Welcome to Villa Italia Ristorante & Bar!
Hello! I’m Ester.
I was born on a small island where, legend has it, Circe from Homer’s the Odyssey lived and enchanted Odysseus’ men. The island is Ponza, situated off the coast of Italy between Rome and Naples. It was here that I learned to appreciate the freshest, purest ingredients that can make a simple meal amazing! My father brought home fish he’d caught that morning, and my mother gave us fruit and vegetables from her mountainside garden. This was before “organic” was a thing, of course. When I was 15 years old, we moved to Connecticut. Fortunately, once here, my parents continued their “farm to table” way of life, fishing and gardening and cooking up all my favorite flavors from our island. In 1983 my sister, Libera, and her husband, Sal, opened Villa Italia, where they shared the food we all loved with the Stamford community.
In 2005 I teamed up with Libera and Sal, and in 2008 my brother, Chef Neil, joined us. By 2014 we outgrew that quaint spot on East Main Street and moved into the beautiful space we are in now. That’s when Libera and Sal retired, and Neil’s wife, Debbie, joined us as a partner. She has a wonderful eye for design, and she and Libera’s son, Mike, were instrumental in decorating the new location and holiday themes.
The man behind the culinary magic is my brother, Neil. He started his culinary career from a very young age when our father was working as a chef at DaVinci’s on Greenwich Avenue. He learned the family cooking techniques there and at our brother, Paul’s place, That Little Italian Restaurant in Greenwich. Neil’s training continued under Master Pastry Chef Jacques Torres at Le Cirque in New York City. For the 20th Anniversary Celebration of Le Cirque, three Master Chefs joined them from France. Neil recalls how fun it was to not only meet them and see how down to Earth they were, but to work along side them was an amazing experience. Learning pastry at the hands of a master reignited Neil’s passion for recreating dishes from our childhood.
Here at Villa Italia, Chef Neil combines the refinement of classic French technique with flavors of the Mediterranean. He is inspired by recreating simple dishes like our mom made. “I love to maintain the authenticity and integrity of Italian dishes, allowing the essence and tradition to shine through while putting my own accent on it.”
We strive to inspire a feeling of warmth, belonging, and love in all who come to dine here. We love sharing stories and laughter with our guests. Here at Villa Italia, we are about authenticity, love, family and friends, of course, great food!