Sign Me Up

Sign Me Up For:


Our Partners



Search CT Bites
Eating Out

Pho Saigon: Real Pho. Really off the beaten path. 

If you like Italian cuisine (I mean real Italian) and you haven't been to Fortina in Armonk yet, something is ALL wrong. 


The Latest Talk

Entries in Chef Talk (124)


NyHaven in New Haven: A New Nordic Pop-Up

NyHaven, a one-time pop-up new Nordic dinner in New Haven on March 3, blew away a couple dozen diners lucky enough to purchase seats to the 15-course dining experience showcasing some of the most daring and inventive food in Connecticut. Conceived by Chef Simon Marcell Davidsen with fellow Community Table chef Tommy Juliano, they teamed up with John Ginnetti of 116 Crown, who not only generously offered the kitchen and dining space for NyHaven, but also paired each snack and course with an appropriate "cocktail."

An indelible evening marked by a provocative menu, curious cocktails, and a house filled with appreciate gourmands, we attempted to capture the meal in not just words, but an interview with Chef Simon Marcel Davidsen, photos of each course, and 116 Crown's video of the NyHaven experience:

Click to read more ...


Da Pietro's Chef Pietro Scotti Talks About 25 Years in Westport

Chef Pietro Scotti…on 25 years in Westport!

On the day after Michel Nischan sadly announced the closing of The Dressing Room, I was sitting in the cozy dining room off the kitchen of Chef Pietro Scotti’s home talking with Pietro and his wife, Janine, about the changes in the restaurant scene and in particular dining in Fairfield County.  

An anchor in Westport for over 25 years, Da Pietro’s Restaurant on Riverside Ave was one of the first “fine dining” establishments in Fairfield County, and immediately become popular as the “go to” place for special occasions and romantic dinners.  Reviewed as “Perfection ” by The New York Times and  “Excellent” by Wine Spectator, the intimate 25 seat restaurant specializes in fresh pastas, creative starters and hearty and seasonal entrees.  

Pietro, known for his big smile, warm personality, and unfailing generosity to local community events and causes, has helmed Da Pietro’s since the beginning and can still be found in the tiny restaurant kitchen every day during both lunch and dinner.   

Click to read more ...


The Spread's Poblano & Corn Chowder with Fresh Crabmeat

Get ready to rumble. Chowdafest is this weekend at the Webster Bank Arena, where 28 chefs will battle it out for "best of," and then Superbowl eating goes into full swing. The Spread in Sono under the direction of Chef Carlos Baez, will be competing for the first year at Chowdafest in the "Creative Chowder" category. Chef Baez may be a rookie to Chowdafest but he certainly is no rookie in the kitchen. 

Check out his very simple and delicious recipe for Poblano & Corn Chowder with Fresh Crabmeat. Make it for your Superbowl party or skip the work and sample some at Chowdafest before the big game. 

Click to read more ...


Le Farm's Signature Dish: Chef Arik Bensimon & Bill Taibe Talk Poutine

Would Bensimom  consider an encore of LePoutine for our readers?  You bet!  He’s putting the dish back on the LeFarm menu for a limited run, January 23 -25.  Not to be missed.  (If bacon ate, it would eat Poutine.)

Foie gras and Poutine are two foods not usually found in the same sentence, much less married in a restaurant dish.   But if you were dining at  LeFarm a couple of years ago,  “LePoutine”  was the crazy delicious rock star in the room – a decadent, playful, steamy mashup of foie gras, fried potatoes, wine,  beef cheeks, kale,  gravy and imagination.  

A Montreal favorite, Poutine is unadulterated cardiac-on-a-plate, usually devoured with great gusto, its grease supposedly the perfect insulation before or and after a hard night of drinking. (It should be duly noted that Le Farm’s version, unlike the French Canadian, didn’t include the traditional cheese curds.  But buttery Foie Gras more than made up for the missing fat calories.)

“It was big, it was indulgent, and people just loved it. So did we,” Bill Taibe, the founder of LeFarm told us, grinning with the memory of his exciting crowd pleaser.  

Click to read more ...


Ny Haven: A Nordic Inspired Pop-up with Chefs Marcell Davidsen & Tommy Juliano at 116 Crown

Photos: Signe Birck


A 13 course Nordic-inspired menu is the inspiration for Ny Haven, a one-time pop-up dining collaboration between chefs Marcell Davidsen and Tommy Juliano, that will take place at 116 Crown on March 3, 2014. Ny Haven is a play on words. In Danish, Ny means New, and Haven means garden. In Copenhagen, Nyhavn is a main gathering point for people to meet at cafés to eat and drink. 

The chefs, best known for their culinary risk-taking and locavore approach at Community Table in Washington, CT, will descend upon the kitchen of 116 Crown in New Haven for a single night for 25 lucky gourmands. 

"We are very excited to showcase our style of new New England cuisine, and Nordic influenced cooking, to New Haven," said Davidsen. "With my Danish background and Tommy's New England approach on desserts."

Click to read more ...


"My Signature Dish," Chef Jodi Bernhard of Fortina in Armonk

"My Signature Dish" is a new CTbites column featuring a rotating cast of chefs, and the dishes that define their cooking style, or simply make them happy to fire up the stove. 

Jodi Bernhard hardly hesitated when choosing her signature dish at Fortina, Christian Petroni’s "casually hip" Italian restaurant in Armonk.  Her eyes gleaming, she said, "It's our Pork Braciole." Braciole, hip? 

