Cucina della Ragazza Brings Authentic Italian to the Table

Westport’s Italian deli and wine bar serves up tasty sandwiches and entrées.

Laura Norris took a very straightforward approach to putting together the menu for Cucina della Ragazza, her first foray into the world of restaurants.

“I started with everything I like,” says the former nonprofit manager, who opened Ragazza in December. “With Italian food, it works best if you don’t screw around with it. Italy is a mecca of food in the world, so you might as well keep it authentic.”

Although she set out to open a deli, adding a wine bar led Norris to introduce more traditional entrées. The result of the hybrid concept is a lunch lineup of sammies, subs and panini informed by her trips to Italian delis across the country and a dinner menu based on family recipes, including Ragazza’s signature dish, a single-meatball so big that many patrons have taken to ordering it as an entrée.

Open for lunch and afternoon small plates Monday through Saturday and dinner Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Cucina dell Ragazza boasts a cozy atmosphere encouraged by the 40-seat space’s brick walls, tin ceiling, wood floors and a fireplace that serves as a focal point.

With those 40 seats going quickly for dinner, Norris says she is now emphasizing lunch and looking to the future. The Italian eatery recently held its first monthly wine dinner and also plans to introduce boxed lunches, sidewalk seating and, eventually, cooking classes.

Want a quick lesson? Try whipping up this simple yet scrumptious dish perfect for serving as an appetizer.

Bresaola Rolls

“Bresaola is like prosciutto, but it’s a cured beef,” Norris says. “It’s really easy, and people love it. I would pair it with one of my favorite wines, a light wine, a Dolcetto d’Alba.”

Slice the bresaola (which can be found at several local Italian delis) thin. Toss arugula with lemon oil and shaved Parmesan. Place the mixture on the meat and form rolls, then top with more oil, Parmesan and sea salt.

Eat and repeat.