It all began in
1981 in Grandpa Joe Bruno's home town of Ortona. Chef Joe, who was not known then as
Chef Joe, was playing on the beach with his two boys while Susan, his wife, went off to
town to shop for dinner. She came back with some fresh pasta and news about the
great little place where it was made and about how the owner, upon hearing that her
husband was descended from a man from Ortona, wanted to meet him and show him his
shop. When Joe met the man he wanted to buy all his equipment and take it home to
Brooklyn, but the man was not yet ready to retire and sent Joe and Susan to Milano where
they could meet the manufacturer and buy their own equipment.
With the equipment contract wrapped up in Milano, Joe and Susan and
the boys set sail for the New World on the Polish liner S.S Stefan Batory (this was to be
her last voyage as the Russian tanks were even then rolling into Poland and Solidarity was
about to be ground into dust). Joe & Susan's plan was simple: to make and sell
fresh pasta, sauces, sausage and antipasti, just like they made at home for
themselves and their friends. The target was a small storefront in downtown
Manhattan, but Joe, not yet a chef, had door after door closed (if not slammed) in his
face. When Joe finally found South Norwalk's historic restoration district he knew
his search was over. By that time the idea had grown: we might as well have some
lunch tables where we can showcase our wares, Joe reasoned with Susan who wanted nothing
to do with operating a restaurant herself.
In December of 1984 Pasta Nostra opened its doors and Joe's brother
went out onto the streets and basically strong-armed timid folk into coming in for a free
lunch of his brother's food. After that some of them actually returned and paid for
a meal. Among those early lunchers was New Canaan artist Wilma Irvin who knew a
good thing when she ate it. Wilma also knew the N.Y. Times food critic, Patricia
Brooks, and told Joe that she was bringing her in--for the kill, Joe thought! Though
he protested very strenuously to Wilma, she would not be deterred, insisting that Joe's
food was more than worthy in spite of the fact that even Chef Joe, at that time, did not
think of himself as a chef. So Patricia came and saw that it was good, and told her
readers so. In fact, to Joe's eternal glory and joy (he being a designer, and all)
she compared his cooking to the work of Bauhaus architect Mies van der Rohe. Before
we knew what had hit us, our little store had become a bustling business, and to this day
Chef Joe has never experienced a greater compliment than that bestowed by Patricia Brooks
in that glowing first review.
Now, years later,
we still make everything ourselves from ingredients of the highest quality. Unfortunately
for our retail store customers, our products are now made exclusively for the restaurant.
A few years ago we realized that we'd all collapse from exhaustion if we didn't close the
store, as the restaurant had grown so busy that it consumed nearly all of our time and
energy. It was probably the right choice; having focused our attention and efforts on the
restaurant has made it more enjoyable than ever, for us and our customers!
If you haven't
already done so, come in and experience for yourself what it is that has prompted many of
our discriminating customers to proclaim Pasta Nostra to be "the best
restaurant in the world." Be sure to make a reservation first though (we began
accepting reservations in '92), as it is often difficult to "walk in". Also note
our hours, which we have carefully limited in order to maintain our high standards and our
Call us at (203) 854-9700 to reserve a
table. For your convenience, when we're not in our machine will take your
reservation request. Please understand that your reservation will not become
official until we have contacted you and confirmed your reservation.
Parties of six or more are subject to a minimum gratuity of 20%.
Please remember that we reserve tables as a courtesy to our customers. If you need to
cancel your reservation, we ask that you kindly return the favor by providing notice by 3 P.M. that day. We reserve the right to require a credit card deposit for
reservations, subject to forfeiture should you cancel after 3 P.M. or otherwise fail to honor your reservation.