Restaurant review: Clemente’s

Why didn’t someone tell me about Clemente’s before? Perhaps, no, surely because they’re completely selfish: They don’t want anyone else to discover the extraordinary Italian cuisine served in this intimate, lovely gem of a restaurant that is the brainchild of the very dapper Joe Clemente. (Clemente, formerly an owner of Oronoque Country Club in Stratford, CT, is the cheerful man who will greet you at the door; most probably, he will be sporting one of his signature dashing vests.)

 

The eatery, which holds but 35 to 40 diners, has a darling, gracious ambiance to it: Crisp pink tablecloths adorn each table and fresh flowers, lit candles and soft music add to its inviting appeal. Actress Jane Powell and her husband Dick Moore, as well as movie critic Susan Grainger, are regulars. And no wonder. Clemente and his staff of nine aim to please—and they do.

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Clemente gets up at 6 a.m. each day to pick out the freshest produce and best fish at the market. The evening my husband and I visited, choices included ultra-fresh sole, sashimi-quality tuna and mouth-watering Chilean seabass.

 

For appetizers, try the luscious lobster bisque, or treat yourself to the eggplant dacasa, lightly battered eggplant topped with mozzarella that’s baked and served with a marinara sauce. The dish literally melts in your mouth.

 

Clemente’s prides itself on its veal. We tried veal Milanese, a veal chop lightly breaded in panko crust (Japanese bread crumbs), served with an herbed tomato caper demi-glaze. The presentation was enchanting with mashed potatoes accompanying the dish and a cold salad of mesclun greens and chopped tomatoes in a balsamic dressing atop the veal.

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If you like risotto, try Clemente’s risotto del giorno. We couldn’t resist—and had that day’s risotto, studded with asparagus and mushrooms: It was as good as any we’ve ever had.

For dessert, bananas Foster, flambéed bananas in a Cointreau sauce served over vanilla ice cream, is a winner.  So, too, is the ricotta cheese cake. A demi-cup of espresso ends a perfect evening. But, shhhh—try to keep this find our little secret.

 

CLEMENTE’S 

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256 Post Rd. East, Westport, CT

(203) 222-8955

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