In the face of a struggling economy, they are throwing caution to the wind. In a business that often favors tradition, they are smashing it. The owners of , set to open during the first week of September, are out to create a dining and shopping experience unlike anything ever seen before in New Canaan.
"We're trying to bring the finer aspects of the European market to New Canaan," said Marc Minella, co-owner and executive chef. "It will be a total culinary experience in a comfortable, friendly environment."
Located near the corner of Elm and Main Street, the venue is a 4,200 square foot wonderland rather than another cookie-cutter restaurant. There will be a butcher shop, cooking demonstrations, espresso and coffee stations, and a pasta area. And that's all before you get to the dining room.
"You can spend a couple of hours in here and not even have dinner," said Minella, who spent the last two years working as a chef in Tuscany, Italy. "Everything's on display. You can watch and observe all aspects of a restaurant. Nothing's closed off. You'll see the guy making the pasta and you can talk to the butcher about any type of cuts."
The butcher is James Dadio, who is also a co-owner. What entertainment the store doesn't provide, he will more than make up for with his personality.
"I'm a character-and-a-half," said Dadio, who has 28 years experience as a butcher. "You have to know who to talk to, how to talk to them, and when to talk to the customers. Everyone's a character and I will make this a great experience for them."
When customers are done talking with the butcher or having a cup of coffee in an area where the sounds of golden oldies will be filling the air, a stone arch helps make the transition to a dining area that is defined by coves, keystones, and flared brick. The cuisine will be northern Italian.
"Our menu structure will be a typical Italian menu structure," said Minella. "Portions are going to be smaller and we recommend you indulge in each course. We want to bring that northern Italian authenticity in a modern atmosphere." An average meal will cost between $31 and $50.
Off the dining area is a classic bar with two, 60-inch flatscreen televisions which will be tuned to sporting events. There will be live music on certain nights making for a festive atmosphere.
"There are so many things to do in here and so many things to look at," Dadio said. "It's going to be great."
Tuscan Osteria and Mercato has yet to officially open, but it is always open. The owners allow the curious to come in to look around and have a guided tour. There is a and it appears that it might last for quite awhile.
"New Canaan deserves a place like this," Minella said.
(Editor's Note: In an earlier version, "Mercato" was spelled incorrectly. Patch apologizes for the error.)