Tag Archives: Nick Racanelli

The Barren Before and Epic After of Dolce Cubano in Stamford, CT

7 Nov

Dolce Cubano is now open!  Check out our review of Dolce Cubano.

Back in April we broke the news about the opening of Dolce Cubano Rum Bar & Restaurant (thanks Nick), an Italian/Cuban fusion restaurant and bar that would soon grace the waterfront of Stamford.  People freaked out in excitement:  killer drinks and dishes, views of the Sound and Long Island, and a wicked hot spot…yeah, doesn’t get better than that!

Well, when we first had the chance to visit with Nick Racanelli in April, the restaurant was stripped to the bone.  It’s hard to imagine what a place will look like with everything ripped apart, but for Nick and co. it wasn’t that tough.  He had the vision, he knew.

Lucky for us, Nick invited us back in to see Dolce Cubano and see the massive changes made.  Starting off, the restaurant was pretty lucky during Sandy.  The water came just six inches away from getting into the restaurant and a boat nearly dislodged and crashed through the windows.  Nick weathered the storm (literally), watching the docks sink under two feet of water and move like waves.  The only casualty, luckily, was the awning for the outside bar, now torn in two.

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Dolce Cubano Rum Bar & Restaurant to Spice up Stamford Waterfront

12 Apr

Instagramriffic! Snuggle up to this view every time you visit Dolce Cubano…

Dolce Cubano is now open!  Check out our review of Dolce Cubano.

If you’re familiar with Stamford restaurants by the water, you’ve probably had some food and drink down at Paradise Grill (next to The Crab Shell).  And if you’re familiar with what really great food is, then you were probably disappointed. With such a great spot, it could’ve been so much more! Well OmNom’ers, it will be because Paradise Grill is gone and a new kind of paradise is taking over from Nick Racanelli Sr. & Jr., owners of the beloved Pizzeria Molto Wine Bar in Fairfield and Zaza Italian Gastrobar in Stamford.

Danny checks out the bar, soon to be fitted with carrera marble

Yup, the new restaurant is called Dolce Cubano Restaurant and Rum Bar.  Rum bar?  Oh heck yeah.  When’s the last time (if ever) you hit up a rum bar and you weren’t at some sort of tropical destination? And, in addition to a ton of rum drinks, there will be wine, beer, mixed drinks and dishes of Cuban meets Italian cuisine. Say what? Yeah, a totally unique and totally awesome concept.

At the end will be a swanky lounge area with couches and chairs

Just imagine the delicious classic Italian dishes the Racanelli boys are known for and mix them up with a little sexy, spicy Cuban flare. The menu hasn’t been completely worked out yet, but we can imagine perhaps ingredients like sofrito, lime, corn, and cilantro will be mixed in with pasta, or  spicy pork meatballs even. The possibilities are endless. They also plan to have classic Cuban dishes to spice things up such as various pork dishes, seafood dishes, yucca, plantains and maybe even paella. Oh, and we heard the word tacos mentioned, though it might be off the record! We’re salivating thinking about it! And, just like Zaza and Molto, you’ll be able to order from a large menu of small plates and select entrees.

Lots of room here at Dolce Cubano!

As if the food wasn’t enticing enough, let us tell you about the space and decor! Wow! First, every seat will have a view of the beautiful water with a huge wall of giant floating glass doors (just like at Zaza) that will surely be wide open all summer long for a nice breeze! The decor will be rich, swanky and sexy, just like Zaza and Molto, but with a few Cuban twists to give you that tropical feel. Best of all, there will be plenty of room for you to bring your entire crew. You can start off with some cocktails at the ginormous (I mean it’s ridonkulously huge) oval-shaped, 360° bar to the left when you walk in. Then when my fellow ladies have had enough of standing in your 6″ heels (I know how you roll), you can have a seat near the bar at one of their high-top tables or on a sofa or lounge chair in the swanky lounge area off to the side near the glass doors.  If it’s a beautiful night, you could even just start out at the outdoor bar and patio and enjoy the stars! When you’re ready to sit down and enjoy some tasty dishes, you can grab one of the many sexy red booths along the glass doors, or if you have a larger group, one of the two large u-shaped tables facing outside or the large community table near the cozy fireplace. And if it’s date night, you can snuggle up at one of the more quaint, smaller tables.  No matter what you choose, you can’t lose!

