May 24, 2013
Written by Fran Sikorski
Wednesday, 24 December 2008 11:02
When Michael Sornatale opened his first Italian restaurant in Westport in 1989, I immediately put it on my “favorite” list. Due to the talents of the chef and affordable prices, La Villa was successful, but the chef/owner was sidelined with back problems and closed the business in 2002. Following back surgery, with the Westport space now taken, he opened a restaurant in Norwalk.
When the original Westport space became available again, the chef/owner reopened La Villa in May 2007 addng “Trattoria” to the name, and offering abundant heart-healthy and low-fat dishes and free-range and organic foods. Diners are back savoring Chef Sornatale’s own interpretations of simple, fresh and flavorful foods. Special dishes are also prepared on request. It is amazing what comes out of that small kitchen.
Originally from Bari, Italy, Chef Sornatale attended culinary school in Italy, where he and his brother Vincenzo owned a café. He also traveled to enhance his culinary skills. In 1979, he came to the United States for a visit and never went home. He worked in restaurants and lived in the Bronx before opening his own restaurant in Westport. At Villa Trattoria, he is assisted in the kitchen by Deyannira Rivera.
A treat while you are perusing the menu is a generous plate of deep-fried, battered zucchini.
In addition to wraps and paninis, four soups — pasta e fagioli, minestrone, tortellini in brodo and minestra (escarole, sausage and bean) — highlight the luncheon menu, which also includes antipasti, salads and entrees. A signature salad is La Village, romaine lettuce with tomatoes, cucumbers, Gaeta olives, croutons, shaved cheese, smoked salmon and shrimp. Among the popular entrees are sole with cherry tomatoes and pignoli nuts topped with arugula in a white wine sauce and chicken scaloppini topped with eggplant, prosciutto and mozzarella in a brown sauce.
The dinner antipasti list includes crab cakes served with a mayonnaise-brandy sauce; thinly sliced tuna with arugula and shaved Tuscan cheese; stuffed eggplant with ricotta, spinach and mozzarella with tomato sauce; baked clams, mussels and shrimp; grilled wild boar sausage with cannelloni beans and cherry tomatoes; roasted peppers with anchovies; and fried or grilled calamari.
A large entrée menu satisfies all tastes. Among the pasta dishes are the real Italian meat lasagna and penne served with Bolognese sauce; there’s also risotto with calamari, shrimp, mussels, clams and lobster in a light tomato sauce.
Baked red snapper is prepared with Gaeta olives and capers in a white wine sauce; branzino, with celery, onion, carrots and potatoes in a light vegetable stock; grilled swordfish, topped with onion, cherry tomatoes in a white wine sauce; veal scaloppini, with artichoke and asparagus in a light cream white wine sauce; grilled T-bone topped with sautéed onions, peppers and garlic; and Cornish hen sautéed in a rosemary-garlic olive oil.
Housemade desserts are exceptional, especially the key lime pie, New York cheesecake, and chocolate molten cake, and crème brûlée. They alone will keep you coming back.
A big plus at La Villa Trattoria is sound control. How pleasant it is to dine and talk to a companion in normal volume. Welcome back, Michael Sornatale!
5 Bay Street
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