First off, I’ve never had a bad meal with Juan Ceballos.  Ever.  So the bar was set high.  Wayyyyy high.

It’s that time of year when we try to take advantage of the milder weather and dine al fresco whenever possible.  That said, there are a a shortage of great restaurants with a water view.  We are happy to report that we have found a great spot just in time for spring.  Recently, we had the pleasure of visiting Arezzo Ristorante on the Saugatuck River in Westport.

Arezzo brings many of our favorite things together including great Italian food, a brick oven, and a beautiful view.  The atmosphere combined with a warm and knowledgeable staff will make anyone feel at home.

We began our evening seated in the upscale and comfortable bar area.  Sipping on a glass of a good Super Tuscan wine, we sampled a variety of classic and re-imagined appetizers.  The first appetizer to roll out was the Margherita pizza.  It was nice and thin with a flavorful sauce and excellent mozzarella. It was cooked to perfection, crispy due to the brand new brick oven imported from Italy. Just to solidify the excellence, they brought out a few more pizzas, one better than the next!

If that wasn’t enough, out came the Focaccia Robiola di Arezzo sprinkled with white truffle oil.  A savory treat with a magnificent crunch and aroma of truffle, we were all reaching for more!  Next up were the Lobster Arancini, Rosemary Marinated Shrimp Skewers, and Italian Sausage Skewers with Roasted Peppers.  The Arancini were a perfect golden brown on the outside with tender risotto and lobster on the inside.  The Shrimp Skewers were perfectly marinated and grilled with the bonus of  a scallop on each skewer as well!

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Feeling satisfied already, we moved into the dining room to sit down for the main event.  Unfortunately for us, it was pouring rain outside so we were not able to enjoy the view on this particular evening.  The disappointment of not getting to sit outside did not last long once the entrees were presented.  We were first given a trio of Risotto with porcini mushrooms and truffle oil, Short Rib Tortellini in a braised au jus sauce and Cavatelli ai Piselli in a pea-ricotta with hot and sweet sausage ragout.  The risotto was perfectly cooked with an excellent aroma from the mushrooms and truffle oil.  The Short Rib Tortellini had the perfect balance of being hearty but also delicate at the same time.  It brought together great flavors with the au jus sauce.  I would order a full portion any day of the week!  The Cavatelli ai Piselli was cooked to al dente perfection.  The ragout brought the cavatelli to the next level of delicious and was a favorite for many of our group, including Cristina and I.

One thing that I do not often order is lamb.  The aroma of some (lower-quality)  lamb can be off-putting.  When in the presence of good lamb, I will happily partake.  On this evening, I was certainly in the presence of excellent lamb.  The Roasted New Zealand Lamb Chops served with spinach, tomato, and Yukon gold potatoes showcased the lamb beautifully.  Well done, Arezzo, well done…

The final entree that we had the pleasure of tasting was the Pan Seared Pink Snapper with caponata purée, fregola, and vegetables.  The fish was cooked expertly and was complemented nicely with the caponata and the fregola.

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Feeling content, we moved on to dessert.  We are always anxious to see what Italian restaurants have to offer for dessert, as this tends to be the differentiator between good and great Italian restaurants.

We were not disappointed when the desserts showed up on our table.  We had the benefit of tasting both the Panna Cotta and the Nutella Pizza.  The Panna Cotta had just the right amount of sweetness with the silky smooth consistency of a great panna cotta.  It was served with a berry compote that add a nice sweet acidity to the dish.

The Nutella Pizza was definitely one of the stars of the evening.  Cristina is a Nutella-holic so she was more than excited to see this on the menu.  It lived up to expectations we had and exceeded them by far!  The pizza was crispy and savory with the chocolate hazelnut sweetness of the Nutella bringing the whole thing together.  All I have to say is to try it for yourself!

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We had an amazing evening at Arezzo and look forward to heading back in a few days!  Stop in and check it out, whether for drinks and appetizers, a full dinner, or even just dessert.  There is something to satisfy no matter what mood you are in.

-Cristina & Jeff

Arezzo Ristorante & Bar

Address: 5 Riverside Avenue, Westport, CT 06880

Phone: (203) 557-9375

Website: www.arezzowestport.com

Price: $$$

Do they take reservations? Yes, Click Here

Attire?  Business Casual

Vibe?  Warm, Rustic & Upscale

Outdoor Patio – YES!!

Hours: Sun – Thurs 11:00 AM – 3:00 PM, 5:00 PM – 10:00 PM

Fri – Sat 11:00 AM- 3:00 PM, 5:00 PM – 11:00 PM