Cotto Wine Bar (Stamford) – Food with Love from Italy

I finally returned to Cotto after a long hiatus and I am glad I did. The atmosphere was alive, the staff was friendly and knowledgeable and the food was very good. The chef recreates the cuisine reminiscent of numerous restaurants in Italy, straightforward Italian food that allows the flavors of the ingredients to shine. Unlike many Fairfield County restaurants where you feel rushed, there was not one iota of pushiness at our table and from what I noticed with the staff interactions at other tables, this is the owners’ philosophy.

Upon arrival on a snowy and icy evening we were met by one of the owners, Silvy Ridolfi, and escorted to our table by her husband and owner Claudio. The interior is beautiful, with photos of Silvy’s movie actress mother (she appeared in films with Sophia Loren) adorning one entire wall, a long bar the other, with a rounded wood covered ceiling creating a very European, slick environment

Once seated we were approached by our server, and over the course of our meal he proved to be an incredible source of information, recommendations and exceptional service. He guided us to several of his favorite dishes and was very competent in his wine selections to pair with the meal.

The menu is large and diverse and divided into several sections including Tapas, charcuterie, cheeses, pastas (with a separate section for house made) pizzas and entrees. We narrowed our choices and decided on a few tapas to begin the meal.

The “New Zealand Lamb Chops” were the best of the appetizers that we sampled. They were prepared to our requested medium-rare and accented with rosemary, garlic, Balsamic vinegar, extra virgin olive oil and served with arugula. The meat was rich and flavorful and worked well with the Balsamic. The “Grilled Calamari” was flash grilled and topped with a Balsamic reduction and served with lemon wedges and arugula. I recommend squeezing lemon juice on the calamari to balance the flavors. The “San Marzano Veal Meatballs” were served with a touch of tomato sauce and shaved Parmigiano Reggiano. The portion of six small meatballs were firm in texture with good flavor. The sauce was a nice complement to the herb-spiced meatballs.

Of the four entrees we sampled, the best was the “Organic Roasted Chicken.” The half chicken was roasted in the wood fired oven and delivered a crispy skin and a delicious and succulent interior. The freshly made “Tagliatelle” was served with wild boar ragu and was very good. The house made pasta was silky in texture and thick enough to handle the robust tomato sauce. I would prefer a little less sauce to allow for the rich flavor of the boar to come more to the forefront. The special “Ravioli” for the evening was a spinach ravioli served in a creamy cheese sauce and we asked if a Pomodoro sauce could be substituted. The raviolis were plump and excellent, and worked very well with the rich tomato flavor of the Pomodoro.

Save room for dessert. We ordered two to share, the molten chocolate cake and the bread pudding, both served with pistachio gelato. They were excellent. The chocolate cake oozed a delicious chocolaty center and the pistachio gelato was a great complement. The bread pudding included raisins and was fantastic, offering crispy and moist textures, sweetness and then offset by the pistachio gelato.

It was a great, fun evening of very good food in a relaxed and vibrant atmosphere. I really enjoyed Cotto and look forward to another meal.

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Cotto Wine Bar and Pizzeria – New Kid in Stamford

CTB Cotto ExteriorThere’s a new kid in town, Stamford that is, and its name is Cotto Wine Bar and Pizzeria. Husband and wife Claudio and Silvy Ridolfi have teamed with Chef Kevin Kraklio to create a traditional Italian menu (with a few exceptions) that includes a wide variety of Tapas, entrée-sized dishes and pizzas. Located in the space that formerly housed Tappo, the trio first transformed the interior into a sleeker space, with a front-to-back Italian marble topped bar along the right wall, black-and-white photos adorning the left wall (many of Silvy’s mom when she was an actress pictured with Marcello Mastroianni, Brigitte Bardot and David Niven), a curved wood-planked ceiling and an enormous gas fired pizza oven in full view in the rear. Raised in Rome, Cotto represents Claudio and Silvy’s first restaurant in the United States, while Chef Kraklio takes the helm of the kitchen after attending the French Culinary Institute and working at restaurants throughout Italy.

CTB Cotto BologneseAfter seeing the menu on-line, my curiosity got the better of me so I stopped for a quick lunch and I am incredibly glad that I did. I ordered the Rigatoni Bolognese and it was divine. The pasta was perfectly cooked to al dente and the beef and veal based sauce was rich, creamy, deep flavored, and was perfectly proportioned to the pasta. Other than a smattering of sautéed mushrooms, it was a traditional preparation with just a touch of cream and butter added at the end to highlight the flavors plus a sprinkling of crushed red pepper to add a little spice.

CTB Cotto NutellaAs I was speaking with the owners, they offered a thin-crust dessert pizza, made with focaccia dough and covered with Nutella, Rice Crispies and powdered sugar. I have always struggled with calling this combination a “pizza,” but regardless of the name the combination of the chocolaty sweetness, the nuttiness and the Rice Crispies was a great way to end the meal.

In addition, the restaurant currently offers 200 labels on its enormous wine list.

If my first meal is any indication of the food at Cotto Wine Bar and Pizzeria, it will be a go-to spot in Stamford. Stay tuned as CTbites revisits in a few weeks for a full review of this newest addition to Stamford.

Cotto Wine Bar and Pizzeria 51 Bank Street – Stamford, CT 06901 – 203.914.1400

The review was originally posted on December 4, 2012 on at

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