Italian cuisine

Vento Bistro brings coastal Italian cuisine to New Rochelle

NEW ROCHELLE — Chef Francesco Coli brings the seas of Southern Italy to this Sound Shore town.

Executive Chef/Owner Francesco Coli at Vento Bistro on Huguenot Street in New Rochelle, December 7, 2017.

That is to say, much of the food he serves at the newly opened Vento Bistro at 282 Huguenot St. comes straight from these crystal clear waters.

“I import a lot of the fish myself,” Coli said. “I have direct contact with fisheries abroad”, particularly in southeastern Italy, Greece, Portugal and Spain.

Coli, born in the Italian region of Puglia on the Salentine Peninsula, known as the heel of the geographic “boot”, grew up spearfishing from an early age. His family emigrated to New York in 1980 and his father, Pasquale, opened a restaurant in Westchester.

FARMERS MARKETS: Where they’re open for the winter in the Lower Hudson Valley

NEW ROCHELLE: Pizzeria La Rosa uses a century-old wood-fired oven

HOLIDAYS: Where to find specialty desserts

At 24, he opened La Villetta in Larchmont, then Massa’ Italian Kitchen in Scarsdale and Massa’ Coastal in Mamaroneck. (All three restaurants are now closed.)

He opened Vento — Italian for “wind” (because downtown New Rochelle acts like a wind tunnel, he said) — and a nearby wine store of the same name about eight weeks ago, offering a seasonal menu with fresh fish and meats from around the world. world.

The food

Coli is unafraid of his Italian heritage – from stories about his frequent trips to his native country to the written vernacular of the menu.

“Growing up on water and fishing very early with spearguns, catching sepia, octopus, turbot, sea urchin, brought this cuisine to light,” Coli said. “It’s a kitchen very close to who I am and that’s what I want to highlight to people who walk through the door.

The Branzino at Vento Bistro on Huguenot Street in New Rochelle, December 7, 2017.

Appetizers include the braciolette, two small mounds of braised beef stuffed with prosciutto, scamorza cheese, parsley and tomato for $12; or the bigeye tuna carpaccio topped with an arugula salad with white truffle oil for $16.

The main menu has an assortment of pasta dishes ranging from $16 to $28, while entrees are between $18 and $32. Among them, the delicately braised octopus served with caramelized onions, olives, capers and cannellini beans ($24).

Coli also offers a separate menu for the hand-picked fish or shellfish he has in the kitchen that day, along with a sauce of your choice. A blackboard menu in the restaurant lists nearly 30 different types of fish, including red snapper, branzino, razor clams, and sepia, but its inventory depends on the season.

The Big Eye tuna carpaccio, with arugula, fennel, capers and white truffle oil at Vento Bistro on Huguenot Street in New Rochelle on December 7, 2017.

the atmosphere

Vento Bistro & Wine Shop has taken over the former Sorrell Wine Bar space on the ground floor of Halstead New Rochelle.

An open kitchen allows diners to watch Coli, the executive chef, at work. The restaurant is small and cozy, with wooden floors and tables that can seat 30 people.

The interior of Vento Bistro on Huguenot Street in New Rochelle on December 7, 2017.

If you are going to

When: Open Tuesday to Sunday. Lunch served on weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Dinner from Tuesday to Thursday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.; Sunday 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Half-shell oysters at Vento Bistro on Huguenot Street in New Rochelle on December 7, 2017.

Contact: Call (914) 738-1600 or visit ventobistro.com. Take-out meals are available.

Follow journalist Dan Reiner on Facebook