An insider's view of the Connecticut dining scene
Mar 26, 2014
02:02 PMThe Connecticut Table
From Rome to New Haven With Love: Classic Italian Gems at Adriana’s
Mara Lavitt/New Haven Register
Pasta tricolore: homemade papardelle with a light tomato sauce, fresh ricotta and homemade pesto.
Can you hear those sentimental strings of a mandolin in your head? A little Nino Rota soundtrack as you look around for a local spot to eat? If you are looking for your movie version of an Italian restaurant, you’ll find it at Adriana’s Restaurant & Wine Bar on Grand Avenue. With quintessential Mediterranean decor, nattily dressed waiters, and classic Italian dishes, you don’t have to go to Little Italy in Manhattan, you’ve got it right here. Valentino Stakaj and Federico Agraia – co-owners, chefs and first cousins – bought the restaurant in 2005 and have turned it into a lunch and dinner destination.
The cousins learned cooking together in Rome. When Stakaj was 17 and Agraia was 14 they went to the Tor Vergata university culinary school. After their training they worked in several restaurants in Rome from 1989-2002. America beckoned and they came to try their luck in the restaurants of New York and New Jersey. …(Above, seafood salad: calamari, mussels, shrimp, clams, cuttlefish, onion, celery, tomatoes, and lemon.)
When you go to Adriana’s for lunch, expect a dinner-sized portion at a lunch-sized price. It’s a great way to get introduced to the restaurant. One more plus is the secure parking lot right next to the restaurant’s front door. (Left, the Parmesan cheese wheel: a hollowed out wheel of parmesan used as a serving dish for spaghetti ala carbonara, pancetta, onions, and eggs.)