I get this tip that the new place to go for the best casual breakfast and lunch food in Stamford is a small spot at 72 Magee Ave., in the “no-man’s zone” south of I-95 and the Metro-North tracks. On the way to Greenwich one morning I decide to investigate Magee's Curbside.
Here’s the bottom line in an anecdote:
After I show up and rattle the staff by asking them to make a few dishes I can sample and photograph—and ask if the owners are around—I’m sitting at a table talking to co-owners Danny DeGruttola (owner of The Brickhouse Bar & Grill on Bedford Street) and Evan Philippopoulos. A woman comes in and declares that she’s back after Magee’s delighted her with the best turkey burger she’s ever had. (The house-recipe burger was a recent special.)
No, the woman wasn’t a ringer; no one knew I was coming and the owners of the small, bright and cheerful place weren’t even supposed to be there—the food just is that terrific.
And so, by the way, is the area.
That “no-man’s zone” reference above comes from a 2010 Stamford Advocate story about rebranding the area from Canal Street to Magee Avenue as SoTo, or South of Town. SoTo signs now adorn streetside utility poles, and while the district may still seem more gritty than welcoming to some, it’s home to a Brooklyn-style urban chic that intermingles commercial and industrial operations with the gems of Stamford’s arts, antiques and design district, and retail shops like Agabhumi, offering “best of Bali” fashions.
The location is also along the gateway to the Shippan area, the Stamford Yacht Club and Shippan Point, placing Magee’s near key Stamford parks and beaches.
But we’re at Magee’s Curbside to talk about food.
Degruttola, who was just 25 when he opened the popular Brickhouse Bar & Grill, was pondering this question last year: “What don’t I do at The Brickhouse that I can expand upon?”
The answer was breakfast, which led to a search for the right place for a new breakfast and lunch spot whose vibe would combine the feeling of a retro Vermont country store and a small town luncheonette. Hence the green-and-white gingham tablecloths, the sunny mural on the outside of the building—and the ethos that even though the focus is casual fare, everything is homemade and starts with top quality ingredients. (All meats are antibiotic free, eggs are cage and antibiotic free, bread is locally baked and pastries are made from scratch.)
Degruttola relates by way of example that his father made hand-cut chips, which he does at Magee’s. There’s “no Ruffles” here; even the breakfast OJ is fresh-squeezed.
The breakfast menu is stacked with temptations like the Cuban Breakfast with slow-smoked pulled pork, scrambled eggs, honey-glazed ham, cheddar cheese and sriracha honey mustard. (All that’s just $8.)
We tried the 7 A.M. Fries—fries with pulled pork, melted cheddar, candied bacon and scallion, topped with an over-easy egg. This dish (also just $8) is pure, hedonistic heaven.
Ditto for the Bacon, Egg and Cheese Empanadas (two per order), which consist of seasoned scrambled eggs, home fries, apple wood smoked bacon and Curbside sriracha.
The Incredible Hulk isn’t a dish we’d normally be drawn to, but wow: Two green waffle sandwiches with scrambled eggs, American cheese, sausage, candied bacon, and Vermont maple syrup ($8).
For a lunch “entrée” I dug into the Cali Turkey sandwich: Seasoned roasted turkey breast, avocado, apple wood smoked bacon, green leaf lettuce, vine ripened tomatoes, roasted red pepper mayo ($10). It was light, bright and super-fresh, with all of those individual flavors both standing out and creating perfect harmony.
If you want to make your mouth water—or put a spark under the urge to hop in the car and head to Stamford, go online and read the menu. And then go on Magee’s Instagram and look at how the menu descriptions are sculpted into gorgeous works of edible art.
Degruttola, who says, “I love food and I love drink,” credits the early success of Magee’s Curbside to an obsessive focus on quality and consistency, along with the hotspot’s sense of fun (some sandwiches are named after local high schools, like The Crusader) and its casual chic vibe.
If return customers think it’s good now, Magee’s is about to get even better. As the weather warms up, the hours will expand to 7 or 8 in the evening and that will bring the advent of a dinner menu.
“We’re thinking beach themes,” Degruttola says, further describing plans to deliver this summer to nearby beaches—which will mean someone in flip-flops delivering crab cakes or a juicy lobster roll right to your blanket.
At the moment, one-third of the business is carryout, a third delivery and the rest sit-down customers. Delivery is “causing us to flourish,” Degruttola says.
And that’s going to make things even more delicious for those who are up for the adventure of discovering Magee’s Curbside. It’s located 72 Magee Ave. The phone number is 203-890-9900 (There’s a $30 minimum for delivery.) The website is mageescurbside.com, and you can also find Magee’s on Facebook.
Magee's Curbside is open 7 days, from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m.