After many years of working in other restaurants, Restaurateur Juan Ceballos and chefs / brothers Vinicio, Sergio and Bolivar Llanos have adventured out to create Arezzo Ristorante & Bar. Arezzo’s is located at 5 Riverside Avenue in Westport, CT and is named after a city in central Italy. Arezzo Ristorante is an Italian restaurant with waterfront dining alongside the Saugatuck River.
The gorgeous waterside view of the tranquil Saugatuck River from their striking stone patio and gardens is sure to be a big hit come summertime. The newly renovated restaurant includes the addition of a brick-faced wood-fired oven and an expansive wine bar furnished in dark wood furnishings and rich brown leather chairs and ottomans. The atmosphere places you in Italy; with high ceilings, wood beams, stone archways, skylights, and a rustic dining area. The Tuscan orange walls are adorned with paintings from the art gallery next door, changing often.
Arezzo’s menu emphasizes traditional regional Italian cuisine as well as more contemporary preparations. Using locally sourced ingredients, two different specials will be offered daily, one centered around pasta, then other around seafood. The pasta is made fresh each day. The Neapolitan style pizza will arrive to your table straight from the wood-fired oven. Seasonally influenced pizza specials will be offered. Not only will the wood-fired oven be used for pizza, but other dishes that are evaluated by the ranging high heat and smokiness of the wood-fired oven.
Our evening of sampling begun at Arezzo’s wine bar with cocktails and an array of small bites and pizzas. For cocktails we selected the Lemon Drop, Mexican 75, and French Kiss. They are in the process of revamping their specialty cocktail menu, so some of the ones we enjoyed may not be available in the near future but always ask just to make sure. The Lemon Drop is a lemony mixture of Purity Vodka, Limoncello, and sour mix topped with Propsecco. A Mexican 75 is a margarita like blend of Cruz Silver tequila, lime juice, and agave nectar topped with Prosecco. The French Kiss is a twist on the classic French Martini where Prosecco is added to the mixture of vodka, Chambord, and pineapple juice. You won’t be disappointed with any of these cocktail choices.
From the bar menu we were treated to an array of items: Lobster Arancini, Italian Sausage Skewers, and Rosemary Marinated Shrimps Skewers. Samples of their wood-fired pizzas included the Margherita, Focaccia Robiola di Arezzo, and a seasonal pizza.
The Lobster Arancini with saffron aioli and lemon was a tasty lobster filled risotto balls that was fried to beautiful golden brown. The Italian sausage married well with the sweetness of the roasted peppers.
Wood-fired pizzas included the Margherita with fresh tomato, basil, and homemade mozzarella; Focaccia Robiola di Arezzo: focaccia smeared with rubiola cheese and drizzled with white truffle oil; and the seasonal pizza came with Fontian cheese and mushrooms. All pizzas had plenty of topping laying on a thin crust of crispy pizza dough. The crust was slightly charred, not overly charred like some places, from the wood-fried oven.
The Rosemary marinated shrimp skewers came with a surprise, a sweet and juicy scallop. Both the shrimp and scallop were nicely grilled with the rosemary adding depth to the seafood.
As the evening continued, individuals at our table tried different cocktails: Strawberry-basil Margarita, Blue Moon, and Chocolate Martini. The strawberry-basil margarita was a light and refreshing blend of Cruz Reposado tequilla, triple sec, lime juice, fresh strawberries and basil. The Blue Moon was a gin based cocktail where the citrus flavor of the gin was at the forefront. The chocolate martini was a rich and chocolatey blend of Godiva chocolate vodka, Frangelico, a splash of Creme de Cacoa, and half and half.
After enjoying the cocktails and food at their cozy bar, we adjourned to our tables where we nibbled on fresh baked bread, eggplant relish, and marinated olives as we awaited for our trio of pasta, the first of the “entrees.” The trio of pasta consisted of Risotto, Short Rib Tortellini, and Cavatelli ai Pisell. The creamy and luscious risotto had fresh porcini mushrooms incorporated into it and combined with the drizzle of truffle oil gave it a nice earthy taste. The short rib was nice and tender with just a touch of more salt than my palate likes. The Cavatelli ai Piselli had several layers of flavor from the tomato sauce with the sweet and hot sausage. All pasta was freshly made and cooked to nice level of al dente.
Moving on, we had Pan Seared Halibut with caponata puree, fregola, and vegetables. The nice size portion of halibut was nicely seasoned, but slightly over cooked for my taste. The caponata puree had autumn flavors of nutmeg and cinnamon that complemented the halibut. The finely diced vegetables incorporated into the fregola evaluated the level of flavor.
Another entree we enjoyed was the Roasted New Zealand Lamb Chop with spinach, tomato, and Yukon potatoes. The lamb chops were cooked to a nice medium rare with just enough seasoning needed to draw out the flavor of the lamb. The presentation of the perfectly cooked vegetables with the lamb chop made the dish look clean and balanced.
We finished off the evening with two of Pastry Chef Patricia Llanos’ dessert offerings: vanilla Panna Cotta with fresh berry compote and Nutella Pizza. The berry compote complimented the panna nicely. The slightly sweet Nutella was layered between two crispy, thin layers of pizza crust.
Hopefully, summer will arrive soon so we can return to Azerro to enjoy a delicious meal on their lovely patio while taking in the scenic views of the river.