Assaggio Ristorante Brings Fine Italian Dining Harborside In Stratford

I have a fondness for the town of Stratford, having coached boys track at Bunnell High School two decades ago. Fine restaurants come to Stratford (Plouf, Tristan, Abalone), but all too often they don’t find enough support in this blue collar town. Thus, it’s good news when someone brings an appealing new restaurant to Stratford, but even better news when it looks as if it has a real chance to succeed.

I recently attended a press dinner at newcomer Assaggio Ristorante,


which occupies a spectacular waterside location on the Housatonic River in the shadow of the Washington Bridge that connects Stratford with Milford. The restaurant has extensive outdoor seating overlooking a marina full of pleasure boats.


We received a warm reception upon our arrival.


We awaited other guests at the bar, enjoying drinks,


some of the best fried calamari I had tasted in Connecticut,


and an impressive antipasto platter stocked with prosciutto di Parma, bresaola speck, sopressata, Gorgonzola, fresh bocconcini, Parmigiano Reggiano, Gaeta olives, artichoke hearts, hearts of palm, and roasted peppers.


Soon the restaurant was rocking with rousing Dean Martin tunes courtesy of Jack Lynn, a musician with similarly golden pipes.


I rousted myself from my bar stool to take some photographs of the surroundings. The setting could hardly have been more tasteful, the lighting more perfect. We particularly loved the photographs of Stefano Caporalli.


Large groups


were accommodated as comfortably as pairs.


There were even circular booths ideal for intermediate gatherings.


Credit for the restaurant’s classy but comfortable ambiance goes to owner Waldir Correia (left) and his talented architect, Ira Grandberg.


Shortly after, all of my compatriots had arrived, and we too were ensconced in a circular booth.


The company of old friends Linda Kavanagh


and Todd Lyon


guaranteed a warm and entertaining evening. A round of drinks didn’t hurt, either.


Soon our meal began in earnest. Bread was brought,


as well as tapénade and extra virgin olive oil.


The 2007 Argiano NC Rosso Toscano, Italy also shown above, a “super Tuscan” blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and Sangiovese grapes, was so beautiful, soft and food-friendly that I stayed with it throughout the meal. Seemingly, no detail was overlooked.


The parade of culinary delights was endless. There was an asparagus rollatini with prosciutto di Parma and Fontina cheese,


shown here in close-up;


and sweet roasted peppers stuffed with dolce latte Gorgonzola and drizzled with balsamic reduction,


shown here in close-up.


So many courses were planned that the kitchen, in the interest of closing before two in the morning, combined onto a single plate. So here you see three courses combined onto the same plate,


which individually were a tuna carpaccio with wild arugula, red onion and a caperberry in a citrus dressing;


a crêpe with wild arugula, shaved Parmigiano Reggiano, and speck (smoked prosciutto);


and finally, bresaola topped with wild arugula, shaved Parmigiano Reggiano, extra virgin olive oil and lemon.


Forming our next course, two pasta dishes were plated together.


Individually, they consisted of fresh orecchiette sautéed with prosciutto di Parma, wild mushroom, fresh cherry tomato, artichoke hearts, black truffle paste, garlic, extra virgin olive oil and shavings of Parmigiano Reggiano;


and fresh squid ink linguine sautéed with sea scallops and sweet roasted Italian peppers in a garlic and extra virgin olive oil sauce, then finished with fresh wild arugula.


We took a breather with a mâche salad with goat cheese, green apple and artichoke hearts in an Italian citrus dressing,


before moving on to our fish course. The two fish dishes (which I did not photograph separately) were pan-seared halibut sautéed with artichoke heart, cherry tomato, Gaeta olives, capers and fresh herbs in a Prosecco sauce; and pan-seared swordfish sautéed with fresh grapes, caper berries, dill and shallots in a white wine sauce. The first fish dish was slightly salty, the second slightly sweet, making a nice contrast when presented together.


Twin meat dishes followed:


veal scaloppini with prosciutto di Parma, sautéed wild mushroom and sage in a white wine sauce with a touch of demi-glace finished with black truffle paste;


and grilled rib-eye steak topped with broccoli rabe and melted dolce latte Gorgonzola.


Lovely, slightly crunchy potatoes separated the two meat items.

And finally, we arrived at dessert, a square of tiramisù served with a couple of brandied cherries that knocked our socks off.


