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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. 

 

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Entries in comfort food (108)

Thursday
Feb202014

Rincon Taqueria in Norwalk- A Hidden Gem in Plain Sight 

Rincon Taqueria is the epitome of a hidden gem.

The exterior is fairly non-descript and the interior is one large, open space, but the food is delicious. As you enter there are tables for twenty patrons to the left and behind these tables is a long glass deli case containing large baskets and bowls filled with several varieties of chili peppers. Along the right wall are three six-foot tall refrigerators with bottles of soda, home-canned items and take-away containers, including homemade apple sauce, beef and vegetable soup, cassoulet with duck and pork, duck confit. Taqueria?

The young lady behind the counter asked if I needed assistance. I looked at the wall behind her and saw two large hand-written chalkboard menus with more traditional taqueria fare…Huevas Rancheros, Burritos, Chilaquiles, Tacos, Empanadas, Tamales and a Chicken Quesadilla. I ordered a trio of tacos…a fried fish, a beef and a pork. As it turns out the young lady is one of the owners, Maria Munoz Del Castillo.

As I waited, Maria brought a plate of Frijoles con Arroz. In addition to the slightly spicey rice and black beans, the dish contained a few green beans, corn, scallions, diced red onions and cilantro. It was a very pleasant way to wait for my meal.

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Thursday
Jan302014

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. 

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Sunday
Jan122014

Pantanal Restaurant & Churrascaria: Brazilian in Bridgeport

The smell of grilling meat perfumes the air on Frank Street in Bridgeport. What’s going on here? This drab residential neighborhood is crowded with cars. And what’s that funky-looking vividly green-and-yellow building? The sidewalk’s striped green and yellow too, the colors of the Brazilian flag.  This is Pantanal, a Brazilian buffet and churrascaria. We’re going in.

It’s Thursday at lunchtime and the place is crowded. We grab plates and try to take in all that’s offered at the cold and hot buffet. We’re overwhelmed, and we’re in the way. Everyone else knows what they want. We’re gawking, and we know we could easily overload our plates with the choice of salads, fruits, hearts of palm, collards, white rice, Spanish rice, mac ‘n cheese, black beans, pinto beans, fried sweet plantain, fried chicken, fried fish and stews. Customers are digging in to those stews. The chicken and okra stew looks intriguing, but I need to exert restraint. I need to focus. I chose an orange-colored stew of smoked pork ribs and white beans. Excellent choice, smoky and deeply flavorful.  

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Wednesday
Dec182013

Bareburger Opens In Ridgefield CT w/ Organic, Grass-Fed Burgers

Connecticut's first Bareburger, the micro chain restaurant known for organic ingredients, grass-fed humanely-raised protein, and sustainable practices, opened this week in Ridgefield. CTbites tagged along on a Friends and Family earlier this week with fellow Ridgefielders and had the chance to meet its trio of partners, Bareburger’s chef, and taste a couple of their burgers (elk and wild boar, to be exact).   

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Monday
Dec022013

Little Barn Opens Thursday December 5th in Westport

Scott Beck (Match, The Chelsea) and his partner Kevin McHugh (Spotted Horse, The Chelsea), alongside Chef Jeff Spence (The Chelsea) have announced that their new project, Little Barn at 1050 Post Road in Westport, will open this Thursday, December 5th. They will be open for lunch and dinner, and will accept reservations for lunch only. 

Scott Beck was quoted in a recent pre-opening interview as saying,“We’re building a barn, and putting a pub inside," and so they did.

The building, inside and out, features lots of reclaimed red barn siding, 2 spectacular reclaimed roof vents, and a 2 sided stone fireplace in the main dining space. It will cozy up the inside and also warm up the outside when eating or drinking on the outside stone patio. In the summer the bar and dining room have sliding doors that open onto the patio as well which will give it a nice open air feel.   

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Sunday
Dec012013

Bar Sugo in Norwalk 2.0: Enter Chef Paul Failla

Slightly more than a year ago, restaurant Bar Sugo opened on Wall Street in Norwalk featuring a variety of owner/Chef Pat Pascarella’s fantastic pizzas, meatballs and delectable pastas. Pascarella recently handed the reins of the day-to-day culinary oversight to Chef Paul Failla, and CTbites re-visited to taste Chef Paul’s cuisine and his creative spin to the menu.

Chef Faillia attended the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park before accepting a position at Burger Bar in South Norwalk. His culinary training continued at Dolce in Norwalk, The Atlantic Grill in Manhattan and The Saltwater Grille in Stamford, where he met Pascarella. He subsequently worked with Chef Dan Kardos at The Whelk and was one of the opening chefs with Chef Kardos at NOLA Oyster Bar.

