It may have just opened, but Barolo Wine Bar & Trattoria could be the most popular restaurant in New Canaan.
Ask resident Shawnee Knight. "We had to wait like a half hour to get a table," she said last Thursday night, when crowds kept the place hopping late into the evening.
But she said it was worth it. Owing to the food, atmosphere and social center, this looks to be a place that will be pleasing New Canaan residents for some time to come.
Eric Grant, one of the four owners, whom many people know as a resident and a volunteer town emergency medical technician, is calling the response "just insane.
"We had to turn people away on a Wednesday," he said last week. The 136 Main St. establishment opened two weeks ago. "We're not bragging, but we think we're doing a good job."
At the heart of Barolo is the food and drink that likely could be found in the tiny Italian village for which it's named that is situated between Genoa and Turin. Two of the other owners -- Giuseppe Castelano and Raffaele Gallo, who are the expert chefs in the kitchen -- are from Italy and bring that authenticity to flavor and style.
"Our two partners in the kitchen, one is from Capri and one is from Naples. They're real, live Italians guys. They use their hands when they talk and everything," Grant joked.
The fourth partner, Gary Weinstein, of Greenwich, has a connection to Grant, insofar as he mentored under him at Goldman Sachs on Wall Street 30 years ago. They not only remained close friends, but Weinstein met his wife through Grant.
"I was his trainee," Weinstein said.
Grant and Gallo were the co-owners of Toscana Italian Restaurant in Ridgefield for many years, but sold it in 2009. Other restaurants followed in Manhattan and Cambridge, Mass., aided by Castelano's involvement.
But this latest effort was a long time in coming, and almost never happened.
More than five years ago, Weinstein said, "Eric wanted to put a restaurant here before there was anything in this space."
The landlord of 136 Main St., however, opted for a furniture store instead, which was relatively short-lived. After it closed, the restaurant Tuscan Osteria and Mercato operated for a period before closing last year.
The third time apparently was the charm, as Grant and his partners were able to secure the lease.
The owners are proud of the interior design and decor, including their choice of wine-color motifs, the beauty of an antipasto bar and the overall large, but cozy dining rooms.
"We've tried to keep it clean and simple," Weinstein said.
Grant is quick to credit friends and family with the various design choices.
"We have very creative friends who are artists," he said, "and our wives."
Equal care seems to have been taken with the menu, too, which offers a variety of options, one of which, the carciofi, Weinstein said, is a unique appetizer of baby artichokes and lemon zest that you won't find anywhere else.
"We make everything from scratch," he said. "We make our own bread. We make our own pasta. We make our own desserts.
"About 80 percent of our ingredients are imported from Italy, so we're trying to give an authentic Italian experience," he said.
And it seems to be working.
"People really like the look," Grant said. "They love the bar area."
Even the acoustics, he said, seem to have the perfect tone.
"A little bit of noise is good, but you want to be able to hear the people at your table," he said.
"It was really good," Knight said. "The food was really great. The service was really good. We'll definitely go back."
The restaurant is open from noon to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 5 to 9 p.m. Sunday. For information, visit barolonewcanaan.com or call 203-920-1515.
Jarret Liotta is a freelance writer.