Monday, June 17, 2019

Stamford Restaurant Chronicles: Pellicci's

Growing up Greenbaum, it wasn’t atypical for us to have pasta for dinner at least three times a week. As a kid, I remember eating so much pasta so often that as an adult I really don’t care for it much. For me, the carb laden meal is just a missed opportunity to eat the seafood or beef meal of my dreams. Second to that, it always gets my goat a little that a box of pasta with a dozen servings costs $1.00 at the grocery store, but a meal for one at the restaurant costs nearly $20. Talk about a cash cow for the restaurant.

The above being what it is, there are certain types of Italian restaurants that I can make exceptions for. Growing up, we spent countless nights at Paradise Pizza in Verplanck, NY; an unremarkable looking restaurant that holds some of my dearest memories, as well as the recipe for the world’s best pizza. Having been in Stamford for many years now, I have received the recommendation of Pellicci’s enough times to be led to believe that it had the potential to be something similar.

Pellicci’s has been operating in Stamford since 1947 in a neighborhood that I wouldn’t normally find myself hanging out in after dark, but for its reputation and the hopes of a local diamond in the literal rough, I just had to check it out. The restaurant exterior is nothing to write home about; an older house with the restaurant downstairs. Their parking is valet only, so we risked it and parked on the street.

Walking in, there’s a dining room reminiscent of my Great Grandmother’s house, as well as a room with a dark mahogany bar. To be fair, the room with the bar looked cooler, but when the waitress ushered us into the dining room, which was otherwise filled with people in their 70’s, we didn’t protest. There’s a lot to be said for eating where the elderlies like as they generally have a penchant for good deals and basic, decent meals.

We were seated in the back, by the restrooms in a wooden booth with a comical amount of space between the seats and the table. Let’s just say you could eat countless plates of pasta and somehow still fit into their booths. The waitress was very nice and in her fifties, memorizing our orders without writing them down. The menus were exactly like you’d expect – dated, simple and that of a no frills Italian restaurant operating for 70 years plus.

Settling in on prosecco as my drink of choice, I was as excited as I always am for the bread to arrive. A nice touch is that they offer you both oil and butter depending on your preference to wash down your bread with and it was good stuff. 

Going with the most obvious choice, I ended up deciding on chicken parmesan with salad on the side. For $20, you can have an entrée and a salad OR a vegetable OR pasta but not more than one option. Thinking that this was a bit frugal, I was expecting some superior chicken parm to be sure.

The salad was very good. It was a decent portion size to be sure. To continue my evaluation, I went with their house dressing – something between a vinaigrette and a creamy Italian. The flavor was good, but the consistency was surprisingly watery. There was no amount of dressing that seemed to coat the salad strangely.

At this point I was still optimistic. Nobody goes to an Italian restaurant for salad, so on to the main event. When my chicken parmesan came, I was surprised by the lack of cheese. You can see there are two big cutlets, and one small one. The second big piece was layered under the first, so it was a really missed opportunity to eat more cheese. 

The sauce, which looks abundant in the picture was really inadequate for the entire meal. I would have asked the waitress for more sauce, but she never came back after delivering the meal. The last nail in that coffin was that the chicken came out at room temperature. Usually chicken parm is broiled last minute to heat the cheese, so I was a little put off by when that must have been made. Overall, it was really a disappointing meal in light of my high hopes.

The restaurant space is cool, particularly for its history. Based on the neighborhood and the fact the meal wasn’t inexpensive, I wouldn’t rush back. That said, I am particularly curious about their pizza, so you never know. There must be something that’s been keeping this place open and operating for the past 72 years.

96 Stillwater Ave, Stamford, CT 06902