When Pascarella first approached Failla about joining Bar Sugo, he was looking for a successor to continue his vision of “food that Italians eat every day” while allowing the new chef to add his individual flair to the dishes.

 

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Friday
Nov292013

Marcia’s Killer Ole Turkey Burrito Recipe

Thanksgiving is so…yesterday…   It’s Black Friday…time to shop till you drop!  Start your mad dash through those crowded aisles with Marcia Selden’s Killer breakfast burrito so you can load up your shopping cart with big screen tv’s, fluffy $1 scarves, and an array of other necessary items (note the hint of sarcasm). 

While you would never think of running a marathon fueled on Dorito’s and Coke, Black Friday is, to many, a distance race, filled with surprise obstacles around every corner.  Fuel your body with a high protein meal that will help you go the distance, and out run your fellow shoppers.

If the thought of eating a leftover Tom Turkey Sandwich doesn’t float your boat, consider a spicy egg and turkey burrito, which can be eaten with one hand as you careen your cart down the aisles looking to score that awesome deal.  Here’s our recipe for a delicious (and healthy) Ole Turkey Burrito with a spicy kick.  Heck, pack 2, betcha have enough turkey for it!

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Sunday
Nov242013

Mecha Noodle Bar Brings Asian Noodles & Street Food to Fairfield

Post opening tweaks are commonplace during the first few months after a restaurant's opening. With Mecha’s minor changes completed, it now firmly fills the belly rumbling void of Southeast Asian Noodles and street food, popularizing Ramen, Pho and South East Asian comfort food.

Owner Tony Pham, who also owns Pho Vietnam in Danbury, saw an opportunity in Fairfield, to capture the hearts and hungry stomachs of the Fairfield U student bodies by opening a Ramen noodle bar. This small, but cozy, space is an architecturally clean, eye pleasing mix of Modern Asian décor...with a long community table in the center and block style tables around its perimeter. There is some additional seating circling the "bar" with colorful Asian ceramic stools adding some pop and a touch of elegance to this casual space. Pham is committed to keeping his two restaurants a "family affair," and you may be seated, served, or cooked for, by one of his family members! 

When I first visited with Tony in September, Ramen noodles were the main attraction on his menu. Several months later, Mecha’s menu is now representative of Japan’s different regional nuances with the current soup bases including Shoyu, Miso and Chicken.

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Sunday
Nov172013

Cooking with Fire: Fortina in Armonk

Cooking with wood fire has a preternatural, almost primal appeal. You could argue that as cavemen, it was our first foray into comfort food. The intense heat and smoke has the power to transform otherwise unassuming ingredients. The six-month old Fortina in Armonk, begins with this deceptively simple ethos–Italian food, cooked simply, in wood fired ovens–and elevates it with a thoughtful culinary execution and a familiar, if familial, disarming vibe.

There is a complexity to the simplicity,” said Rob Krauss, one of Fortina’s three partners along with John Nealon and Christian Petroni, nailing what makes the restaurant’s cuisine tick. I’m fairly certain Krauss is also referring to the restaurant’s team, an extended family of sorts that works equally hard at the food as they do cultivating the culture at Fortina

More than the sum of its wood-fired parts, Fortina relies on the culinary prowess and Italian heritage of partner and Executive Chef Christian Petroni, formerly of Barcelona Greenwich, as both muse and ringleader. “My background is Italian, I grew up spending summers in Ponza. One of my favorite restaurants is Peasant. As a young cook, Frank de Carlo was an inspiration as a chef. I was intrigued by cooking in wood ovens. There is something about it that is so gratifying. It’s a beautiful thing.” Along with chef de cuisine Jodi Bernhard, formerly of Barcelona, the kitchen has the creative chops responsible for its daily printed menu.

 

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Tuesday
Nov122013

Grilled Cheese Eatery Opens in Fairfield: Grilled Cheese Reinvented

Café Lola, the charming French bistro that recently closed its doors after 5 years, has been reinvented with a classic American spin by owners Ivanina and Henri Donneaux.  What is more comforting than the quintessential grilled cheese sandwich and a cup of homemade tomato soup?  These are just a couple of the delicious items being served fresh daily at the Grilled Cheese Eatery, which is nestled among the shops on Fairfield's Unquowa Road near the Old Community Theater.  “Eating habits have changed,” says Ivanina.  “There is less formality when you go out to eat and we wanted to create a place that was more than a special occasion place,” thus the creation of The Grilled Cheese Eatery.  

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