BRANFORD — Don’t look now, but it seems that Strega, the unassuming restaurant on Main Street, is quietly gaining a global reputation.
Last March, Gambero Rosso, the world’s foremost authority on Italian food, wine and travel, recognized the bistro for its excellence in authentic Italian cuisine. It was the first time it’s bestowed such an award on an Italian restaurant in Connecticut.
Then, last July, came the appearance of gastronomic giant Alfonso Iaccarino traveling to Branford from his three-star Michelin restaurant Don Alfonso 1890 on the Amalfi coast to share the kitchen with Strega’s Marco Giugliano in the first “Dining with the Stars” celebration of Italian cuisine.
A Michelin star, a rare honor, recognizes a restaurant on the basis of the quality and flavor of food served and showing a mastery of culinary techniques.
On Sunday, Feb. 23, owner Danilo Mongillo will host the second edition of “Dining with the Stars,” with Cristoforo Trapani, the executive chef of the one-star Michelin restaurant La Magnolia at Byron Hotel in Tuscany.
Mongillo said the six-course meal will feature six regional dishes and wine pairings.
According to Mongillo, a Benevento native, La Magnolia is known for fusing Tuscan and Campanian cuisine and a simplicity of flavors that marks the imprint of the chef’s childhood in Naples where, as Identita Golose – Eataly Magazine writes, “he learned the taste of fresh produce in his mother’s fruit and vegetable shop.”
The star power doesn’t end there. Also appearing will be Stefano Parrella, former chef at the two-star Michelin restaurant Taverna Estia in Brusciano, who was named “an emerging chef under 30” in the Food Makers of Italy Eat and Drink Award, before taking the reins as executive chef at Osteria La Lanterna in Mugnano del Cardinale in Italy.
Then there’s Lucia Di Mauro of Iasa, a leading company in the production of locally-produced anchovies caught in the Mediterranean, Ionian and Aegean seas, and processed using only olive oil and salt by hand.
And Vincenzo Peretti, director of the Provolone del Monaco Consortium which, its website reads, “safeguards the typicality and peculiar characteristics” of traditional Provolone del Monaco produced in the northern region of Italy.
It’s all of a piece with the mission of Strega, with its focus on seasonal ingredients and its insistence on steering clear of typical American Italian cuisine like chicken parmesan, garlic bread, and pepperoni pizza in favor of what Lucy Tailor’s Lucy Camarda has called “the taste of Benevento.”
“We are about creating dishes you’d discover while traveling through Italy,” said Mongillo.
“Dining with the Stars” furthers that mission.
“We are so excited to offer the true cuisine of Italy to the people of the Greater New Haven area,” Mongillo said. “These guests are at the top of their field and we are so lucky to have them come to Branford.”
Strega Restaurant is located on 576 Main St. in Branford. stregarestaurant.com. 203-208-2744.
For tickets ($150 per person), call 203-208-2744 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Space is limited.