By Cicely M. Eastman
Before getting seated at Terrazza Ristorante at the Country Club of Greenfield, you will see award plaques received by owner and manager Abaz Cecunjanin proudly hung on the wall. It gives a warm, fuzzy feeling knowing you are in for an exceptional meal.
Cecunjanin opened Terrazza Ristorante on April 1, 2013, a little over a year after it was rebuilt following the fire that destroyed the original clubhouse. Although a bit of history was lost, the new dining room is clean and airy with plenty of windows overlooking the green golf course surrounded by forested hills. When weather permits, guests can sit out on the deck to take in some fresh air with the view. The modern kitchen is equipped with all new appliances that are easier to maintain, and the building is eco-friendly and energy efficient.
Cecunjanin, who owned the Bella Notte restaurant in Bernardston for 12 years, was thinking he would get out of the restaurant business when the economy went sour in 2008. But fate stepped in and this opportunity came along.
“I’m a restaurateur. It’s in my blood. I love what I do, I love working with people.”
But it was a big step for Cecunjanin, who had to adjust to a lunch and dinner schedule rather than the night-life schedule he was used to. He noted that the ambiance is similar to that of Bella Notte, minus the DJ. It is a very family- and friend-oriented establishment, where everyone knows everyone. Club members and the general public alike dine there regularly, and everyone feels like they are at home.
“What I like is it is on the edge between fine dining and a family restaurant. I am proud that we do that,” Cecunjanin said.
Cecunjanin, originally from Montenegro in the former Yugoslavia, arrived in America with his family when he was 17 years old. His father had a diploma in serving — a requirement to become employed as a waiter in socialist Yugoslavia — so it was only natural that the family gravitated toward the restaurant business. Cecunjanin has a lot of family around the country that own restaurants, offering support and advice when needed. He opened the Bella Notte when he was merely 19 years old.
Terrazza is also a family affair. The chefs are cousin Denny Kadic and brothers Ermin and Erdin Cecunjanin, who prepare a menu that is predominantly Italian.
There are many similarities between Southeastern European and Italian cuisine. Montenegro, like Italy, specializes in seafood, sharing a coastline on the Adriatic Sea.
Cecunjanin’s family harbors many family secret recipes. Cecunjanin said they don’t need to measure to make marsala and vodka sauce, for example, since they know the recipes so well. It is an art.
If you are concerned about needing to eat a full meal to sit in the dining room, relax. There are many options to choose from off of the pub menu and the main menu, with a wide variety of entrees. Patrons are welcome to come in and just have an appetizer, take advantage of specials or feast on a four-course meal.
While there are many great dishes on the menu, Cecunjanin’s personal favorites are Francaise — medallions of veal, dipped in an egg batter, in a lemon butter white wine sauce, served over linguine pasta — and the Filet Mignon Savoy — 9 oz. of Angus beef topped with fontina cheese and asparagus in a Dijon cream sauce and served with a baked potato.
He also recommends the fried calamari appetizer. Served with a side of homemade marinara topped with red pepper flakes, the dish features crisp breading and high quality octopus. The house dessert is, of course, the house favorite: tiramisu. Other options include Italian gelato and an outstanding lemon cake.
“You don’t have to travel abroad to taste international foods, we have it here,” Cecunjanin said.
“I am blessed to have a great staff,” he continued. Many restaurants struggle with finding skillful employees that have a good work ethic. Not Terrazza. He never has trouble finding good employees, maintaining a staff of 20 to 30 who hear about an open position by word of mouth.
There are banquet facilities for up to160 people, accommodating functions from baby showers to bah mitzvahs to weddings.
While you don’t have to be a member to dine there, there is an added incentive to join. Members may purchase a gift card to receive 20 percent off their food bill. Purchase a card for $480 and get $600 worth of food. Also, there are no room fees for the banquet facilities with the card — that might be something to think about if you have a wedding coming up.
This New Year’s Eve there will be big doings too. The band After Glow will entertain with country, classic rock, pop and more.
Cecunjanin said they are blessed to have customers that are positive. As long as they are happy it makes him happy. When customers come to him and say, “I come here all the time. Every time the food is amazing,” he replies, “It’s not just the food. It’s great customers!”
There are plans in the works for a pizza and banquet facility in town for more casual get-togethers. Keep an eye out for that.
If you go
244 Country Club Road, Greenfield, Mass.
Hours: lunch, 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.; dinner, 4 to 9 p.m.
View menu: terrazzagreenfield.com
For more information or to make reservations, call 413-772-0970.