There’s no mistaking it, everything about Aranci 67, the newest restaurant to open in Wilton Center, is Italian. From the moment you step in, each of the five senses is immersed in vera Italia.
The family at the helm are owners Julia and Antonio Perillo, along with their son, Paolo, who have infused every detail with something from their country of origin. From the Neapolitan cuisine of southern Italy, to the leather chairs made in Italy, the restaurant is reminiscent of Sorrento, where Julia grew up. Orange walls and accents make sense, given that Aranci in Italian means orange. “That’s why there are oranges everywhere,” Paolo says, including the large triptych pictures of orange groves in Sorrento. In fact she lived on a road called Via del Aranci and her address was…you guessed it, number 67.
They’ve been in the restaurant business for basically forever. Julia’s family owned a well-known Bella Italia, an Italian restaurant mainstay in Danbury for 40 years. Antonio has been a chef for more than 20 years, as the head chef at a Westchester Italian restaurant, Le Fontane, and even working for Julia’s father for four years. Two years ago they opened the first version of Arianci 67 in Georgetown, earning a following but needing to really work for it in a hard spot for any restaurant to stake a claim.
That’s why they’re excited to have relocated into a prime location at 142 Old Ridgefield Rd.. Everything happened quickly once they heard it was available.
“It was happenstance. We heard from our customers that [former tenant] Luca had sold, we found out that this location changed hands once again. We were looking out of curiosity, and we took a chance and made a phone call,” Paolo recounts.
“When we met [building owner Lee] Wilson, he remembered and knew my mom from Bella Italia. He wanted me to change the name to that. But there was only one Bella Italia. This is Aranci 67,” Julia says with a defiant little laugh.
They signed the contract at the end of April, and left Georgetown end of May. Two very busy weeks later they were set up and ready for their soft open. They’re now open for lunch and dinner Monday-Friday, and dinner on Saturday (closed Sundays).
The ambiance is very different from the Perillo’s predecessor. Cielo’s stark white walls and hard plastic chairs have been replaced with constant “magic hour” sunset-like light from the newly-painted orange walls and more comfortable surroundings (especially the chairs). A little construction work opened up the bar area and the whole place seems warmer and more vibrant.
But what about the cuisine? Ask Antonio, and he is like many chefs—he prefers to be quiet and let his food do the talking. He says that the main thing is that they’re all about food that’s authentic and fresh, so they’ll source local produce and ingredients whenever possible. He makes all the pasta fresh on premises and with space a commodity, the Perillos are opting for more frequent deliveries and fresher food rather than storing much in the smaller kitchen. “Everything is really almost to the order,” he says.
“It allows us the flexibilities to accommodate for things like food allergies too,” adds Paolo who manages the dining room and social media. (His proud mother rightfully bragged that Paolo also designed the logo and all the motifs by hand.) “The menu is smaller right now after just opening, but we make almost everything here, including desserts and gelato. So it’s usually a smaller menu anyway.”
Some of the offerings on the menu include Pan seared Atlantic salmon in a mustard sauce; Filet of mediterranean Sea Bass and little neck clams sautéed in garlic, oil and fresh tomatoes; Scaloppina di Vitello (Slices of veal) sautéed with wild mushrooms in a white wine brown gravy; fettuccine Bolognese; pork and veal meat sauce, topped with a scoop of ricotta cheese; Melenzane Napoleone; Burrata e Prosciutto; and many other delicious dishes.
“Obviously the focus is on Italian—the food, wines. We’re trying to create something nice for the center of Wilton. Our ideals of what the food should be, everything has to be fresh, so we’re always varying things and listening to our customers,” Paolo says.
The Perillos are also creating something else that’s fresh—a fresh start. Being in Wilton Center, a more regularly travelled location, they’re excited about already seeing more people come in after just one week, for daily lunch as well as dinner. “People pass by here, nobody passed by that one way road in Georgetown,” says Julia.
Of course, one other thing this family of restaurateurs wants everyone to know is that families—and kids—are always welcome. “Of course!” say Mama and Papa Perillo in unison, as their son smiles.