Mangia Tutti!

Photographer: Julie Bidwell

There are many reasons to head to Table 104. First, al fresco on the patio, a warm-weather go-to spot that invites with its wood-slat floor, lots of umbrellas and sails to keep the sun off your face, comfy blue-and-white striped cushions on the benches, and sturdy granite-topped tables. Relaxing and lovely. Indoors, its modern yet still homey, with lots of wood and soft lighting that add to its cozy and welcoming ambiance. Then there is its location on the lower Long Ridge Road, that area of town between downtown and the country. Plenty of parking means easy access; always a plus in Stamford.

But the real reason is the food, which is consistently top notch. Authentic? You bet. It reminded us of dinners we enjoyed in Tuscany, minus the hills.

Everyone begins with a basket of bread. Yes, we know many skip the bread to save calories, but our advice is to dig in. Half of the slices are plain, the other half crusted with wheat berries and seeds, but no matter which you choose, know that this bread is worth a few extra minutes on the treadmill. And the accompanying olive oil is perfection—buttery and rich, with a slight pepper kick at the end.

The best place to begin ordering is from the top of the menu, the section titled “Boards,” all served with sautéed mushrooms, a mustard-fruit relish and grilled crostini. We picked two: a sweet and delicate prosciutto di Parma that proved to be an exquisite complement to the mozzarella di bufala, with its thin outside skin and creamy core.

We always judge a restaurant by its calamari, and Table 104’s was faultless. Not a rubbery bite in the batch, this calamari is tender and sweet. The batter is light, letting the baby calamari’s flavor shine through; the accompanying arrabbiata sauce gave it just the right amount of seasoning. We also ordered the meatballs, three good-sized globes of meat—not a filler in sight—that would be enough to make a lovely light dinner with a salad on the side.

But we were here to eat, so on to the pizza. There are six to choose from, but when one is named Hell, our choice was simple. We wished our crust was a little crispier, although it did have a wonderful flavor, more like a bread than a pizza crust. As for the toppings? Amazing!

The Hell pizza, with a serving of 104 Meatballs

We knew the pizza was living up to its name when the braver soul in our party took his first bite and his eyes started watering. He had hit a long hot pepper on the first bite, and he loved every spicy minute. Hell also features soppressata and tomatoes, and that wonderful buffalo mozzarella making a repeat appearance. We all agreed that “heaven” would have been a better title for this pizza, but we bet Hell gets far more takers.

For the entrées, we tried the rigatoni, served with Cajun chicken, borlotti beans and broccoli; and although everything was cooked exactly as it should be, we thought the chicken needed more spice to live up to its Cajun label. Out of curiosity, we also tried the whole wheat spaghetti because honestly, none of us have ever tasted a whole wheat spaghetti that we didn’t think was gummy.

Whole wheat spaghetti with zucchini, pistachios, and pecorino.

Based on our calamari experience, we thought we would give Table 104 another challenge, and this dish made us converts. It was excellent and served al dente with a sweet, rich olive oil sauce, zucchini and our favorite nut, pistachios. We need that recipe!

The Montauk fried calamari with arrabbiata

The grilled hanger steak was impeccably done. If not cooked properly, this cut can be tough, but that was not the case here. It is cut on the bias, served with a subtle parsley chimichurri and a warm potato salad with wilted greens. This is truly an impressive, delightful meal.

Grilled hanger steak with parsley chimichurri, warm potato salad and seasonal greens

We usually save room for dessert, but not this day. We were beyond stuffed, and took home lots of goody bags that made a meal the next day.

Guess you will have to head to Table 104 to sample the desserts for yourself. We’ve vowed to leave room for the next visit.

A server prepares for the dinner rush

Quick Bites

1. Social Hour:
Tue.–Fri.
4–6:30 p.m.
half off selected appetizers, pizza, well drinks, beer and house wines

2. Monday Nights:
50 percent off bottles of wine

3. Sunday Brunch:
Bottomless mimosas and mango bellinis, $14


Table 104 Osteria  & Bar
299 Long Ridge Road
203-388-8898
table104stamford.com

Cuisine:
Tuscan

Hours:
Mon.–Thu. 
11:30 a.m.–10 p.m.

Fri.–Sat.
11:30 a.m.–10:30 p.m.

Sun. 
11:30 a.m.–9 p.m