Of course nights will be hot at Dolce Cubano, but they also plan to have lunch and brunch to bring some excitement to your day! All of which will be livened up with upbeat, electronic music and even live bands and DJs on busier evenings and nights.

A view from the outside bar. How do you like your rum?

We are very excited for Nick Racanelli Jr. and Sr. for the summer launch of their new hot spot and we’re excited for ourselves and Stamfordites because it’s going to be awesome!  The location is perfect, there is an endless amount of parking, and the food and drink promises to spice up Stamford quite a bit and the decor will be fabulous! When we find out more info (like when they will open), we’ll let you know.

A special thank you to Nick (Jr.) for meeting up with us and showing us around.

Dolce Cubano Restaurant and Rum Bar

Address: 78 Southfield Ave.

Stamford, CT

Phone:  203-871-0700

Opening:  Summer

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/dolcecubano

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/DolceCubano

Dolce Cubano on Urbanspoon

For Italian tapas in Stamford, Zaza takes the canoli! Zaza Italian Gastrobar- Downtown Stamford, CT

6 Jun

The Bar (and the vino of course)

• The place was hopping, so we had to saddle up to the bar for some wine while we waited. Chris, the bartender, was excellent. We were able to order a bottle at the bar to take to our table and luckily Chris had a good knowledge of wine to help us choose. He suggested the Apothic Red, a complex and lovely Zin, Syrah, Merlot blend off their “Interesting Reds” list.  Wow, this wine rocked with dark red fruit flavors and a hint of dark chocolate. YUM!

The Mozz

• They have a nice selection of fresh mozzerela here:  bufala, Wisconsin, burrata,  affumicata, and stracciatella. We went with the burrata and we were damn happy about that.  The inside was creamy and melted away the second it touched your tounge, while the outside of the burrata was softer and denser–but not too dense.  All mozza is served with fresh and delicate prosciuto, eggplant, roasted peppers, and olives (and of course the bread you get before the meal).

The Small Plates

• We started with the fried ricotta cakes.  The breading was crispy, seasoned well, and coated the filling well.  Oh, and the filling.  Ricotta was mixed in with some sauce, giving it a pink color.  It had a similar taste to ala vodka sauce, but the ricotta kicked it up and brought a much creamier taste.  It did come out kinda luke warm, not hot, but this was still only their third night of service.  The greens that came with it were starting to brown over so they weren’t the freshest, but the tomato sauce for dipping was good and added another great contrast.

• Creamy lobster polenta!  Seriously, folks…this is a must try if you love seafood and polenta.  The lobster was in nice, big tender chunks cooked perfectly. The polenta was creamy and so flavorful.  Even better?  Nice, creamy, melty mozzarela pooled in the middle!  Dip the polenta into the mozz here and there for the win.

Osso bucco with a vegetable ragu sauce.  The osso bucco here falls off the bone, so no knife is needed.  The sauce is earthy, but also tangy from the tomatoes in the sauce.  A nice balance to the lobster polenta. 

Spicy calamari with white beans and roasted tomatoes.  The flavors in here were a nice mix, the calamari was cooked perfectly, and the white beans added some texture contrast to the calamari.  We spoke to Nick Jr. about this after our meal and we said we really liked this dish, but wished it was spicier.  He said that next time we should ask for it cooked in the hot oil.  Tip for Omnomavores: hot oil.

Potato gnocchi in a butternut squash cream sauce.  Our absolute favorite here. And while the gnocchi wasn’t handmade fresh like we prefer it, it was still one of the best gnocchi dishes ever tasted by OmNomCT in the states.  The dish, at first, looks like mac & cheese, but as you dig in you get butternutafied.  The sauce is buttery, sweet and creamy coating the hearty gnocchi.  Think of how comforting and tasty Thanksgiving is and you understand 10% of the gnocchi’s awesomeness.  Kristien swears she could eat a vat of this dish if Zaza could provide it.  I’d have to help her with that, if she doesn’t bite my fingers off.

