An evening of Reviews! Part 1- RomaNacci Pizza Bar and then Part 2- The Last Five Years – MTC Main Stage.
I just had an absolutely delectable meal on my way to the VIP/Red Carpet media night premiere of “The Last 5 Years” at the Music Theater of Connecticut in Norwalk Connecticut- let me tell ya all about it!!
I freely admit this is my first time ever venturing to the quaint town of Norwalk, (thank GOD for GPS) – Yep Howard F. has found Fairfield County!! It’s true, I am a “newbie” to the “Sound of Connecticut”, and in fact it is Kevin Connors, Executive Artistic Director of the MTC who “directs” me to my pre-show dinner destination. “Ya can’t get lost-I promise- 5 minutes down the road” Kevin exclaims, as he directs me down the road to his recommended eatery- “RomaNacci”- Product of Italy Pizza Bar!
True to Kevin’s word- “RomaNacci- Product of Italy” Pizza Bar is just a hop, skip and a jump down the way from the MTC Theater. “RomaNacci” is located at 250 Westport Avenue, Norwalk- yep- we be eating Westport style! The pizza bar, is true to its a name, a small intimate bar-like eatery that happily provides patrons freshly made, hand tossed, (yes- hand tossed and I have pictures) baked in a real red brick oven, plus a myriad of truly authentic “products of Italy” treats including, calzones, insalatas, fresh soups, and a most impressive dessert and espresso bar. By the way- on this Saturday evening- this place is packed with folks either in pre or post dine positions or picking up their boxed pizza pies!!
I am directed to one of the high-top wooden tables toward the back of the eatery- happily toasty and warm- (though it be April, the temp outside on this rainy evening hovers close to 34 degrees) and have an unobstructed view of the hustle and bustle of the “Pizza Maestros” hand tossing their “Disco Volantes” into upward free spins and then happily catching them as they spiral downward and into the awaiting mouth of the kiln.
Speaking of Maestros- RomaNacci is owned and operated by Chef Graziano Ricci and his son Domenic. In fact even on this very busy Saturday night, Graziano warmly greets me like old chums and happily makes various selections from the Pizza Bar- “Let me do what I do best”, he happily states and then adds- “and you do what you do best”- haha- yep that means “eat” – done deal!
Graziano, in quick succession, entreats me with “Insalata Speciale”, mixed greens, halved cherry tomatoes, Gorgonzola, cranberries, mandarin oranges, sliced almonds, enriched with a drizzle of a homemade citrus balsamic dressing. Son Domenic follows that with their oven roasted, homemade, “Soup of the Day” – vegetarian barley soup- thick, hearty and oh so perfect to erase the evenings chill. Up next Pizza-!
Pizza Choices: White Pizza, Focaccia, Stuffed Breads-calzones, I order from the Red Pizza menu and settle for the “Funghi”- a disc blanketed with wild mushrooms, caramelized onions and fresh fresh Mozzarella- sounds delish huh? Well guess what? It was! Straight out of the oven and right to my awaiting tastebuds- light, crispy, delicious- oooie cheese and yummy onions- a winning recipe!
Chef Graziano additionally seeks my thoughts on his home made “Pappardelle Alla Bololognese”- that he brings me from his 2nd restaurant, “Osteria Romana” also located here in Norwalk. Pappardelle, in house prepared- are large, very broad, flat pasta noodles served with good to the last drop chunky “home-style rustic meat sauce”. Words honestly cannot describe how luscious these decadent “Yankee Doodle” via Italy noodles truly are- as you can tell I quickly gobble them up as I slowly look down at my ever -expanding waistline!
Desserts? I should say no no no! But Chef Graziano insists- truly he does! – as he brings me a sampling of his home made cannolies prepared with a “honey” cannoli cream and drizzled with powdered sugar. From “The Crepe Kitchen” is born an enchanting thin pancake crepe layered with Nutella- a sweetened hazelnut cocoa spread- warm, delicious and oh so “chocolaty” good!
My quick pizza snack has turned into another culinary adventure- in fact I have become fast friends with the family at the adjoining table as we exchange “What are you having”? Yep- it’s ALL really really good eats!! RomaNacci of Norwalk CT. is an amazing food find and I have to truly thank, not only Chef Graziano, but Kevin Connors of the MTC for pointing the way to this “hidden gem” of a restaurant.
Ought oh! A quick look at my watch tells me it’s 45 minutes till the doors open at the MTC- and their production of “The Last 5 Years”. My review is forthcoming- my evening is not over yet!! BTW I understand the MTC is having a wine and cheese party right after the performance- more food, more reviews, MTC here I come!!
Howard Steven Frydman is General Manager and Executive Director of BATV – Channels 5, 95 & 96 and a member of the CCC. Please feel free to contact Mr. Frydman with your thoughts and ideas at Howardbatv@aol.com