NEWTOWN, Conn. — The owner of Sal e Pepe Contemporary Italian Bistro believes that Newtown is a great destination for fine dining — and he aims to keep it there.
“I think we are a special restaurant — we have a lot of repeat guests," said Angelo Marini, who owns the restaurant with his wife, Renia. He describes the food as “polished casual, northwestern Italian."
Marini boasts that all the pasta is made in-house at the 11-year-old restaurant.
“We don’t use a lot of dried pasta. The vast majority of our pasta is linguine, fettuccine, capellini and lasagna noodles," he said.
According to Marini, the key to the best flavor is in using the right blend of seasonings and not overpowering or oversalting dishes.
He said he loves the business. “Feeding people is a wonderful thing, they come and they leave happy.”
His best-selling dish is the short-rib ravioli — a homemade pasta stuffed with braised short ribs and a blend of cheeses that's served in a sherry creme sauce with roasted peppers and mushrooms.
The lasagne bologna is also special — he uses his mother’s recipe. “It’s a homemade pasta. We use a traditional beef bolognese meat sauce, a bechamel meat sauce and a blend of three cheeses," he said.
The restaurant is also a “true family business," Marini said. "My wife and I and both of my sons work here, as well as my nephews."
He has worked in the restaurant business for 32 years and previously owned the former Monica’s Restaurant in Stamford, which he operated with his sister and parents from 1985 to 1995.
Marini said his mother, Augusta, who was born outside of Milan, taught him to cook. He said he came to the United States when he was 3.
"My father was an engineer and we lived around the world, including Holland, Belgium and Texas, while I was growing up. We entertained a lot of clients," he said.
“We cooked a lot at home. My sister and I helped out and cleaned up after dinner," Marini said.
The restaurant is listed several times in Connecticut Magazine’s Best Restaurants in Connecticut 2016: Readers' Choice Awards.
The restaurant received awards in the following categories, which appeared in the January issue:
- Overall: Runner-Up
- Italian: Winner
- Lunch: Runner-Up
- Desserts: Runner-Up
“It’s a great honor. I hope to win every year,” Marini said. "I don’t take it for granted. As a business owner, you don’t get many pats on the back."
For more information on Sal e Pepe Contemporary Italian Bistro, located in the South Main Street Marketplace at 97 S. Main St., click here for the website, here for the Facebook page or call 203-426-0805.