A Family Affair
Great things to do and places to go in Ridgefield
The D’Andraia family—AJ, Rocco, Alethea, Jen, Mia, and Tess
Photo by Claudia Pacifico Photography
Jen and Rocco D’Andraia were house hunting in 2010. “We were “looking for a tight-knit community similar to where we grew up,” says Jen. The couple, both from Yorktown Heights, New York, found what they were looking for in Ridgefield. Seven years and four children later, they have settled in and are enjoying all that the town has to offer.
Their children, ranging in ages from four to 12, keep the couple quite busy. “Having four kids is like having two. It’s just more complicated,” says Jen. A color-coded weekly calendar helps to keep things organized. The kids have many different interests but thankfully some activities overlap. Oldest daughter Mia, 12, was excited to play hockey as soon as they moved here. She started with Ice Mice at the Winter Garden in town and has continued to move up the ranks. Tess, nine, is a talented gymnast who trains at the Wilton YMCA. Son AJ, six, has been enjoying the Ninja Mania classes at the Gymnastic Spectrum in Danbury. At only four years old, Alethea, mainly tags along to the other kids’ activities but is following in her siblings footsteps by trying out skating.
The oldest three are all involved in Ridgefield Youth Lacrosse. The girls are on a travel team and Rocco, a former goalie who played in college, coaches a learn-to-play clinic for AJ. While the kids have lacrosse practice, Jen often uses the time to hike with Carson, their lab mix that they adopted from ROAR. “People thought we were crazy to adopt a dog with four young kids, but he’s been great,” says Jen, as she tossed a ball for him to chase.
Three of their children have gone to Creative Children’s Korner or CCK, which Jen likes because, “it has been open such a long time and has such a great curriculum.” The preschool is also housed on the same property as the First Congregational Church where they are active members. The children have all participated in the church’s children’s choir. Mia and Tess continued with their singing by taking voice lessons and performing with School of Rock.
When going out to eat as a family of six, it can be hard to find a restaurant that makes everyone happy. “850 Degrees Wood Fired Restaurant is always a crowd pleaser,” says Jen. On the occasional date night without the kids, Jen and Rocco love to escape to Sarah’s Wine Bar. Or for a more casual evening, they go to karaoke night at Tiger’s Den or grab drinks with friends at The Hideaway. On nights that get busy with the kids’ activities, they often take advantage of precooked meals like the meatballs from Parma Deli or chicken cutlets from Ridgefield Prime.
As warmer weather approaches, their interests turn to outdoor activities. While they’ve helped with the community garden that’s part of the curriculum at Barlow Elementary and joined CSA’s in the past, Jen is inspired to plant their own backyard garden this year. “We’re going to stick to vegetables I know the kids will eat,” she says. They are members of Twixt Hill Beach Association, where they can swim and use the community kayaks. They also enjoy barbeques on the beach with neighbors. The kids go to Boys & Girls Club day camp where they take swim lessons.
Although she hesitates to call herself a runner, Jen loves participating in Run Like a Mother. “I did the 5K training Ridgefield Running Company and ran my first Mother’s Day race soon after having one of my children,” she says. She and Rocco also regularly run the Margarita 5K with Southwest Café and thoroughly enjoy the after party! On quiet summer days, Jen and Rocco like to grab iced coffees from Tazza and walk Main Street. Jen loves shopping at Audrey Road for herself and AR Kids for the girls.
The D’Andraia family couldn’t be happier with their choice to settle here in town. Rocco sums up their feelings by saying, “We love everything Ridgefield has to offer. We couldn’t think of a better place to raise our family.”