Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Showcasing Summer's Best at Bar Sugo in Norwalk, CT

Sometimes I get to try restaurants that I've never been to, and sometimes I get to try new dishes at existing favorites, which was the case recently at Bar Sugo. I cannot say enough good things. It's a favorite of mine in general, whether I'm trying their smaller plates, pizzas, house made pastas, or fabulous brunch dishes. I've never been disappointed. 

Most recently, I experienced some of Chef/Owner Pat Pascarella's summer menu items, and was, once again, impressed. From gnocchi with sage, zucchini blossoms, and brown butter to heirloom polenta topped with wild mushrooms and a 60 minute sous vide egg, each dish was a hit. 

Bar Sugo also serves some of the best pizza I've ever had, and often with unexpected toppings that turn out to be magic. Last summer, my favorite was robiola, corn, almonds, and bacon jam. Sounds weird, right? I'm still craving it. For something more traditional, try the sopressata pie with caramelized onions and balsamic reduction. At this most recent meal, I tried a light, simple combination of mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, and fresh basil (from Chef Pat's garden), crowned with dollops of fresh burrata. Mmm....

You also cannot go wrong with Chef Pat's Cacio e Pepe, a classic rustic pasta dish of cheese and cracked black pepper. Comfort food at its finest. 

What is late summer without tomatoes? Try the panzanella salad, full of juicy heirlooms accented with pesto. I could have eaten a giant bowl of this. Their other, leafy salads are made with hydroponic lettuces from "Green Up," and vegetables (in the salad I tried, radishes) from Sport Hill Farm.

Have I made myself clear? Bar Sugo is a must-try.

Click here for more photos.

Bar Sugo is located at 102 Wall Street, Norwalk, CT 06850. Follow them on facebook for events, news, and more. 

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Table 104: Elevated Italian Cuisine Accompanied by a Welcoming Atmosphere

There has been a well deserved buzz lately about Table 104 in Stamford, CT. One of my friends told me about it, and it was on my list of new places to try, and then I received an invitation to attend a press dinner there. Perfect timing!

An Italian restaurant in Fairfield County has to do something special to set itself apart, and Table 104 rises to the task. Their dishes are fresh and light, with little twists that make them memorable.

Walter Capelli, co-owner of Table 104, is one of the nicest, warmest people I've met. He was so gracious and welcoming. It's clear that he is passionate about what he does, and takes pride in offering a special dining experience.

On to the food....

My favorite appetizer was grilled shrimp with fresh mint and sliced almonds for a zippy crunch. This dish would be the perfect start to a summer meal paired with a crisp rosé wine.

One of my tests of a chef's skill is how well they can cook octopus (or shrimp, if octopus is absent from the menu.) I had already experienced perfectly cooked shrimp in the first appetizer, so I had high hopes for this one. Happily, I was not disappointed. I've had some fabulous octopus, and some absolutely terrible, and this one ranks near the top. The right amount of char, tender, with a citrus vinaigrette that made the flavors pop.  

Their shaved brussels sprouts salad, while not unique in form, was elevated in flavor. I took a greedy second helping of this dish.  
I also enjoyed crostini with roasted tomatoes, prosciutto, arugula, and house made ricotta. Nicely presented, and perfect for sharing. 

My favorite dish of the night was a twist on carbonara. House made fettuccine (fabulous) with cauliflower puree instead of endless butter and cream, with a soft cooked egg on top. Really excellent. My photo really doesn't do it justice. The cauliflower was very subtle, and the creaminess it added was impressive. The house made linguini was the best I've had. 

Another favorite was crispy branzino with clams. I love how many seafood dishes Table 104 offers (and makes well).

Their generously seafood laden spaghetti is another great choice.

Lastly, we tried the pizza, fresh from an imported Italian oven. Simple, quality ingredients and a nice toothy yet thin crust make for a delicious pie.

I'm not usually a dessert person, but I couldn't resist trying their lemony ricotta pancakes. I believe they are also available at brunch. Order them. You won't be sorry, I promise.

If you're looking for satisfying Italian food that's not heavy or predictable, try Table 104. It's a welcome addition to the Stamford dining scene. Table 104 is located at 299 Long Ridge Road, Stamford, CT. Follow them on facebook here.