May 24, 2013
Written by Fran Sikorski
Thursday, 28 May 2009 12:48
A love of the flavors, textures, aromas and creativity of Italian food and wine fueled the desire of co-owners Mark Mantione and Corky Viscardi to open Solaia Ristorante & Enoteca, a place where friends can meet, eat and drink in an intimate setting, enjoying traditional regional Italian specialties from menus that change seasonally.
The name “Solaia” means “a sunny place,” and indeed this restaurant has a warm and welcoming environment. The wine list offers 500 bottles and 45 hand-selected wines by the glass.
If you are with a group, there is the chef’s selection of salami and cheese to share, starting with a choice of three for $12; five for $16.50 and seven for $21.
Putting Solaia on the gourmet map is executive chef Daniel Castro from Mexico, who has been working at his craft for 25 years, and offers dishes for every palate. His tasting menus are marvelous.
Pastry chef Marco Ceas outdoes himself in originality with desserts, all $8, including cinnamon-dusted ricotta fritters with lemon cream and Sicilian cannoli with ricotta and chocolate chip filling with pistachio gelato. I know, I’m getting ahead of myself, but I always look at the dessert menu first to save room for a special one.
Among the luncheon appetizers ($9 to $16) are fried baby artichokes with garlic aioli, lemon and parmesan; pork and veal meatballs with ricotta cheese in tomato sauce; roasted pear and crispy prosciutto salad with fennel, argula, gorgonzola and walnuts; baby beets and Humboldt Fog goat cheese salad with mizuna and toasted walnuts; and arancini risotto with arrabiata sauce.
Also available are pizzettas, ($12 to $13), an Akaushi Kobe beef burger, jumbo lump crab cake sandwich and panini. Luncheon entrees ($12 to $17) are fresh herbs omelet, fried calamari or spice-crusted tuna salad, and pan-seared diver scallops with creamed spinach and roasted cauliflower.
House-made pastas are a delicious Solaia Bolognese; lobster and rock shrimp capellini with a creamy lobster sauce; bucattini all’amatriciana with red onions and Berkshire bacon; and potato gnocchi with pesto.
Dinner entrees, $20 to $34, are grilled swordfish, pan-roasted monkfish wrapped in pancetta, grilled filet mignon, Hudson Valley veal chop, and Tuscan and spiced organic chicken. Sides ($7) include polenta, broccoli rabe, Tuscan white beans, forest mushrooms and sautéed spinach.
An a la carte Sunday brunch, $9 to $18, offers appetizers, pasta, burgers, panini and entrees from lunch and dinner favorites. Dessert choices include warm chocolate budino with vanilla gelato and candied hazelnuts; pear crostada with Tahitian vanilla gelato and honey; raspberry, lemon and apricot sorbetto; and pistachio, caramel, chocolate and vanilla gelato.
Solaia Ristorante & Enoteca earned its fine reputation when it first opened three years ago and continues to delight diners.
363 Greenwich Avenue
Lunch, noon to 3 Monday to Saturday; dinner, 5 to 10 Monday to Thursday; 5 to 11 Friday and Saturday; Sunday brunch, noon to 3.
Special dinner prices Sunday through Tuesday.
Reservations recommended; handicap accessible for wheelchairs, call ahead; major credit cards; full bar, exceptional global wines from $9 to $25 vini al bicchiere (by the glass); $45 and up by the bottle; all bottles of wine up to $150 are 40% off all day Sunday and Tuesday; contemporary regional Italian, vegetarian selections; take-out, off-premises catering; private functions; smart casual dress; senior discount all week; monthly wine dinners; live jazz Wednesday evenings and during Sunday brunch; meter and garage parking.
Chef Jean-Louis Gerin, owner with his wife Linda of Jean-Lewis Restaurant at 61 Lewis Street in Greenwich, is the winner of the 2009 Toque D’Argent (best chef in America) award from the Maîtres Cuisiners de France. Chef Jean-Louis is responding to customers’ requests for dishes that are fun, approachable in price and easy to enjoy. Available daily is The Chef Bar, with first come, first served four-stool dining opposite the semi-open kitchen. In the dining room are three-course dinners and grand tasting menus in addition to a la carte dining. Reservations, 203-622-8450.
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