Map76 Westchester Ave
Pound Ridge, CT 10576
Moffly Media Review
Restaurant buzz typically revolves around the next big thing. But while new eateries come and go, some of the most noteworthy places are the ones still serving after all these years. This month we’re revisiting a favorite Italian restaurant in the Scott’s Corners neighborhood of Pound Ridge. Di Nardo’s is celebrating its fortieth anniversary this year. Ten years is considered an eternity in the restaurant world, so imagine what it takes for a family to keep a place thriving for four decades.
Frank and Maria Salvi, along with their children Jane and Nick, have been running Di Nardo’s since the beginning. It was one of two restaurants opened by the Di Nardo and Salvi families, friends who wound up splitting their businesses for convenience but retaining the name. Jane tells us that she grew up working in the restaurant, bussing tables starting at age seven, and that she has memories of the spaghetti-eating contests held on the patio. The menu today reflects the Salvi family’s heritage—they’re from Calabria in the “boot” of Italy—with rustic, homemade pastas as well as fresh seafood and special dishes such as calamari filled with shrimp and lobster, and burrata con prosciutto.
On an Indian summer evening, we ate outside on the brick patio, which is enclosed by iron fencing and flower boxes in bloom. After sitting for a moment, we could hear chatter from nearby tables that made it clear we were surrounded by regulars. At one table the waitress was asking her customers, “Did she have the baby yet?” At another, a woman announced with a smile, “We’re back again!” Since we are relative newcomers to the restaurant and couldn’t just order “the usual,” we took recommendations from our friendly waitress. The main menu is augmented with nightly specials as well as dishes and wines that celebrate a region of the month (Sardegna on the night we visited). There’s also pizza and a kids' menu.
We started with the complimentary hot focaccia bread—so good we couldn’t say no to a second basket. Homemade chicken meatballs were tender, light and moist. An especially fresh appetizer was zucchini flowers filled with tomato, basil and mozzarella, and served with marinara sauce. These delicate veggie blossoms are lightly fried and have a subtle sweetness to them. For a lighter starter, there’s a selection of salads, including a popular kale with Brussels sprouts, almond and pecorino cheese. Most of the pastas are house-made, including the chitarra, gnocchi, spinach lasagna and fettuccine; whole wheat and gluten-free pasta are available, too. We opted for the homemade cannelloni, a standout stuffed with spinach and sweet sausage and topped with a sauce that tastes of juicy tomatoes with just a hint of cream. Branzino is served whole and filled with shrimp, zucchini and leeks.
Among the tempting desserts are homemade tiramisu and ricotta cheesecake. Being a coffee fanatic, I had to go with the Coppa Café, a shot of espresso poured over coffee gelato and crunchy espresso beans—a not-too-sweet java indulgence that perks up the end of the meal. Also on the sweets list are American and Italian versions of tartufo and a lush chocolate cake.
Many customers were hanging around after their meals enjoying a glass of wine or espresso and we felt comfortable doing the same. Jane Salvi stopped by our table to chat while we were finishing up and she reflected on the restaurant’s longevity. She says the success is as much about the generations of regulars—including people who ate here as kids and now come back with their own children—as the quality of the food. “It’s a feeling you get back from people,” she says. “It’s all about the connection.”
Lunch: Tues. – Sat., 12 – 3 p.m. Dinner: Tues.– Thurs., 5 – 10:00 p.m. Fri. and Sat.: 5 – 10:30 p.m. Sun.: 12 – 9:30 p.m.