaurants, but also, the things that make it unique. Let us break it down into sections for you.
Like ZaZa, you can expect an excellent variety of Italian tapas, even some of the tried and true items like their Roasted Truffle Sprouts, Creamy Polenta, and their Crostini. Some other tapas that got us all hungry include Italian Cheese Gravy Fries with bolegnese and creamy burrata, Baby Lamb Chops, Spicy Wings, Panzanella, and Smoked Salmon Carpaccio. In addition, you can go balls to the wall with a meatball tasting for $3.50 for a small order or $10 for a large. Order up the Beef (tomato, basil, grated parm), Turkey (sesame soy jus, scallions, spicy aioli), or House Blend (beef, pork, lamb, tomato, basil, ricotta). Or even get a sampler for $10 so you don’t have to decide.
Also on the menu is a nice selection of Insalate if you feel like going lighter. There’s a fresh Arugula Salad made with goat cheese, beets, fennel, candied walnuts, fresh lemon and oil, the Campagna made with apples, walnuts, cranberries, Gorgonzola, and shrimp, and six other options. And, wrapping the menu up, you have Primi filled with classics and soon-to-be-classics like Cavatelli Lugano, Black & White Spaghetti, and Tagliatelle Bolognese.
You can probably guess that the next section of the menu is Secondi, huh? There’s Pork Chop Scarpariello, Braised Boneless Short Rib, Branzino Picatta, Lasagna Melanzana, Bistecca di Manzo, and a fun take on Chicken Parmigiana (Stratiatella) that comes with creamy burrata and penne pasta.
And as we mentioned, it’s all at a great price which we think will go gangbusters in an otherwise pricey town. “Lugano will be one of the best affordable options here in Greenwich,” Nick shared. “You could have dinner and a glass of wine here for 30 bucks all in.”
Ok, so there are other reasons to come by besides the well-priced meals (yeah, we know, hard to believe) . . .
Lugano will feature the finest and freshest slices of meat and cheeses, cut paper thin in the back with their two Bizerba slicers. You can order up a board filled with your favorites such as Proscuito San Daniele, Speck, Salame Calabrese, or Mortadella. On the cheesy side of things, you can order up creamy mozza, Parmigiano Reggiano, Bufala, honey glazed ricotta, and/or provolone. There are also little snacks (Spuntini) that you can add to your order like polenta fritta, marinated olives, and giardiniera. Order as an appetizer or just snack on them in one of the high tops in front of the bar. But, one of the coolest things that got Nick beaming like a little boy in a candy store was the Salumeria counter when you enter. Not only will you see the hostess here, but you’ll also see a chakboard full of options for takeout orders. Yep! You can order 1/4, 1/2 3/4, a pound or any enumeration of the meats and cheeses available to take home, for the office, or that picnic (but watch those damn ants that carry away your food). Plus, they’ll be selling imported Italian pasta along with their own housemade sauces to help you put together a quick and easy meal. If you’re in search of even bigger orders or catering, they can help you too.
The Bar and Drink Program
Like their other spots, you’ll see the rich White Carrara marble stretching down an immense bar big enough for twenty corkscrew stools. Yeah, you’ll probably spend a few minutes every time turning them up or turning down. Turn down for what? Just cuz it’s fun. Anyway, a ton more thought went into the bar like bag hooks and USB charging stations so you can power up to get those selfies and food porn shots. The bar also extends out with custom-built high tops that encourage gathering and chatting.
Now, you’ll want to get some drinking in, right? Well, they’ve got you covered with three beers on tap (they are staring with Half Full, Cisco, and Palm) and also have eight others in bottles and cans. If beer’s not your thing, then you’ll want to check out their wine offerings. The menu boasts more than 30 wines by the glass, and a nice selection of bottles with many that are listed $30 or under. If you’d like an even better deal, stop by Monday for 1/2 priced bottles or get a house carafe for just $13.
And, it wouldn’t be a Racanelli production without some killer cocktails! Order them by the glass or by the pitcher (yes, pitcher). There’s Fig & Rosemary (Ketel One, fig, fresh rosemary, bitters and lemon), Cucumber Moscow Mule, Sicilian Oranje (Ketel One Orange, sweet vermouth, bitters, and blood orange), Sound Beach (captain coconut, coconut water, lemon and banana), their housemade sangria, and five others that you’ll definitely want to order.
Where You’ll Eat
If you’re not stopping by Lugano for just drinks and a few snacks, you probably want to get all nice and comfy, right? Well, it’ll be very easy with a few extendable tables, a few more high tops, three large sets of rustic and beautiful custom-made red leather benches, six large C-shaped benches, and two long benches in the back that are by the terrace. Speaking of the terrace, it’ll be a great place to have some cocktails or wait for a table to open up. There will be a rock garden and even some water features to help you chill out a bit.
Off to the left of the bar is another dining room, but this one is private and a bit more formal. There’s a fireplace and even a TV which can be hooked up to any device, making it perfect for meetings or parties. And, finally, there’s also the waiting area by the main entrance that’s fitted with some sleek and comfy couches and chairs. Again, you don’t have to feel like a dope standing around the restaurant, waiting for a table. Get a cocktail, take a seat, and just relax until your table is ready. As of now, you won’t be able to order and dine outside, but this is definitely a possibility as Nick plans to eventually try to open it as a patio. This, though, does require some new permits, so it will take a while.
So, all in, we’re excited about Lugano’s opening in Greenwich. We live pretty close by, so that’s exciting enough, but we see Lugano offering up a great experience for diners. Ordering will be easy and consistent with their Lava System iPad ordering system. Basically, by the time your server places your order for a Che Palle! cocktail, the bartender will already have the order and start working on it. Lunch will also be another great time at Lugano, with the addition of sandwiches and other choices at cheaper prices.
Look for them to open in the next two weeks. When they do, expect to see new menus printed out on a daily basis so that they can highlight what’s fresh and what they were able to find at the market.
Congratulations, again, to Nick Jr. and Sr. and all the partners at Lugano: your new restaurant is sure to be a cut and slice above the rest.
Lugano Wine Bar & Salumeria
1392 E Putnam Ave
Old Greenwich, CT 06870