Italian Alfresco

Just in time for the outdoor-dining season, Arezzo Ristorante & Bar has unveiled its new wine bar and wood-fired oven along with a fresh seasonal menu.

From the brick patio of this riverfront Italian, you can drink in views of the Saugatuck while sipping wine and feasting on authentic Tuscan cuisine. With its bistro-style chairs, wrought iron gates, garden setting and red umbrellas, the patio has a European feel, as does the family’s relax-and-stay-awhile hospitality.

The owners, restaurateur Juan Ceballos and brothers Vinicio, Sergio and Bolivar Llanos, have been working together for twenty years, developing successful Italian spots in New York. Here in Westport, executive chef Vinicio turns out an impressive lineup of dishes and also treats guests to tasting dinners.

On a recent Thursday evening, a couple of regulars told us that they don’t ask for menus, but instead tell Vinicio, “Bring us what you like.” We started our meal in the new wine bar, which is decked out in dark wood with coffee-colored leather seating. Our host recommended a crisp white wine called Coda del Volpe to pair with antipasti. Fired up on the new wood-burning stove, the Focaccia Robiola is a divine flatbread with melted cheese and white truffle oil that’s a must-order. Other wood-fired choices include nine varieties of Neapolitan pizza, such as a margherita and Contadino with eggs, mushrooms, fontina, truffle oil and prosciutto. You could make a meal of these starters along with the lobster arancini (fried rice balls) with saffron aioli or rosemary shrimp skewers. The main menu is equally robust.

Among the salads, our favorite was the shaved artichoke with radicchio, parmesan and truffle vinaigrette, so earthy. As you would expect at a good Italian, pastas are worth the indulgence, especially a spinach-flavored ravioli stuffed with veal and chicken in a porcini sauce, a rich, layered dish. Fish specials include a wild Alaskan salmon with mustard sauce and a fisherman’s stew with tomato and fennel; we loved the seared snapper with pattypan squash, carrots, mushrooms and zucchini in a chanterelle sauce. Hearty braised short ribs are swoon-worthy but not heavy; they’re paired with a farro risotto with crunchy veggies, a creative, healthy side.

Dessert? Dig into pastry chef Patricia Llano’s specialties, such as Nutella pizza or the rustic apple tart with olive oil ice cream for a not-too-sweet ending to a sweet meal. 5 Riverside Avenue, Westport, 203-557-9375;

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