Tag: Italian restaurants

Ventuno: refreshing and delicious

Ventuno: refreshing and delicious

Ventuno has been at 21 Federal for about seven years now, and has been a very good restaurant since its inception. However, it is an absolute delight to walk into a familiar restaurant and find fascinating new dishes on the menu. Not just variations on the old Italian theme, but truly creative dishes you probably never had before.

This is the case with this year’s Ventuno menu, which has undergone a significant upgrade. We were particularly struck by Faggiano e Funghi:   hand-cut egg pappardelle, braised wild pheasant & mushroom sugo, parmigiano & savory breadcrumbs. Imagine pheasant and mushrooms on pasta in any other Italian style restaurant. And it was absolutely delicious! It is available in appetizer and full entrée sized portions ($19 and $36). The textures of the pappardelle (noodles) and the thin slices of parmesan cheese, intermingled with pieces of pheasant along with a delicious mushroom sauce were truly a marvelous experience. In fact, we both ordered it: one as an appetizer and one as a main course and both were thrilled with it.

small pheasant fungi

Just as interesting, if not original was their Insalata: sweet gem lettuces, soft herbs, torn bread croutons and house red wine vinaigrette ($15 ). It was a feast for the eyes as well as in its consumption. Or, to put it clearly: it was a great salad.

salad

Finally, our other entrée was Agnello: slow-cooked & grilled lamb coppa, heirloom polenta, broccoli rabe & minted ramp gremolata ($38). According to our waitress coppa is lamb shoulder, marinated for three days and then quickly grilled to medium rare. Just inside the crunchy exterior is delicious, juicy, pink lamb. This was an entirely new preparation we’d not seen before, and we loved every bite.

lamb

This year’s menu is slightly simpler, but it is still organized into Antipasti (seven items), Primi (4 appetizers), Secondi (six items), Un Morsi (3 side dishes), Un Morso per La Tovalo (six table sharing items) and Dolci (six desserts).

bombolonciniUnfortunately, we didn’t have room for a dessert, but you can choose from Bomboloncini (chocolate donuts and gelato and chocolate sauce), Pistachio tart, Panna cotta, Granita (watermelon and strawberry), ice creams, and Crostata:  stone fruit crostata & cisco lemon thyme ice cream. All great ways to end a meal at Ventuno.

If you haven’t visited recently, do come by and try their excellent new menu.

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Aranci 67 in Wilton

Aranci 67 in Wilton

After several years in Georgetown, the owners of Aranci 67 moved to Wilton, occupying the 142 Old Ridgefield Rd space briefly held by Cielo and before that by the popular Luca. The owners, Julia and Antonio Perillo, have moved the ambiance and warm service, but the menu is according to my old notes somewhat different than in Georgetown although Antonio is still the chef. If anything, the current menu is better.

We checked out Aranci 67 last summer, soon after it opened, but waited for it to shake down before reviewing it. The restaurant is a solid, quality Italian restaurant with imaginative and well-prepared food. The restaurant has about 12 tables and still features a triptych of a Sorrento orange grove. “Aranci 67” is the actual address of the family’s home in Sorrento, in the “laces” section of the Italian boot.

tables

We visited solo on a Tuesday night and were warmly welcomed and seated right away. The bread was warm and butter was available.

crab cakeFor our appetizer, we ordered the crab cake (Polpetto di Granchi, $12), served with their aurora sauce. The excellent cake was mildly spicy from flecks of red peppers, and was served with a small salad with oil and vinegar dressing.

Our entrée was a really outstanding boneless trout (Trota al Limone e Capperi, $24) which was both tender and flavorful, served with a lemon and caper sauce. We were really impressed by how delicate this was, although it was substantial.

trout

Finally, for dessert, we had a flourless chocolate torte, made with almond flour, which was fine, and almost more than we could eat after the two main courses.almond cake

Aranci 67 is open for lunch Monday through Friday from 12-3 and for dinner Monday through Saturday from 5 to 10 pm, and closed Sundays. We are glad to welcome them to Wilton.

Fusaro’s on Nantucket: a family Italian restaurant

Fusaro’s has been around for four years now and have really hit their stride. The food and service are excellent and it is wildly popular: witness the packed interior on a Tuesday night. Fortunately, the patio was still available and fairly quiet. The parking lot fills up sometimes, but there is additional parking behind. You turn left out of the restaurant and take the first left to the additional lots. Fusaro’s does not take reservations, but they are quick and accommodating, and you probably won’t wait long.

Their menu is classic red sauce Italian, but exceptionally well prepared. It includes 10 antipasti, 5 salads, 9 pasta dishes, 6 “favorites” like Bolognese,  7 entrees like Veal Marsala, and Fisherman’s Stew, and a few side dishes like spiral cut zucchini. Among those antipasti is their favorite: Nana Jean’s Meatballs, with pomodoro sauce and herbed ricotta, which we recommend highly.


Most of the dinner entrees come with a small side salad, and you can “upgrade it to Caesar” for just $2. This amounts to adding focaccia croutons and shaved pecorino to the salad. This is a really nice touch.

On this visit, we tried their Veal Parmigiana ($23), a large slice of fork-tender, flavorful veal served on pasta and topped with parmesan and mozzarella. It may have been one of the best examples of this simple dish we have ever been served.

We also tried their amazing Lasagna ($19), which they describe as “five layers of ricotta, parmigiana, mozzarella, pork and beef ragu.” It was simply outstanding, and more than we could finish.

Desserts at Fusaro’s are fairly standard, (tiramisu, cannoli, gelato, brownie supreme and cheesecake,  but we were too full to indulge. Even with 2 glasses of $14 wine, the bill (with tax and before tip)was only $82.  It’s no wonder Fusaro’s is so popular, especially with families.

Fusaro’s is at 17 Old South Rd, and it is easy to drive right past it.Look for the flags.

diners