Last weekend I was home for the Easter holiday and took a trip up to the beautiful West Hartford with the family. After a brief walk on Saturday afternoon around Blue Back Square (a gorgeous area filled with shopping, dining and entertainment), we settled on Rizzuto’s for lunch.
Rizzuto’s had an open-air feel that was filled with the aroma of brick oven pizza. The interior was very modern, with an open kitchen allowing you to see what was going on as chefs furiously prepared meals, and a brick oven roaring away as pizza after pizza came out. As a decorative element, stacked logs were used as a decorative element throughout the restaurant – lining parts of the wall and ceiling.On Saturday afternoon around 12:30 the restaurant was moderately filled and there was a steady stream of people coming in and out over the course of our meal. The bar was also steadily busy, with lots of people opting to sit there instead of at a table.
Rizzuto’s has a very extensive menu consisting of everything from brick oven pizza to sandwiches to fresh pasta to burgers. Off of their lunch menu, I had:
- Rhode Island Calamari Fritti: hot peppers, marinara, roasted garlic aioli
- Rizzuto’s Meatballs Al Forno: pecorino romano and melted fresh mozzarella, marinara sauce
- Chunky Lobster ‘Melt’: with creme fraiche, chives, ubriacone cheese, shaved fennel slaw, brioche bread
Before any of your order arrives, Rizzuto’s is quick to provide you with a bunch of fresh, warm sliced bread with marinara sauce for dipping. That’s right, marinara sauce. No olive oil, no butter, just marinara sauce like it should be. This made me smile as you usually have to wait until after you finish a huge bowl of pasta to mop up the leftover sauce with bread. Rizzuto’s starts the meal off on the right foot.The calamari was very lightly fried with lightly fried jalapenos peppered throughout. These were very salty and with the jalapenos, also slightly spicy. I loved the fact that they were lightly fried as this made them a lot less filling than some calamari you get at other places that has a lot of fried coating.
I was hesitant to order the lobster melt since this is outside the norm of what I’d typically order for lunch, but I was up visiting for the Easter holiday so what the hell, let’s live it up. The lobster melt consisted of two slices of bread, buttered and toasted, filled with large chunks of lobster. I could clearly taste and see the lobster (there was a lot of it!) and the fennel slaw. Overall, the creme fraiche and cheese didn’t add much overall flavor, letting the lobster and slaw guide the taste of the sandwich. It was guiding it in the right direction. The sandwich came with a side of heavily salted fries. These fries were fried perfectly golden yellow and crispy, with a nice crunch in every bite. The salt made them addictive, and I was disappointed when I finished them.
The food at Rizzuto’s came out quickly. It seemed like we had just finished ordering when the appetizers came out, quickly followed by the main course once those were finished. Service was very relaxed and friendly. Our waiter clearly enjoyed what he was doing and this carried over to the service.
For the amount of food and quality, the value at Rizzuto’s is great. Sandwiches were around $15 on the high end and appetizers were around $8-$9.
Rizzuto’s was the perfect place for a relaxing Saturday afternoon lunch. The atmosphere was laid back and relaxed, the service was great and the food was equally as good. While it did seem that a high-dose of salt was a theme throughout everything I ate, the food was delicious and I left the restaurant stuffed. The appetizers and sandwich were above average and I definitely would stop by Rizzuto’s again to check out their dinner menu. If you’re in the West Hartford area, I recommend giving Rizzuto’s a try. You won’t be disappointed.