At the end of the meal, to the delight of all assembled, owner Correia and his partner, executive chef Miguel D’Onofrio, came out and took a figurative bow.


Assaggio Ristorante, 955 Ferry Boulevard, Stratford, 203-381-9200

14 Responses to Assaggio Ristorante Brings Fine Italian Dining Harborside In Stratford

  1. Mary Bouteiller says:

    No doubt the food was wonderful, the staff very accommodating. However my friend ordered a chicken dish and wanted to substitute pasta for the potato and vegetable. Was told not allowed and she would be charged, OK. Well when the bill came and it was $9.00 for a little bowl of rigatoni I was slightly appalled. Our bill was $130.00 before tip. Are you kidding me? Really? $9.00 for a side of Rigatoni? On that note, I will never spend my hard earned money there again.

  2. Chris Klein says:

    Being in the industry for many years myself; as well as a lover of food and wine, I was eager to finally visit. Was able to stop by on a recent Friday night. I was impressed at first sight!

    My friend, a cultured epicurean with over 30 years in the industry, and I sat at the bar alongside a wonderful duo that played a diverse set from Getz to Pink Floyd. Amazing.

    The wine list is impressive, perhaps seven dozen offered by the bottle; approximately two dozen by the glass. The selection and generous pours brought smiles to our faces, as did the appetizers. Excellent all around.

    We enjoyed conversation with not only the owners Waldir and Miguel, but with the gentlemen performing that night. I even toured the kitchen before leaving. It is immaculate!

    This is a welcome addition to Stratford. I too have seen some fine places evaporate from the local dining scene over the years. Other waterfront establishments in town do not remotely compare to Assaggio. This is a MAJOR improvement from the prior venue at the location!

    Best of luck!!

  3. Mr Marc says:

    The management and staff are incredibly dedicated to providing a great dining experience. DON’T go for a quick meal! You’ll miss out on what can be a fantastic evening. Leave yourself a few hours, try as many different things as your budget allows, and revel in a fine Italian dining experience. And if you can make it on a Friday, there’s some great music that is pleasant and entertaining without being intrusive or overpowering.

  4. Micheal says:

    FYI ….They are not in any way a chain nor related to the one in Branford. Please do some research before criticizing a restaurant. The food there is outstanding, as well as service from the waitstaff and bartenders. The bartender in the picture was one of the best bartenders I’ve had in a long time. She was very polite and on top of things. I’ll definitely be going back to see her.

  5. Frank Cohen says:

    It’s my understanding that the two Assaggio’s are unrelated to any chains or to each other.

  6. Joan says:

    I wonder if this restaurant is associated with the Assagio in Branford. That is a wonderful restaurant. If it is a chain, I guess I like chains. It is a wonderful experience from start to finish. I’m going to try this place soon. It sounds like it is as good.

  7. Rosangela says:

    It’s the best Italian food restaurant that I’ve even been. The food is wonderful!

  8. Frank Cohen says:

    Editor’s Reply–There may be a restaurant chain by that name, but Assaggio Ristorante in Stratford is a stand-alone restaurant, NOT a chain. Let be where false rumors come to die.

  9. stefano says:

    Like the Olive Garden. I don’t know about anyone else but I would rather support non-franchise restaurants in the area.

  10. jessi says:

    I have been wondering about this place and from the photos it seems like it’s worth a try. If the food is as good as it looks than I don’t care who makes the food and where they come from. A good chef is a good chef! I am hopeful that it will be good so i can add it to my list of very few restuarants that i think are worth mentioning in the area.

  11. Frank Cohen says:

    We have many restaurants in Connecticut that serve cuisines that don’t match the owners’ or chefs’ backgrounds. It’s fair to judge a restaurant based on the quality and authenticity of its food, but not on the background of its owner or chef.

  12. foodlover says:

    OMG, the best ossobucco I’ve ever had in my life. I’m so greatfull that we finally have a great restaurant in Stratford. I loved everything about the place, great service, great food, loved the complimentary belines, I can go on and on… Highly reccomend.

  13. Fabiane Faria says:

    I have tried the restaurant my self. And loved it! I did not had a chance to try so many dishes and cannot wait to go back. This is a place were the food is to die for!

  14. Frank baggio says:

    It is Italian in name, niether of the owners are Italian nor have they ever been to Italy. Seems to be a bit of a sham if you ask me.

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