La Piccolina is an American Dream come true

Sometimes the American Dream does come true.

It has for Carlos Flores and his wife, Sandra Parra, owners of La Piccolina Trattoria, an Italian restaurant situated on the Village Green in New Milford.

Since opening their restaurant in May 2009, they have dedicated themselves to realizing what, for many years, has been Chef Flores' dream.

It looks like it's starting to pay off.

"I believe in my husband and his craft," said Mrs. Parra, during a recent interview.

La Piccolina, which features authentic northern Italian cuisine, is named for the couple's 7-year-old daughter Viviana.

Piccolina, the Italian word for little girl, signifies what the restaurant means to them.

"It all makes sense when we look at our little girl," Mrs. Parra said. "Our goal has always been to provide for our daughter, so we took the risk and opened our own restaurant."

Prior to opening the restaurant, Mr. Flores was employed as executive chef for two Greenwich Village restaurants, Piadina and Malatesta.

Mrs. Parra, who runs the business side of the restaurant, recently left her position in marketing and sales in order to devote herself full time to La Piccolina.

For the first fifteen months after opening La Piccolina, Mrs. Parres worked a full day at Boehringer-Ingelheim pharmaceuticals in Ridgefield and then worked in the evenings at La Piccolina.

Mrs. Parra said that it has been a challenge getting used to working in the restaurant business, but her husband's knowledge and expertise has helped her make the transition.

"We work as a team," she said. "We have an appreciation for each other."

While Mr. Flores creates his signature dishes in the kitchen, Mrs. Parra designs the menus and advertisements and maintains the restaurant's website.

Viviana even helps out in the family's restaurant, often ringing customers up at the register.

She is even learning how to make ravioli at her father's side.

Ravioli is just one of the many homemade pasta dishes created by Chef Flores.

The menu includes a variety of offerings such as Tagliatelle e Capesanti (tagliatelle pasta with diced sea scallops, tomatoes and zucchini) and Gnocchi di Patata a Matriciana (potato dumpling with prosciutto, fresh plum tomato and onion finished with pecorino romano).

For seafood lovers, Mr. Flores makes Spaghetti Pescatora Arrabbiata (spaghetti with shrimp, calamari, crab meat, diced tomato, garlic Chardonnay and pepperoncino).

La Piccolina, which seats 40 people, reflects the kind of intimate, relaxed atmosphere found in the trattorias of northern Italy, Mrs. Parra said.

"We try to make it cozy and comfortable and inviting," she explained.

Chef Flores' first experience with northern Italian cuisine was in his mother's kitchen, where he learned many of the recipes he uses at La Piccolina.

A glance at the winter menu reveals eight different antipasti (appetizers) which include dishes like Bruschetta Mixta (toasted garlic bread with marinated sweet tomatoes, arugula, prosciutto, smoked salmon avocado, and eggplant ricotta salata) and Quaglia alla Griglia (grilled quails glazed with balsamic vinegar reduction on a bed of grilled zucchini, crispy Pancetta mixed green salad).

In addition to the plentiful main dishes, there are daily specials and unique desserts like the one Chef Flores has found to be particularly pleasing to patrons.

It is called Mezza Luna Ravioli a La Piccolina -- homemade half-moon ravioli filled with ricotta cheese and pecans, and covered with whipped cream and raspberry sauce.

As for the future, Mrs. Parra said customers can expect to see more exotic offerings among the daily specials at La Piccolina.

La Piccolina is located at 27 Main St. in New Milford. The restaurant is open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sundays from 4 to 8:30 p.m.

Call 860-210-9669 for reservations.

For more information, visit www.lapiccolinatrattoria.com.