Named for things that please me (“me gusta” in Spanish) and rhymes with balabusta (Yiddish for “good homemaker”).

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

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6 thoughts on “myMEGusta Samples: Bar Rosso

  1. Now THAT’S a restaurant review! Let’s go sometime. New York Times, I hope you’re reading this; you could use someone in Fairfield County who knows what she’s talking about, and how to put it in writing.

  2. I agree with Bob. This review is amazing and extremely informative. Definitely want to go there!

  3. another Nancy on said:

    Aboslutely great analysis – not too effusive, not too negative – but certainly the right mix of critique that lends credibility and balance in a review – and stimulates the appetite! Whoever you are, Bob, I think you are on spot about this being NYTimes material – so much better than what we currently get in CT.

  4. Lisa keusch on said:

    You might want to update this blog entry. Napa pulled away its affiliation with this restaurant in September of 2011.

    • Hi Lisa

      Thanks for commenting on this!

      I have made some tweaks to the posting, per your suggestion. It’s odd though, the cabernet in October/November was specifically described as from their sister restaurant Napa and Company, and Mary was there (and I believe she is still at Napa).

      In any case, I really appreciate your eagle eye for the facts!

      Best regards,

      Mary Ellen

  5. Hi mary Ellen,

    I just came across this post. I appreciate your thoughtful review and insightful approach.
    The above poster, Lisa Keusch, is correct. Napa and I pulled away any connection to this restaurant in September. Unfortunately, they did not change the wine list to reflect that as they still represented the Napa & Co Cabernet I designed was somehow related. I can assure you that I was not there the night you dined.
    I can also confirm that I am most definitely and proudly managing (and own) Napa with my team of professionals and business is great!

    Please come by and say hello anytime!


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