Greenwich, Conn. - Mark Mazzotta is what you would call a family man. Spend a little time with him at his one of his Riverside Italian eatery, Pomodoro, and soon you’ll be swapping stories of Little League games and soccer tournaments over a lovely glass of white Super Tuscan or easy Chianti.
Not to date myself, but Pomodoro definitely warrants a comparison to the Boston bar from the iconic 80s television show, Cheers, a place where, sooner rather than later, almost everyone knows your name. And they're sure to be very glad you came.
This old-school hospitality is certainly one of the reasons Pomodoro is packed to bursting on any given evening, even during a school vacation week. And it is definitely what sets Pomodoro apart from the crowd.
“We’ve tried to create a place that’s the true definition of trattoria,” says Mazzotta. “Cozy space, nuts and bolts Italian fare with some creative specials thrown in. And family-friendly.”
The vibe at Pomodoro trancends family-friendly. It’s a true neighborhood restaurant where people actually talk to each other. Pomodoro buzzes with a vibrant, good-natured energy you simply don’t find very often these days.
As my dinner date and I debated over the extensive dinner options, the gentleman at the table next to ours offered his advice. “Throw a dart at the menu,” he smiled. “You can’t miss.”
For starters, we were treated to an antipasto dish anchored by two enormous hunks of achingly fresh burrata, hollowed mozzarella stuffed with rich cream and more mozzarella drizzled with a Sicilian extra virgin olive oil. The cheese was paired with heirloom tomatoes, ribbons of prosciutto di Parma, fresh, peppery arugula and homemade pesto that packed a nice little punch.
That’s just how the Mazzottas roll.
“We make a lot of stuff in house,” explains Mazzotta. “If we don’t make it here, we get it from the best places. The bread is the filone loaf from Sullivan St. Bakery. And we find some great, really fresh stuff on Arthur Avenue,” he says, speaking of the Italian gastro-mecca in the Bronx.
One of the evening’s specials included pan-seared scallops with pancetta and spinach, a dish that’s far easier to get wrong than it is to get right. “The scallops literally melt in your mouth,” said my date.
Next, we opted for one of the pasta specials—a linguini tossed with more of that homemade “pesto with umph” and sprinkled with fresh goat cheese. It was wonderfully bright and refined in its simplicity—exactly what you would imagine a pesto and pasta dish would taste like at a Genoan family trattoria. In a word, it was authentic.
Like a good Italian host, Mazzotta wasn’t finished feeding us. Veal Sorrentino was now on the table in front of us, veal layered with eggplant, prosciutto and fresh mozzarella, served in a savory Portobello-sherry demi-glace.
As we lingered over our meal and diners began to file out, toting sleepy children, bouquets of birthday flowers and bags upon bags of left-overs, Mazzotta found a moment to take a seat at our booth.
“Sometimes, ‘neighborhood’ can feel like just an idea in lower Fairfield County,” he said as a dish of house-made cannoli appeared in front of us. “But we’ve been here nine years, and the community has really embraced us.”
After the hospitality and the food we enjoyed, it isn’t hard to see why. Share a meal and friendly conversation at Pomodoro, and you’ll feel like part of the family.
Pomodoro is located at 1247 East Putnam Ave. in the Riverside section of Greenwich.