In mid-September, the Forchetti family of Orange came one step closer to seeing a dream come true. They opened Orso Trattoria, a Tuscan farmhouse restaurant that features authentic Italian food of northern and southern Italy on the Boston Post Road in Orange. “Our vision was to have a restaurant that is family-style, a place that people can come to for big portions and great food, without spending a fortune,” said Peter Forchetti, who co-owns the business with his wife Jackie. The owners were looking to offer a genuine and authentic Italian experience to customers in a warm and relaxed atmosphere.
The menu features traditional appetizers such as fried calamari, antipasto and eggplant rollatini and also specialty items such as grilled octopus over a puree of cannellini beans and red onion compote. A variety of soups and salads—including a grilled pear salad that is popular among diners—are also available.
The dinner menu also features traditional meals and specialty choices such as Zuppa Di Pesce, Chicken and Veal Parmigiana, steaks, pork chops, and Osso Buco di Vitello over Polenta. Brick oven pizza is also available, along with gluten free pizzas and pasta. “What do I like? The Fettucine Bolognese is my favorite. Also the lasagna and the shrimp Francese is another of my favorites,” Peter Forchetti said.
The kitchen is run by Carlo Apolloni, an executive chef from Sicily who has worked in restaurants in Italy and New York City where he was chef at Osteria del Circo. It was his impressive knowledge of regional Italian cuisine and creative sensibility that convinced the Forchettis that he would be a great fit at Orso Trattoria. “I enjoy working in Orange – it’s different from New York where people don’t go out until 10 or 11 at night,” he jokes.
The restaurant features a bar with seating on three sides where local residents have been meeting for Friday happy hour, or to watch the NFL games. The bar area also features a communal style table, which the owners see as a great spot for larger groups to socialize. Such settings are common in trattorias in Italy.
The 8,000 square foot restaurant has a private room available for holiday parties and other events, and for a more intimate experience, private dining is available in the wine room. While the main restaurant is on the quieter side, the bar area features weekly events such as a Thursday Ladies Night menu with a choice of entrée and a glass of wine and karaoke for $25. There are happy hour appetizer and drink specials on Friday evenings and a monthly ‘country line dancing’ night. Sunday brunch runs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and features eggs benedict, French toast and other breakfast choices, as well as antipasto, salads, shrimp and clams, a carving station, a pasta station and Mimosas.
Forchetti, who admittedly comes from a hard-working family, grew up doing masonry work with his father and while living in New York, worked in several restaurants. While he’s not at the restaurant, he’s running his real estate development business in Westchester, New York.
“One of the things I like most about Orso is that it’s close to home,” Forchetti said. At any given time any of the family’s five children will be at their parents’ new restaurant, chatting with staff and ‘helping out’. One of their children has autism and the Forchettis have made it a priority to make it known that everyone in the community is welcome at their restaurant. “We want it to be an exciting place to go, or if you want a quiet dinner, you can have that too,” said Peter Forchetti. “What we want is to give Orange an affordable place where people can have fun.”
By Melissa Nicefaro – Orange Town News Correspondent