An Arthur Avenue favorite dishes up homestyle Italian right in Stamford
photographs by bob capazzo
The distance to the Bronx just got shorter. That is, if you’re looking to eat Arthur Avenue-style Italian—and to mangia until you can’t mangia anymore—Patrizia’s near Columbus Park has a table with your name on it. Many restaurants in our area claim Arthur Ave. cred, but this one is actually an outpost of the original Bronx and Brooklyn eateries. The newest Patrizia’s serves abundant traditional Italian food in a relax-and-stay-awhile atmosphere.
Early on a Saturday night our party of six was seated at a table wedged next to a large post in the middle of the dining room. We eyed the cushy banquettes along the back wall of the dining room with envy, but all were taken. (I plan to request one next time, as this type of eating is best enjoyed with plenty of elbow room.) Patrizia’s took over the space that was Market, and remnants of the décor remain, such as the brick-backed bar with flatscreen TVs and garage-door windows that open for sidewalk seating. But the dining room has been warmed up to suit the cuisine, with tables dressed in red cloths topped with white paper. The semi-open kitchen affords views of Executive Chef Greg Depelteau and his team churning out dishes from a menu that’s evolving. “The specials here are more important than the menu,” Depelteau told me later. “We’re doing lots of braises and fresh seafood dishes every day.”
Though our drinks order was promptly taken, menus were slow to arrive, or so I thought, until our waiter appeared and encouraged us to skip the printed lineup altogether: “OK, you want family style?” he suggested. No menus would be needed, as we could put ourselves in the capable hands of the chef. The multicourse meal would include wine and dessert. We promptly agreed, assuring him that we had no allergies and the food world was our oyster.
This launched a meal of epic proportions, with one tempting dish after the next. We started with a platter of top-quality, fresh mozzarella, presented simply with a few tomatoes and coarse salt. The calamari was served lightly grilled and with arugula; we liked the smoky flavor, though a fried version is available for those who prefer it.
A fun New York vibe is always on the menu
What’s an Italian place without amazing meatballs? Patrizia’s delivers with these terrific, tender meatballs topped with cherry peppers and a lightly spicy sauce—a standout of the evening. More starters included a platter of salume and cheese, with a very tasty mortadella, as well as speck, soppresata, parmesan, zucchini and olives. A lighter appetizer that was one of my favorites: a chilled seafood salad with calamari, mussels, shrimp, peppers, red onion and celery in a peppery sauce. It didn’t stop there, as we were soon presented with a bright, lemony salad of arugula, beets and fennel as well as a classic eggplant rollatini, an excellent version that’s topped with chopped herbs and basil leaves and received raves from the rollatini fans in our group.
This rich selection of starters might have blurred into the main course, if we hadn’t been presented with fresh white plates to announce the arrival of entrées. By this time, the waiter had already asked whether we wanted anything wrapped up, and the leftover dishes came out in “I Love NY” bags. In the end, we brought home four takeout containers—it was that much of a feast. Though feeling full already, we happily indulged in the pasta dishes the chef chose for us. If you’re partial to pink sauce, the Fioretti Boscaiola is outstanding, a four-cheese stuffed pasta with portobella mushrooms, prosciutto and peas. I also liked the gnocchi with a green basil sauce and cubed pancetta. This could easily have been the end to our meal, but then we would have missed out on an incredible version of Chicken Scarpariello, a rustic preparation with the juiciest chicken and spot-on level of spice. We were also indulged with a lobster dish that’s not on the menu (a perk of the family-style option). It’s a lobster that’s fried, chopped into parts, and dressed in a sauce of lemon, garlic, herbs, white wine and red pepper; loved the unusual preparation. The skirt steak came out too rare for some at the table, but this is a matter of personal taste.
Patrizia’s has that celebratory vibe, and there were not one but three tables out for birthday dinners; each enjoyed a rousing chorus of “It Was Your Birthday” sung by the waitstaff, a bit comical by the third round. Our meal felt like a special occasion too, ending with a platter of desserts ranging from tartufo (my obsession) and pear tart to tiramisu and a very fluffy, lush cheesecake.
The bill arrived, and the family-style tab of $55 per person seemed a good deal, as it covered such a huge quantity of food as well as wine and sweets. Later, when I looked at a menu (we were never given one), I noticed the line: “For parties of six or more or for family style, 20 percent gratuity will automatically be added to the bill.” This made me wonder: Did we double-tip the waiter? There was no indication on my receipt that a gratuity had been added to the bill. It was confusing, so I called and asked the manager. Apparently, the tip is not always included. If it is, you will see a line item on the check. This policy may change, so your best bet is to ask before you pay. Now you’ll know when you go, scan the bill with a bit of caution…but eat with abandon.
249 Main Street
Tue.–Thu., 11 a.m.–11 p.m.
Fri.–Sat., 11 a.m.–midnight
Sun., noon–10 p.m.