Easeful Luxury, Italian Style

Article by Jillian Fontana

Photography by New Light Creative Services

Originally published in Ridgefield Lifestyle

Local sommelier Jillian Fontana had the pleasure of interviewing Pietro Polini, owner of TerraSole Ristorante, on his expanded Lounge menu. Please read this exquisitely illustrated article for an insider look at the Ridgefield-famous eatery's latest offerings.

Ridgefield’s best kept dining secret is out. TerraSole restaurateur Pietro Polini is on a mission to bring the indulgent tastes of his Italian restaurant to more of us. The new, expanded Lounge Menu is now available in the entire bar and lounge area, where a sleek, modern vibe and a sultry Sofia Loren mural greet you upon entry. The white and cool tones give an air of Miami chic, but the aroma of the wood-burning oven brings you right back home. 

The lounge area consists of three seating options: perch yourself atop the glowy underlit bar, cozy-up in cushy white leather chairs at a table, or choose “the porch," a multi-seasonal al fresco dining area perfect for soft breezes and people watching. Blankets are graciously provided for all outdoor dining, ensuring guests stay warm and comfortable on these upcoming chilly fall nights.

Think of the new lounge menu as an Italian style happy hour: long, lingering and generous. Whether you're gathering with friends or heading out for an impromptu midweek date night, don’t just wait for that "special occasion" to pop in. 

To start, the hours: the lounge menu is available every day from 4-8 pm—much longer than a typical “happy hour” that is only two to three hours at best. Bonus: prices are much friendlier at this time, but the best news is that the dishes maintain their quality and portion.

I encourage you to linger like the Italians do: sip a drink or two of a specialty cocktail before ordering food. You’ll slow down and savor in a no-rush setting, as if you're relaxing in a Roman piazza. There are specially priced wines by the glass, and when is the last time you saw a (good) six dollar draft beer?

The menu hosts plentiful options for all palates. While TerraSole is most definitely an Italian restaurant, the sushi bar, crafted by a Nobu-alum chef, is top-notch and extremely creative. Don’t be surprised to find both Japanese and Italian influences on the Crudo menu; a seamless blending of the two cuisines. 

A particularly opulent lounge menu pairing is the Kobe Burger and Caymus. A richly marbled beef burger with fontina cheese, lettuce, tomato and spicy avocado aioli could only be complemented by sea-salt truffle fries. To drink, I recommend a glass of ultra-robust Caymus cabernet sauvignon. What could possibly be more satisfying? 

A fan favorite is the Brussels sprout salad, crunchy and decadent with a truffle-parmigiano reggiano vinaigrette and local goat cheese in a puff pastry bowl. This is a salad for a red wine if there ever was one.

The pizza oven gleams behind the bar, glossy black tiles matching the dots of char it produces. Polini explains, “The dough is a blend of semolina and rice flour. It’s lighter than regular pizza, topped with not just bufala mozzarella but the creamy stracciatella." The wood-fired pizza oven pulls double duty, too. On the entrée menu, you'll find many cuts of dry-aged prime beef seared to perfection, plus a juicy-spicy Pork Chop Scarpiello.

Often, guests will come in for the bar’s lounge menu and opt to add in a few other favorites since the menu is so extensive. A luxurious textural interplay is the “lobster crispy rice” appetizer, featuring batons of deep fried rice topped with chunks of lobster, jalapeño and chili. It must be tasted to be believed.

If weekdays are too hectic with work and kids' activities, you can experience many of the same menu items at brunch. Get your eggs and bacon in pasta form with the Bucatini alla Carbonara Terrasole, incorporating the traditional egg yolk and cured guanciale with pecorino for a silky pasta dish that hits all the spots. For a lighter option from the crudo bar, the Poke Bowl can be made with either wild king salmon or bluefin tuna, served with asparagus and bell peppers over quinoa. 

The glass enclosed wine cellar boasts many special bottles, including the heaviest hitters from Napa and Italy. However, a connoisseur’s delight is the by-the-glass selection. You can experience Amarone, Barolo and Brunello (Italy’s most important red wines) without having to purchase the entire bottle. This works out particularly well when your dining companion prefers white.

Do yourself a favor and take advantage of this treasure of a menu. It is an innovative and effortless option that certainly does not lack luxury. 

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