A couple of months ago I had the pleasure to attend a press dinner at Table 104 Osteria and Bar in Stamford, Connecticut. Tucked away unassumingly on Long Ridge Road, this unpretentious restaurant offers exceptional fare. Together Chef Domenico Iovieno, Restaurateur Walter Cappelli and Chef and Restaurateur Enzo Bruno have teamed up to produce a restaurant that is vibrant, inviting, spacious and modern. Table 104 offers a menu that is creative and inspiring with notable influences from Rome and the Italian coastline.
As I joined my my colleagues at the bar I was drawn to the Fried Olives. Served with Harissa Oil and a House Whipped Cream cheese, these large, green hearty olives revealed tender, meaty centers beneath a crunchy exterior.
Next to the olives was a tray of filled with beautifully Grilled Prosciutto Crostino made with whipped ricotta, roasted tomato and arugula. Drizzled over the top was an aromatic balsamic vinegar that nicely juxtaposed the saltiness of the prosciutto and the mellowness of the whipped cheese. The flavors and textures blended perfectly. I would have helped myself to a second serving, but I knew I had a smorgasbord of food ahead.
From the bar we headed over to our table where we were served a smorgasbord of earthly delights! We first sampled the Grilled Mint Shrimp, Grilled Octopus and the Shaved Brussels Sprouts. The Grilled Mint Shrimp was served over zucchini, drizzled with chestnut honey and topped with feta and toasted almonds. The shrimp were tender, the mint was light and and the chestnut honey offered a lightly sweet and nutty essence that balanced out the saltiness of the feta. The flavor of the shrimp was not at all overwhelmed by the bold flavors.
The Grilled Octopus was served with celery, scallions and warm potatoes with a light Citronette dressing. I must admit that I adore octopus and order it as often as I can. With all the wonderful and varied octopus dishes around, this one stood out for me, and I will go so far to say that this may well be one of the best I have ever had. The meat was succulent, tender and perfectly flavored.
Next up were the Shaved Brussels Sprouts with shallots, raisins, pine nuts and Parmigiano. I had expected not to be terribly keen on this as I am not often a fan of mixing sweet and savory, but it worked here. I worried about the raisins of which there were just a few. Their sweetness was minimalized and balanced out by the shallots and Parmigiano. The combination worked and I helped myself to seconds.
For the pasta course we started off with the Cauliflower Carbonara Fettuccini. Made with a cauliflower fondue, Bacon and Poached egg, this this dish is as rich as you'd expect, and the cauliflower puree adds an unexpected flavor. I loved this creative take on a very traditional Roman dish. A pizza-oven roasted cauliflower was to some cream and then pureed. Bacon was then added to create the right amount of smokiness. The poached egg on top offered the visually perfect accoutrement. Vegetarians can ask for this dish to be prepared without the bacon.
Following the creamy cauliflower was a spicy seafood pasta trifecta. For those who like a good cioppino, the San Fran Linguine abounds with generous amounts of octopus and calamari. As prepared, the dish is very good, but what set it apart was the hot oil that I drizzled over the top. For those liking a little extra kick, I encourage you to do the same. For those preferring extreme heat, toss in the peppers that have been infusing the hot oil. When ordering this dish do ask for the hot oil on the side. You will thank me.
It's not an Italian restaurant if there's no pizza (at least in my book.) A large Hell Pizza, a spicy blend of sopressata, Calabrian Long Hots, San Marzano tomatoes and house made mozzarella was presented to us. I wonder if my particular slice may have been a little lighter on the long hots – I bit into spicy excellence. While my slice did not send my mouth on fire, the person to my left was on the verge of notifying the fire department!
Following, we were presented with the Branzino Fillet, Barolo Braised Beef and the Waygu Burger. I’m not much of a burger person, so it wouldn’t be quite fair for me to pass judgement here. I will say that the fries were exceptional! I enjoyed the branzino served with manila clams, a cherry tomato sugo and red quinoa. The fish was cooked perfectly – tender, flaky and full of flavor with a crispy crust. Of these three my favorite was the Barolo Braised Beef served over house made, hand-cut pappardelle. The meat was tender to the bone and melted in my mouth with a flavor that was smooth, velvety and bold. Although we're in the midst of a heatwave, soon the temperatures will cool, and this will be perfect on a chilly fall or winter night.
Our meal was rounded out by a Hazelnut Tiramisu made with Bailey’s Irish Cream, Frangelico and Dark Chocolate and a Lemon Ricotta Pancake served with Canadian Maple Syrup and Whipped Mascarpone. Tiramisu lovers will not be disappointed. This rendition of the traditional Italian treat is almost mousse-like and the traditional coffee and chocolate flavors are enhanced by the subtle yet bold flavors of the Bailey’s and Frangelico. Lemon lovers will want to slip a fork into the Lemon Ricotta Pancake. The ricotta makes these melt-in-your-mouth pancakes particular light and airy. The Canadian maple syrup offers the perfect balance to the tart lemon.
In addition to the spacious restaurant, a private lower level serves as the perfect event space with private bar and fireplace that can accommodate 45 seated and up to 60 people reception style. A charming outdoor patio seats just over 30. Table 104’s wine list is a well thought out offering a nice selection of Italian varietals, global favorites and some lesser known wine makers that produce exquisite wines. On Monday bottles of wine are offered at a 50% discount. An extensive and creative craft cocktail menu changes seasonally and “Social Hour” food and drink specials are offered Tuesday-Friday from 4-6:30 PM. Parking is not an issue here with a spacious parking lot offering valet parking on weekends, holidays and for special events.
I've yet to experience Sunday Brunch, but I've been told it's quite special with a delectable buffet and made to order entrées, as well as live acoustic music throughout the afternoon.
A lovely and lively neighborhood restaurant, Table 104 should be on your radar. Bring a friend – bring a few friends so that you can share all the wonderful dishes.
Table 104 Osteria & Bar - 299 Long Ridge Rd, Stamford, CT 06902 Phone:(203) 388-8898
A similar version of this article first appeared in CTBites.