By ELIZABETH KEYSER, Special to The Courant
The Hartford Courant
December 26, 2013
When Tarry Lodge Enoteca Pizzeria opened in Westport, crowds, propelled by the star value of the name Mario Batali, flocked to the Italian restaurant. Two years in, no one expects to see Mario, but Tarry Lodge has become a favorite pizza, pasta and salad joint in Saugatuck. A block from the Westport train station and right off exit 19 on I-95, it's also got a prime location.
At night, it's fun to sit at the high-top white Carrera marble bar overlooking the pizza station and the wood burning oven. The pizzaiolo are young, but their hands move with assurance, turning a disk of dough into a super-thin round with a raised edge. They lay on toppings with practiced precision. They slide the pizza onto a metal peel, stick it into the glowing oven, and with a jerk of the handle, slide the pizza onto the hot stone. There's a certain swagger to it.
The capricciosa pizza, with ham, mushrooms, artichokes and olives is placed on a pizza stand. I reach for a piece. The center crust is floppy, a disappointment. The cheese and toppings slide off, and I push them back on and go at the slice with knife and fork. The melted pools of mozzarella are soft and milky. Whole fresh basil leaves release their fragrance. Mushrooms, raw, shaved slices, are a mere whisper. Nicoise olives add piquancy. Beneath the toppings, rests a substantial layer of ham. From the crust to the toppings, this pizza is full of flavor.
The pizza Margherita arrives just the way I like: with the crust blackened and blistered. The center does not flop. The ingredients stay on, and it's a light, enjoyable, fresh-tasting pizza.
Next to us, a father and daughter chat with the pizzaiolo. They're regulars. The 10-year-old daughter expertly uses a spoon to breaks into the egg yolks on the pizza, guanciale (cured pork cheek) with black truffles ($18). They also share a dense tangle of pasta Bolognese. They order tiramisu to go.
We try the spaghetti carbonara, the bacon and eggs of a pasta dish. The pasta is bound in a bright yellow sauce with plentiful cubes of pancetta. It's hammy and cheesy-rich. The smoky, salty taste gives way to the flavor of butter.
With pasta this rich, you need to eat salad with the meal. We choose the gorgonzola salad, wonderfully dressed in lemon juice and olive oil. But we're overwhelmed by the amount of cranberries and candied walnuts. It goes beyond generosity to a lack of balance. So too with the carbonara; we end up leaving a pile of pancetta on the plate.
At lunch, Tarry Lodge offers a $20 two-course lunch, which you can eat at a sunny table by the window. The salads are substantial; lunch in themselves. The tri-colore is dressed in white bean vinaigrette, which gives it substance. The salumi salad is antipasto: cheese, olives, red peppers, and cold cuts, tossed in oil and vinegar. For an additional $5, Tarry Lodge offers a "taste" of wine, a half-glass that's just right.
The Details: 30 Charles St., Westport. 203-571-1038, www.tarrylodge.com
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