WESTPORT, Conn. – In the newly opened Vespa in Westport, the owners sought to re-create the feel of a classic Italian restaurant but without the pretension diners encounter in some fine-dining establishments.
“We feel there’s this real need for a well thought-out, approachable neighborhood-style restaurant,” said Bobby Werhane, Owner of Experience Hospitality Group, which owns Vespa. Werhane, a Westport resident, said the restaurant was inspired by his travels and the great local cafes and restaurants he found in Europe. The restaurant has been open since December 11.
“We want people to feel as though they’ve been transported to Paris or Rome, right here on Westport's waterfront,” he said. It was also important to create an atmosphere that was warm and welcoming, with a large bar area with high-top seating and a dining area with banquettes, booths and tables that feels both intimate and casual.
The restaurant's pastas are all hand-rolled, the bread is freshly baked, and the meats can be cut to the customer’s specifications. A customer can come in and order a bowl of pasta and a glass of wine, or they can come with a group of friends and family and order several course meals to share.
A typical meal might consist of roasted organic carrots with pistachios and mascarpone or bacon-rolled dates followed by Vespa’s gramigna with ragu balognese, or pan-roasted striped bass with castelvetrano olive and black walnut sunchoke puree.
Dessert options include fried ricotta dough with fudge and sour cherry sauce or chocolate amaretto truffles.
Vespa also boasts an impressive wine list, offering about 150 French and Italian wines, many of which are small-batch varieties. There are also 19 wines served by the glass.
Werhane said a customer doesn't have to know a lot about wine or fine-dining to have a great experience at Vespa. He believes part of the restaurant’s success will be due to the friendly and knowledgeable staff. The menu was created by Chef Craig Wallen and Chef Brian Reilly. The extensive wine list was put together by Manager Lindsay Rosetta.
“To me, the human capital is the most important asset. The staff here is really, really great. They’re hard-working and caring,” Werhane said.
Vespa is located at 2A Post Road, 203-557-9057, www.vespawestport.com/ .
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