STAMFORD, Conn. - With wooden slats running the length of the restaurant’s wall and ceiling, Claudio Ridolfi wants customers to feel as if they could be walking into a wine barrel when entering Cotto Wine Bar in Stamford.
“We tried to build an original place, an Italian place,” the native of Rome said. He explained that he brought an architect in from Tuscany to design the restaurant. The architect, in addition to creating the barrel look, also designed a special sound system so music can be played without being obtrusive to diners.
Ridolfi, who moved from Italy to the U.S. about 4 years ago, owns and operates the wine bar with his wife, Silvy. The two worked together at their Trattoria Oggi C’e’ in Rome; Ridolfi also owned and operated two other restaurants in Italy.
The couple wanted to bring an authentic Italian wine bar to the Stamford area; Cotto offers more than 200 types of wine from around the world. It also features special Italian tapas and other dishes - which Ridolfi compares to cuisine in Barcelona; but instead of Spanish-style, Cotto offers Italian flair.
While researching the restaurant industry, Ridolfi said he found there were no other restaurants serving dishes quite like Cotto's - some people even advised him not to attempt it, he said.
Comparing some other restaurants that make pizza to an assembly line, Ridolfi said he was adamantly against doing this with Cotto - explaining that he is willing to take extra time preparing dishes, and spending more for ingredients.
Customers are “crazy” for Cotto’s food, said Ridolfi, who added that, if someone tries a dish and doesn't like it, it's free. “Because here, we have the best food; we’re number one,” he said.
Ridolfi's only complaint: not yet having more of a history in the area. He explained that, when he opened his restaurants in Italy, friends and family would help spread the word and let others know about it. But that's a challenge he accepts, Ridolfi said.
Cotto, located at 51 Bank Street, is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner. Reservations can be made online or by calling 203-914-1400.