The Dessert

• Canoli dip.  We saw a person eating a canoli and we knew what we had to do.  The plan changed, though, when we saw canoli dip on the menu.  Our waitress brought a bowl of smooth and creamy canoli filling with bits of canoli crust to dip into.  This was a fun dessert to end with and wasn’t too heavy at all. 

The Final Verdict on Zaza Italian Gastrobar

As we waited for Bar Rosso and Zaza to open up in Stamford, we honestly thought that Bar Rosso would have an advantage over Zaza.  Well, we were wrong when we tried Bar Rosso and had the Racanelli’s new restaurant to compare it to.  Zaza is clearly beating Bar Rosso so far with the flavors, seasonings, and service.  We realize that Zaza is another iteration of Molto in Fairfield, but that has only seemed to make Zaza stronger.  Italian spots in Stamford, take notice:  Zaza‘s in town. ;)

Also, check out our post on brick oven pizza in Stamford, featuring Zaza.

Noms: 4

Cost: $$$

Zaza Italian Gastrobar

Address:  122 Broad Street
Stamford, CT
Phone:  (203) 348-2300
Site:  www.zazagastrobar.com 
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001854911680 
Twitter: http://twitter.com/zazagastrobar 

ZAZA Italian Gastrobar on Urbanspoon

Going gaga over Zaza: A sneak peek! Zaza Italian Gastrobar-Stamford, CT

26 May

Update:  Zaza is now open and here’s our review!

A few months ago, we had a chance to talk with Nick Racanelli Jr., co-owner of the soon to be opening Zaza Italian Gastrobar on 122 Broad Street in Downtown Stamford.  We’ve been watching the progress of this new spot on Facebook and by doing some drive bys–no, not the violent kind.  Apparently sensing our anticipation, Nick so kindly invited us to get a sneak peak before they open! YAY!

So, if you were at the old place in this spot, 122 Pizza Bistro, then your impression is probably that this spot is dark and dreary. But thankfully this is sooooo not the case anymore! What a refreshing change Nick (and Nick) have made to this place!

First, before you even walk in, you’re attracted to the sleek, clean look of the exterior.  A custom white marble tile mosaic runs up and down the building, with black tiles spelling out the restaurant’s name near the door.  An industrial steel riveted sign that lights up from behind, reminiscent of signs in NYC’s meat-packing district. Custom white planter boxes to break up the space between the restaurant’s outdoor seating on the sidewalk and the road. Specially designed glass “doors” which are supposedly not even available in the U.S., seamlessly open up and tuck away in this cool little contraption to the right to invite people to come on in for some drinks and small plates of yumminess.

The sleek and clean look doesn’t end at the front door either. On the inside you’ll see handmade and one-of-a-kind red leather benches and chairs of all shapes and sizes with steel rivets to reinforce that modern industrial look, mixed with romantic crystal chandeliers and sconces with hints of red and black jewels. The contrasting, yet complimenting colors really make the place pop.  Dark mahogany tables add a nice contrast, too. A projection of old black and white Italian films will play on the wall above the entry to the kitchen, and mirrors across the left hand side, above the booths are at an angle so everyone can feel like they’re part of the social activity of the bar.

And speaking of the bar, it’s pretty sweet.  A sexy white carrera marble top sprawls across the entire right hand wall, with interesting details such as the metal flashing underneath the bar and mahogany shelving holding a plethora of wine bottles and various qualities of liquor.  Nick says they’re going to start with about 50 bottles of wine then go from there based on what sells and what doesn’t. A good strategy if you ask me. Oh, and  the coolest thing about the bar?  The tap!  In the pic you can see that it’s kept cool, but it’ll be even cooler during service.  After two days of chilling, that tap will create a 2″ thick coating of ice around it.  Damn right…ice cold PBR, Rouge Dead Guy’s Ale, and Delerium Tremens!  Ahhh yes, craft beers, because the world is now full of hipsters!

