Our town’s restaurant scene may have lost a mainstay when Luca shut its doors last month, but in its place, Wilton is gaining a restaurateur with a successful track record who’ll be opening a new spot sure to generate buzz. Emi and Hakan Basaran are looking forward to opening the doors of Cielo around the first week of August.
Emi grew up in New Canaan, and knew Wilton as more of a “country town” from her time playing soccer against Wilton teams when she was a teen. She and Hakan met when he was overseeing Nello, an ultra-popular Madison Ave. Italian eatery. His NYC restaurant resumé also includes re-opening the Oak Bar at the Plaza and the restaurant at The Pierre. In 2009, they opened Carpé Diem in the city, a well-reviewed Upper East Side fave that the couple relocated to New Canaan when they moved there a few years ago, scoring a ‘GOOD’ rating from The New York Times in 2013. They continued their streak with a second New Canaan spot, Picador, this time earning a “Very GOOD” NYT rave.
“We loved being there, but then they sold the Carpe Diem building for what’s going to become the new New Canaan post office,” Emi laments. Since the Basarans had also previously sold Picador, and suddenly found themselves with no restaurant, it made the idea of taking over Luca’s closed Old Ridgefield Rd. spot ideal.
“We wanted to stay local, and we liked the small town. New Canaan is a different town than it was when I grew up—there’s something like 34 restaurants and food establishments. They start to cancel each other out. Wilton is a great small town, and we like the local, community feel,” Emi says, adding that the family (Henry is almost 3 and Isabella is 10 months) is even eyeing a move to Wilton from New Canaan.
Hakan told the NYT that even though he’s from Turkey he’s had a “lifelong love-affair with Italian food,” and now says that’s what he’ll be bringing to Cielo.
“This will be similar to Carpé Diem, although the menu might be a bit smaller. It’s northern Italian—salads, some tartares, fish–our big specialty is the sea salt Branzino, which is delicious—all homemade pasta. It’s Mediterranean inspired—come in for lunch, drink some rosé, we love that lunching and fun dinners, sit and linger, European feel,” they say, adding that their chef will the same one from the NYC Carpé Diem, Victor Pastuizasa. Just read the reviews he got at CTBites.com and your mouth may start to water.
“He’s really talented, really creative,” Emi says of their chef, adding of her husband, who’ll oversee day-to-day operations, “Hakan wants people to care about their food, and the intimate feeling of it.”
Giving a teasing glimpse of what’s happening behind the brown paper covering the windows, Emi describes what the decor will be. “We’ve made it airier and lighter. Cielo means sky, so it’s white walls, with navy blue accents. We’re waiting on some really beautiful photographs of the sky that are printed on acrylic. It will be really pretty with a modern flair.”
They’re planning on welcoming a lunch crowd as well, and look forward both to residents and business diners. They’ll even accommodate some take out and look forward to catering and private parties too. You might even say, the sky’s the limit.
Cielo, at 142 Old Ridgefield Rd., will open in early August.