myMEGusta Samples: Bar Rosso
Bar Rosso, the cavernous vino bar on Spring Street in Stamford, CT, opened to great fanfare in early 2011. Created by the parent company of the wildly popular Napa and Company, Bar Rosso promised a casual but delicious ambiance with great food, and, for the most part, it continues to deliver.
Small bar snacks and light dishes are the calling card for this gathering place for the attractive after-work crowd as well as local denizens having a night out with the girls (or the guys, for that matter, transfixed by sports TV over the bar). The layout begs for easy, simple dining, with the majority of downstairs seating being at or near the bar, including an expanse of space overlooking the wood burning pizza oven (more on that later).
Sharing is easy and encouraged, a perfect way to taste little dishes like crispy honey calamari (accented with chopped olives and parsley) and zesty meatballs and gravy. Spicy shrimp and bean disappointed, not in its sparkly flavor, but in undercooked cannellini beans. An excellent selection of greens (“field lettuces”) and shaved raw vegetables such as carrots, beets and fennel were a perfect foil for not-too-sweet honey-thyme vinaigrette.
The Bar Rosso burger, brilliantly served with a generous portion of lightly dressed mixed green salad (as opposed to something fried, no guilt there!) was delivered exactly as ordered: pink but juicy prime sirloin on a focaccia roll garnished with mushrooms, prosciutto, crispy shallots, provolone and balsamic aioli. This spurred our group to order some polenta fries: airy, almost cake like, bars of polenta, lightly fried with a sprinkling of sea salt, and in an appropriate, modest portion.
The pizza was good, but “good” is not good enough in this part of the world where there are truly stellar examples to be found on almost every corner. What was billed as “tomato gravy”, slow cooked, complex Sicilian style red sauce (as served with the meatballs), was really a marinara, nice but not accurate. The fresh mozzarella, basil and pepperoni were right on target (how hard is that?) but the crust, while competently chewy and flavorful, was crisp, but not crisp enough. One charming touch was the delivery of extra garlic, red pepper flakes, and grated cheese immediately before the pie arrived.
Desserts continue in the Italian bent, including excellent gelatos, an order of which brings three scoops of flavors like fresh mint, citrus crème fraiche, deep chocolate, salted caramel, or olive oil.
Service is exceptionally friendly without being intrusive, and well versed on the menu, wines and kitchen.
The exclusively Italian (with the exceptions of one high priced Champagne and the “house” Cabernet from Napa, its relative down the street) wine list ranges from the very affordable to the very expensive, a strategy also evident in the by-the-glass selection. Wines are arranged by grape and style, easing the way for those who may not know their Italians, particularly the esoteric, while still providing an adventure for the more knowledgeable customer.
Bar Rosso, 30 Spring Street, Stamford, CT 06901 (203) 388-8640 www.barrossoct.com