Wilton has a delicious, little secret—flawless Italian food
by Jane Stern
Restaurant critics (me included) can be a sneaky lot. We make reservations under fake names, we dress shabbily to see how we are treated, and, easiest of all, we go to restaurants when they least expect to be reviewed. We tried all three tactics at Bianco Rosso and had a spectacular series of meals each time. Lunch on a rainy weekday, dinner for one on a busy night, eating at odd hours when the chef might be taking a break made no difference—every meal was flawless as was the service.
Bianco Rosso is a new place that is already making quite a name for itself. Word of mouth has saved it from its hidden-away location in Wilton, part of a little mall between a nail salon and a bagel place. Unless you went looking for it, you wouldn’t see it.
The restaurant is modern, chic and streamlined in a hip way. It looks very contemporary, and as soon as you enter, you are struck by the spacious, well-proportioned look of the place. You are immediately welcomed by a staff member (no waiting around wondering if anyone sees you). The staff is courteous and friendly but not fawning.
Bianco Rosso serves both lunch and dinner. The lunch menu is smaller than dinner but still excellent. The very thin pizza is right up there with the best in this pizza-rich state. The Margharita pie is gilded with fresh basil, tomato and mozzarella. It pairs beautifully with the Bibb salad—fresh greens with bits of roasted pumpkin, pumpkin seeds, pumpkin oil, ricotta and lemon vinaigrette—an original and beautiful combo. The baby spinach salad is chockabloc with beans, avocado, and goat cheese in a creamy peppercorn dressing.
We could not resist the retro-sounding spaghetti and meatballs. We prayed that it was not too “tricked out” and rejoiced when a lovely oval plate was served containing three perfect meatballs, al dente spaghetti and a homemade tomato sauce. If we had been lucky enough to have had an Italian nonni, this would have been her signature Sunday dish. A bit more adventurous is the fusilli with bite-sized pieces of roasted cauliflower and garlic. If you are a burger eater, you will love the hefty freshly ground dry-aged beef with Maytag blue cheese on a toasted potato bun. One other winner not to be overlooked is the muffaletta sandwich, a New Orleans specialty with olive spread, giarrdena, mortadella, salami, capicola, ham and provolone.
We started dinner with a mojito. If this was the only thing on the menu, we would still love this place because a perfect cocktail is hard to find. Here, though, fresh mint, freshly squeezed limes, rum, and ice are shaken to perfection.
The antipasti section of the menu is rich with diversity. One nice touch are the plates designed to be shared, including a cured meat platter for two comprised of prosciutto, mortadella, sopressata, bresaola, eggplant purée, buffalo mozzarella and a dab of tomato reduction.
Another nice dish to share is the appetizer of five well-selected cheeses served with figs, almonds, and quince jam. If you have traveled in Spain, you will remember this dish fondly. It pairs beautifully with a glass of sherry.
Bianco Rosso also served the most miraculous Mozzarella en Carrozza, a dish that is mangled in 99 percent of the places that serve it. It is a small deep-fried slab of Mozzarella cheese, and 99 percent of the time, it is served dripping with oil and a sure recipe for indigestion. At Bianco, though, it is deep fried yet utterly greaseless— amazing.
The wonderful lunch pastas are available for dinner. There are six on the menu and none are bad. The Linguini Vongole (pasta with Long Island little neck clams) is splendid. This is a dish served at most every Northern Italian restaurant in Connecticut, but few are as well made as this.
Many years ago we asked James Beard what the most difficult dish was to prepare: the answer was (surprisingly) roast chicken. Of course we ordered the roast chicken with mashed potatoes and natural juice at Bianco Rosso. We loved it.
Fish lovers will find a wonderland of choices, from a pan-seared red snapper served with saffron potatoes, tomatoes, olives, thyme and garlic. The Branzino Filet is studded with bits of pepperonata, pancetta and pinot noir sauce. Also highly recommended is the baked New Zealand Organic King Salmon served with broccoli Rabe, lemon confit, pignoli nuts and crisp beet chips.
The desserts are the weaker part of the menu. It is not that they are bad, just limited and not surprising. What we liked best were the simplest of all—the sorbets, especially the refreshing citrus ones.
There was not one bad dish among the many we tried. We love Bianco Rosso, because in addition to feeding us well, meal after meal, it made us excited about dining in Fairfield County and the high standards it sets for others.