If you grew up Italian, you probably hold memories of Braciole near and dear.  This classic rolled, stuffed meat roast, usually serves as centerpiece for those sprawling homemade Italian dinners that lazily linger across Sunday afternoons into evening.  Braciole invokes home.  And family.   Instant Nostalgia.

Ok, so how does a chef modernize a memory?  Autograph a treasured family photo? 

“That is the gist of our approach at Fortina,” Jodi explained. “ We try to not stray too far from ‘mom's’ version, but still make it a restaurant dish with our stamp on it.  We are true to simplicity and flavor.”

The notion of putting  “Mom’s dish” on Fortina’s playful, hip menu was Christian’s, one of the restaurant’s owners.  (Patroni and and Jodi once cooked together at Barcelona in nearby Greenwich.) Though she and Christian work as collaborators, the task of “restaurantizing” this homey meal was largely up to Bernhard.  

Click to read more ...


CTbites Speaks With Lidia Bastianich

Like Oprah or Madonna in pop culture, Lidia is one-name-famous to foodies,  a television star  (Lidia's Italy -- PBS), renowned restaurateur (Felidia, Eataly, Delposto, Becco), a worldwide brand  (Lidia's Sauces and Pasta), bestselling author (Lidia’s Commonsense Guide to Italian Cooking is her latest), mom, grandmother, whew,  one name so many roles. 

So CTBites was delighted that Lidia carved out time from her hectic schedule to chat with us prior to her book signing this Saturday at Stamford's Fairway Market (details below.)

Incidentally, Lidia is no stranger to Connecticut.  Her son Joe and his family live in Greenwich, she tapes her PBS show in Norwalk, and of course the Bastianich clan is associated with Tarry Lodge in both Westport and Port Chester. 

We began the conversation, wondering what Lidia the little girl would think if she could peer into a crystal ball and see the famous Lidia of today.   

“When I was nine years old we had fled from Communist Yugoslavia and my family was in a refugee camp,” she told us, “I think that little girl, her mouth would be open at what I’ve accomplished.”   Then Lidia thought about that youngster for a moment and resolutely stated, “But you know, I always had confidence I was going to amount to something   And food was so very important to me, because we didn’t have much.”

Click to read more ...


Wine Pick: Michael Keenan of Keenery Winery Talks Shop

Michael Keenan spent about half of our time together describing his wines.  He spent the other half apologizing for his colorful language.

“Once in San Diego I participated in an elegant dinner- 10 wines with 10 courses.  I found out later there was a secret contest to see how many times I would drop the f bomb during it,” he admitted with a look of mischief in his eye.

When our giggles subsided, someone asked, “So how many times were there?”

“I don’t know,” he shrugged. “At least 18.”

If a stereotypical winemaker is arty and even a touch pretentious, Keenan proved anything but.  His spirited attitude and knack for lively storytelling won me over immediately.  The story of his wines begins when his father, Robert Keenan, purchased 180 acres of abandoned land in 1974.  The property on Spring Mountain in Napa used to be a well-established vineyard called the Conradi Winery.  Unfortunately, it fell into disrepair during prohibition.  Robert saw hope in it though and hired a contractor to begin the ambitious task of breathing new life into the land.

Click to read more ...


10 Questions with the "Singing" Chef Neil Fuentes

Chef Entertainer Neil Fuentes (a.k.a. "The Singing Chef") was recently featured on the Food Channel giving audiences a tour of one of his favorite New Haven spots. Rubamba. We sat down with Neil to discuss his favorite ingredients, kitchen nightmares, and go-to dishes. 

1. If you had unexpected guests arriving at your home for dinner in one hour, what would you whip up?

One of the most effective recipes I like to make when I am in a rush is my Mustard Chicken, It’s fast, with deep flavors and really quick. I grab whatever I have in the freezer, chicken breast, chicken thighs, a whole chicken or whatever. I place the chicken in in a large soup pot! I put water until it’s covered with water. Put on the stove on high and covered. To that I add a 3/4 cup of good old yellow mustard. 1 tbsp of garlic powder, 1 tsp of worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper to taste. I let the chicken boil covered for 15 minutes. Then I uncover the chicken and keep it on high. The liquid will start reducing creating a super delicious sauce. One the sauce is thick I shut the stove off. At that pout I take the chicken off the pot and place it on a baking sheet with a rack and put it older the broiler in the oven until is nice and brown. I serve this chicken with a simple rice and sweet fried plantains.

2. What is the last dish you cooked for yourself?

Click to read more ...


My Signature Dish: Chef Scott Ostrander from Mama's Boy in SoNo

"My Signature Dish" is a new CTbites column featuring a rotating cast of chefs, and the dishes that define their cooking style, or simply make them happy to fire up the oven. 

We looked forward to learning about what Scott Ostrander had chosen as his signature dish at Mama’s Boy in SoNo, a Connecticut restaurant featuring Southern cooking and cuisine. But he was reluctant to tell us much about it.  “We’re dealing with some major issues,” he confided.  “Trying to dodge disaster.”

Issues. Disasters.  Great.  The stuff of a good story.   We urged him on.  But Chef Ostrander demurred. “I just can’t get into it right now,”  he apologized. 

The next time we met, the chef was all smiles.  Problems solved.   Scott shared the back story, one that reveals how a gifted chef deals with and solves both business and culinary challenges.

His new signature dish at Mama’s Boy is Crisp Pork Shank, an osso bucca-like braised pork shank with a dramatic Southern twist. Traditionally, slowly simmered meat is tender, juicy, and deeply flavored.   But its soft texture is monochromatic.   For his shank, Scott wanted contrapuntal textures.  Soft.   And Crunchy.

Click to read more ...