After a week of having my picture on the other side of the Patch Home Page, I am back on this side. It’s Monday, so let’s talk about a local restaurant.
is nestled snugly into a strip mall at 250 Westport Ave. in between County Road and Walter Ave by Bond Grill. My friend Mimmo recommended it and when your friend Mimmo recommends an Italian restaurant, you tend to pay attention. When Mimmo said we need to ask for Maurizio, I knew he meant business. Maurizio is direct from Rome, having moved here for the love of a Norwalk girl, now all of us get to benefit.
The spot has been a number of restaurants over the years before settling in to its present form a year and a half or so ago. The atmosphere is warm, but reflects the variety of establishments that have been here before it. The space is small and intimate, which fits the overall family theme and you can feel comfortable bringing the whole family … from grandma to the kids.
The menu has something for everyone, and they are very friendly and flexible, which in my mind makes or breaks an Italian restaurant. Too fussy and you can keep it, but you will not find me in Olive Garden. The inclusion of real classic Italian dishes makes Osteria Romana a destination restaurant. When you can find Spiedino, Broccoli Rabe and Guanciali alongside Spaghetti Pomodoro and Lasagne you understand you have the best of both worlds.
I started with a half order of Carbonara … rich, creamy and with the aforementioned guanciali (bacon made from pig jowls) and then went with Vitello alla Cesare…veal with asparagus and garlic. Not everyone would go that way, but I ordered well for myself and the meal really popped. Flavorful without going over the top, I was a happy camper.
Pam started with the Pasta e Fagioli which was thick and hearty, truly like what one would find around Rome. Not the normally soupy version most American restaurants typically offer. I loved it. She then had the pasta special, which was obviously home made, but the long, flat, wide noodles stuck together and took away from the overall quality of the plate. Not bad, it just fell short of the other 3 entrees which had us raving.
The lasagna could be used in a photo shoot for a gourmet magazine it looked so unbelievably perfect. Thick and zesty sauce, integrated cheeses with the perfect prep and presentation made this the overall winner. The gnocchi is not the typical potato dumpling you might find anywhere. It was a pasta knot prepared with cheese and a tomato sauce. Neither version is a particularly light meal, and you have to look before you leap. If you like traditional gnocchi, these will knock your socks off.
We finished with homemade limoncello and dessert. I have made limoncello in Italy using the alcohol that is available there (that is 99.9 percent alcohol and quite lethal if ingested as-is). This pure alcohol not being available here, the folks at Osteria Romana use Ever Clear. I have not been successful in replicating this experiment, but I will keep trying. I need the trade secret. The desserts were all heavenly, especially the tiramisu that I had.
Bottom line, Osteria Romana is a solid restaurant with great service at a fairly reasonable price. A full bar and decent wine list are also a positive, but a carafe of chianti is all you will need to accent the meal. Go and ask for Maurizio and tell him the blond that speaks Italian sent you, I think he will remember me.
250 Westport Avenue
Norwalk, CT 06851
Reservations: (203) 229-0844