WINNER OF THE IRON SOMMELIER AWARD!

"Key Noteworthy Newcomer"
- Zagat 2009/10

"A lovely Italian restaurant with charm and excellent food."
-Zagat

"One word...Excellent! Great food, friendly and priced right!"
- Urbanspoon

"Real good Italian food. Its not your average restaraunt !!"
- Yahoo Local

Sagi's Patio Offers Family Feel - Ridgefield Patch

The downtown eatery, which is almost two years old, has a nifty outdoor space and fresh, flavorful food.

Tuesday night dinner on Sagi's new back patio felt like eating dinner with extended family, if you happen to have a relative that hand-rolls ricotta gnocchi.

The almost two-year-old Catoonah Street mainstay debuted the seven-table nook a couple weeks back with a Chamber of Commerce ribbon cutting. The space features a decorative fountain and trees encircled with white Christmas lights, and owner Bianca DeMasi said she has grander gardening plans for next year.

The familial vibe came when Patch Associate Regional Editor Liz Mitchell and I found ourselves involved in the dinners unfolding at the tables around us.

We listened as a little girl one table over excitedly told DeMasi's daughter, restaurant manager Sabrina Rullo, about her new pierced ears.

We witnessed a Ridgefield woman arrive for her 47th anniversary dinner to find a table garnished with 47 roses, and then watched her face glow as her husband arrived to spontaneous applause. "I think I'll keep him," she told Rullo.

And we watched—and laughed and conspired—as Republican Town Committee Treasurer Bob Hebert stopped by to greet us and ended up staying for a plate of penne, a glass of wine and a theoretical wedding planning session that involved setting his son up with Liz's best friend in D.C. If Hebert's son ends up with a wedding reception catered by DeMasi at Keeler Tavern with his new bride, Katie, you heard it here first.

All this happened even as we managed to challenge Miss Piggy's dictum to "never eat more than you can lift." Rullo continually appeared with generous portions of fresh, flavorful food. (She offered Hebert dinner by asking, "Do you want Mom to cook up something?"

Liz and I started with two appetizers: cockled clams with pancetta and marinara sauce and fried artichoke hearts with curry mayonnaise. I'm not a big shellfish eater, but expert Liz reported that the clams were scrumptious—not too fishy or oily and nicely complemented by the salty pancetta. The artichoke hearts had a hearty taste and gentle batter crunch.

The starter dishes were followed with a fresh Caprese salad and then a plate full of delicious handmade gnocchi. They were filled with ricotta instead of potato, which made the bites lighter but still textured.

The main course was a sizable filet of sole crusted with almonds and drizzled with garlic white wine sauce, which we were unable to finish even before we learned that we needed to save room for tiramisu. I shouldn't have worried; adults forget, but every child knows her stomach has a separate dessert compartment with a unique size-to-volume physics. We found room for the melt-in-your mouth cake and the cappuccinos that chased them, just in case the tiramisu espresso didn't flush enough caffeine into our blood.

By the time we left, three hours after arriving, Hebert's matchmaking made him a half hour late to his post-Sagi's meeting, DeMasi had been presented with two of the anniversary roses, Rullo was high-fiving the young girl and Liz and I were in giggly food stupors.

Just another night out in Ridgefield, really.

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Ridgefield wine experts battle for ‘Iron Sommelier’

Wine aficionados from four Ridgefield restaurants are duking it out in a months-long sommelier slugfest and they want customers to score each round to pick Ridgefield’s first “Iron Sommelier.”

"I've always thought that restaurants should work together," said Sabrina Rullo of Sagi Cucina Italiana, winner of the first round. “Every restaurant has its own individual creativity, and it’s great we’re not competing but working together.”

OK, so maybe the contest isn’t quite as fierce as a prize fight.

It’s about "entertainment, good food and great wine," Ms. Rullo said — and it’s great for business.

Each restaurant hosts a three-course dinner and chooses the menu. Their sommeliers sample the menu three weeks before the dinner and submit their wine selections in the next few days. They take reservations, and on the day of the dinner, guests score how well each wine matches each course.

Sagi, which will host the third of the four dinners, is almost booked with about 15 seats available.

Other contenders include Bernard Bouissou, who won the second round, of Bernard’s, Jean-Luc Le Gall of Le Château, and Jeff Hennig of Toscana Ristorante.

Ms. Rullo grew up in Italy, learning from her father and grandfather how to make wine.

“It’s a very foreign idea to go out and buy wine in Italy and other countries,” she said, so it’s important to know how to make good wine. “You hope it came out well or you’re stuck with it all season — unless your neighbor lets you borrow some.”

Her approach to picking the perfect wine is identifying the strongest characteristic of each course: Is it spicy? Is bland? Is it sweet?

With a less salty main course, she might pair a full-bodied wine, and with a dessert such as tiramisu that’s “not too sweet,” she’d go with a sweet port.

Round three will be Thursday, April 28, at Sagi. The three-course meal is $80 plus tax and tip. The final dinner will be at Bernard’s Thursday, May 26

“I hope we each win at least one round,” Ms. Rullo said.

To be a guest and judge at the next Iron Sommelier contest, call 203-431-0200.

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