While we trusted, based on their impressive restaurant portfolio, the Racanelli’s wouldn’t let us down on fabulous ambiance, food, and drink, we were eager to check out all that Lugano Wine Bar & Salumeria has to offer after watching it being built up over the past few months. We were probably most excited by their amazing selection of artisan meats and cheeses from their Salumeria, their wine and cocktail list, and their variety of Italian tapas . . . you know, pretty much everything.
When we arrived, we were valet-parked and got our seats right away. Conicidentally, we sat in the same exact spot where we sat during the past two iterations of the space (Palomino & Bistro Latino). As we shared during our preview post, the bar is a stunning and lavish White Carera Marble and the seats are clad in a rich and exotic red leather that just oozes comfort. It’s very Zaza, Molto, and Dolce, but more “Industrial Chic,” as Nick Jr. told us, putting it in a league of its own.
Well, let’s get down to it and dig into the food (much like we did). First off, we went a bit crazy with the meats and cheeses, but we were hungry and needed something in our bellies STAT. You can order meats and cheeses individually or you can order them up in special platters, too. In addition, there are small bites for you to order alongside the meats and cheeses like Polenta Fritta, Marinated Olives, Garlic Bread, Cauliflower Fritti, and Giardiniera.
While we have had a few of the meats on the menu already, we wanted to try some of the rarer and harder to find kinds that the Lugano staff were so proud of. The first we tried was the Smoked Panchetta which had beautiful marbling and just the right hint of smoke. Second was the Salame Calabrese which Nick Jr. had told us to try a month ago. Unlike so many other meats that claim to be spciy (but are just lame), this one had a nice gentle creeping heat to it. And, arguably our new favorite was the Finocchiona because the fennel came through so nicely but wasn’t overpowering at all. All were sliced paper thin and really just melted away into your mouth.
And, while it was tough to pick the meats, it was even tougher to pick which cheese to order. Considering our outright addiction to burrata, we had to place an order of the Burratina. It comes cut apart, is somewhat creamy on the inside, and is a bit denser on the outside. Overall, it was a decent burrata, but I think we’ve been spoiled by the amazing, freshly made-on-the-spot burrata at Brick + Wood, making all other burrata pale in comparison. We also ordered the honey glazed ricotta which came out in a very large portion. So much so that we got three extra orders of bread just so we could spread a lil’ on each piece. Oh, and it was great: the ricotta was creamy and airy with the honey adding a nice sweetness to all of it.
At this point, we were feeling good and could have ended the meal satisfied, but that would be very un-OmNomCT of us, now wouldn’t it? Damn right, so we ordered the Meatball Tasting which had three balls together for $9.50. Up first was the Classic Beef which was delicate, moist, airy, and light. Next in the tasting was the Turkey ball which had that nice savory taste you expect from good turkey, but was a bit denser than the beef. And, finishing up the plate was Spicy Beef which again was airy but had a spicy kick that again creeped up on us. All the meatballs had a crispy crust along the outside and we dug the nicely balanced sauce which was tangy, chunky, with the right amount of saltiness.
From here, we decided to try out the Spicy Pork Ribs, the Polenta with three meat ragu, and the Spicy Fried Italian Peppers just to get a taste of the apps that they offer. Without a doubt, the Spicy Pork Ribs were a highlight of the night for us. The ribs slid off the bone with a gentle tug, they had a nice heat going on, and had that awesome balance of rich and tangy from the vinegar. We’d order these again and again. Up next was the polenta which was creamy, but could’ve used more salt and flavor. And, while we liked the lamb and beef on top, we felt like the dish overall was bland—there needed to be more sauce, or more of an acidic contrast going on in the ragu.
And, finally, we finished up (so we thought) with the Spicy Fried Italian Peppers. The aroma on those peppers was amazing, so we dug in. And, while there was a nice flavor from the grill, the peppers were also on the bland side with no (or too little to taste) seasoning.
As we got our check to pay, wouldn’t you know it, dessert shows up, courtsey of the house. Oh Lord, have mercy. So, we dug in with what remaining space there was left in our bellies, and got down to business. First we took bites of the Cheesecake which was very creamy and not too sweet at all. In addition to that perfect balance, it was rich, but not dense. And, tying it all together was a bright and vibrant rasberry sauce. A very nice cheesecake indeed! We were also treated to a Molten Lava Cake. Now, we’ve got something to say about Molten Lava Cakes. We’ve stopped ordereing these because they always just end up tasting like a cake with a tiny drop of “lava” inside. But, we’re happy to report that this cake was overflowing with lava inside once we took our forks to it. There was definitely a nice, rich, chocolately taste and it was (also a nice surprise) actually hot!
So, wrapping it all up, we liked a lot about our first time at Lugano. The meat and cheese options are the big highlight, especially if you’ve got a nice glass of wine or cocktail in your hand (which they have a great selection of). We would go back here just for these options, no doubt. Also, we’d definitely get the Meatball Tatsing again becaue it was delcious, but we’re a little cautious about that with the price for just three meatballs. Now, while nothing is priced too expensively, it does add up after a bit if you get a little app happy like us. But, considering the prices of Italian in Greenwich, Lugano remains a moderate option with good quality. And, while we did note that some of the dishes needed a lil’ more sumin sumin, they’ve been open for a very short time and are still finding their way through their new restaurant no doubt. We’ll be back again to be confirm or update our first impressions. Cuz, you know, that’s how we roll!
Address: 1392 East Putnam Avenue
Old Greenwich, CT