I have one recommendation if you’re planning to eat at Locali Pizza Kitchen + Bar in New Canaan. Make a reservation. This tiny pizza and pasta kitchen on the far corner of Forest Street has been discovered by locals – and given that it’s only been open a few weeks and already has lines out the door, you’re going to need one.
We made the mistake of not calling ahead, thinking that at 6pm on a rain-drenched Saturday night in early January, there would be few people heading out for an early dinner. Wrong. We arrived to find all 12 tables filled with families and a few patrons enjoying a glass of wine at the six-seat bar. After a short wait, one rain-phobic couple failed to show up for their reservation and we snagged their table. Score!
Locali is owned by Anthony Legato, Mogan Anthony (a recent competitor on Food Network’s “Chopped”) and Joe Bueti. The trio are also the owners of the popular eatery, Village Social Kitchen & Bar in Mount Kisco, New York. And what they started in Mount Kisko, they have perfected in New Canaan. From the Umami Meatballs to tiramisu, each dish hit all the right notes; savory, sweet, creamy, crunchy – oh, then there’s the pizza….but we’ll get to that.
Because we are huge fans of fungi, we started with the savory truffled zeppole – how could we go wrong? Savory pillows of dough deep fried to a lovely golden brown and sprinkled with a generous helping of chopped truffle and sea salt. Amazing – please note that we received six of these delicious dumplings with our order, but could not help diving in before we had an opportunity to photograph our food. These alone are worth a second visit (and third, fourth).
In an effort to maintain my resolution to eat more vegetables in the New Year, we ordered the roasted Brussels sprouts with mortadella creme, Pedro Ximénez sherry and crushed pistachios. Sounds a little weird but somehow it all works.
Next, the umami meatballs pushed us over the flavor edge with a soft blend of pork, beef, and veal sitting on a bed of polenta and topped with a ladle of homemade tomato sauce. Creamy cheese curds melted slowly on top added a hint of salty creaminess. We finished every last bite.
Then our pizza arrived. Fresh out of Locali’s imported-from-Italy Stefano Ferrera wood-fired pizza oven was a classic Margarita pie that was just enough to be shared by two (or three if you had as many small plates as we did!). The pie’s contrast of crispy charred-in-spots exterior, chewy interior, tangy sauce, and creamy, homemade mozzarella was perfection on a pan. After just one bite, we understood why there was a line of customers willing to wait in the rain for a little slice of heaven.
Somehow, we managed to find a bit of room for dessert. Our server recommended the tiramisu and we ran with his suggestion. Served in a mason jar, and true to its classic Italian flavor the tiramisu was a delightful end to a well-executed meal.
The menu at Locali provides a balance of flavors suitable for families and the warm and inviting interior feels like a cozy nook away from home.
Nonna would approve, but even she will have to make a reservation.
Locali Pizza Kitchen + Bar, 32 Forest Street, New Canaan – (203) 920-1440