Then to end on the decor front, a brief tour of the equally classy-looking bathrooms (hey, we leave no stone unturned) and a trip out to the nice brick back patio that won’t be ready for opening just yet, but someday in the future will be an ideal place for a romantic dinner.

Ok, so all of this info about the decor is well and good, but what about the food?! Yeah, we want to know that too, but it will have to wait for their opening sometime in the next few weeks. Here’s what we do know to whet your appetite… They will specialize in wood fired pizza and small plates of traditional Italian fare like chicken parm and hearty pastas at reasonable prices. In the words of Nick, they’re not trying to be some fancy, high-end restaurant, but rather a nice, reliable place you know you can come to any day for a really good meal and a good time without going broke in the process. Who can’t get behind a promise like that?

In the meantime, we promise to update you as soon as we know more! Stay tuned.

Zaza Italian Gastrobar
Address:  122 Broad Street
Stamford, CT
Phone:  (203) 348-2300
Site:  www.zazagastrobar.com 
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001854911680 
Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/search/zazagastrobar 

ZAZA Italian Gastrobar on Urbanspoon

An Italian Gastronomic and Wine Lovers Wonderland. ZAZA, Stamford

27 Dec

Photo by Alex Racanelli

Update, 6/2/11:  ZAZA is now open and here’s our review.  Also, Nick Jr. took us for a private tour and here’s the goods.

We all know that Stamford has a ton of Italian restaurants, so the choices can be quite overwhelming. As you listen to people’s recommendations and try each of them out, you notice that many of them are just the same old boring formula:  drab pizza, expected salads, bland pasta, and some rubbery chicken parm.  Who is brave enough to break this boring monotony in Stamford?  Well, there are two newcomers to the scene that will prove to add some gusto to Downtown Stamford.  First, we’ve got Bar Rosso that’s opening up in 2 weeks and we’ve got ZAZA, who we’re also so damn excited about!

What’s the big deal?  Let me break it down for ya, paesan.  The owners (Nick  Racanelli Jr. and Sr.) are the creators and operators of MOLTO in Fairfield, CT.  Nick Sr. is the same person who created and built Remo’s Brick Oven Pizza and Lucky’s on the restaurantly-rich Bedford Street.  So, there is clearly amazing culinary experience  and passion going into ZAZA.

Photo by Alex Racanelli

Let’s get onto the kind of food that ZAZA will have to offer.  To begin, ZAZA is going to be an Italian gastrobar.  You can think of a gastrobar as a restaurant that serves gourmet bar food, unlike most bar food that goes for hot oil baths and takes you down for the count.  The menu will be quite similar to the one at MOLTO, with a focus on small plates, table sharing, and their famous thin-crust, brick-oven pizza.  I’m excited about the white clam pie and also the hot oil pizza, which is always killer.  Something else that I’m hoping for is that they’ll carry over their plates of mozzarella (5 different kinds) that come with olives, roasted peppers, and eggplant.

Now, you also need something to wash all that Italian yumminess down with, right?  Why not try one of their over 100 different bottles of wine?  As of right now, Nick Jr. is telling us that there will most likely be over 40 of those bottles available to buy by the glass.  That’s a really great variety, and with the glasses going from $5-$15, you can get your drink on without going broke.  The bottles will also prove to be quite affordable, starting at $20.

The meals will also  be quite inexpensive with $10 pizzas and a ton of entrees under $20.  I have a feeling that this will quickly become a Stamford favorite, especially for the 30+ crowd.  You’ll have great quality food, an excellent dining experience, a plethora of wine choices, and all for not too much money.  This is the perfect formula for a restaurant to thrive upon so I definitely think that Nick Jr. and Sr. know what they’re doing!

Expect to indulge in rich mahogany, a stunning white carrera marble bar, and plush red leather booths.  So, let’s all welcome ZAZA to Stamford.  I’m starting to have dreams about this place already…opening Spring, 2011.

ZAZA
Address:  122 Broad Street
Stamford, CT
Phone:  203-348-2300
Site: http://zazagastrobar.com/
Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/zazagastrobar
Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001854911680&ref=ts
 
 

ZAZA Italian Gastrobar on Urbanspoon

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