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Entries in Hartford (18)


Pho 99: Magic Number for Pho in East Hartford and Wethersfield

My magic number for pho is 99. There are those who say 501 is better. I say, are you sure? Because, though I used to eat there back in the day, now my money's on Pho 99 all the way. Friendly service, clean, and more varieties of spring rolls than anywhere else I know. For me, it’s the pho gold standard. Not to mention, Chef Peter Nguyen is a sweetheart of a guy who takes pride in what they serve in his restaurants. The smiling man with the infectious laugh is the heart, soul, chef and secret recipe holder within the Pho 99 kitchen.

“The soup is a BIIIIIIIIIIIG secret! No one, family even--Mary’s (his business partner’s) husband don’t know! My wife don’t know! My cousins—don’t know! There’s a lot of businesses like us who come ask, what the heck are you doing? Unbelievable! What you put in there? I say, I do the same as you do!” Peter smiles, knowing full well what he does separates him from the pack and is absolutely not the same.


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DiFiore Ravioli Shop: Three Generations of Italian Cooking, In Hartford & Rocky Hill

Most people look forward to taking it easy and traveling in their 60s. But at age 62, Andy and Louise DiFiore had a different retirement plan in mind. They opened DiFiore Ravioli Shop on Franklin Avenue, in Hartford’s Little Italy back in 1982.

Their son Don explains, “My parents were always the home gourmet types. Back in those days, they weren’t called foodies, but they had a lifelong love of food. My dad had been an executive in the office machine world almost his whole life in sales and marketing. And he was probably looking at this more as being a retirement thing for income. Just like a little boutique store. But they stayed with it. My dad would be in the store until he was in his late 80s. And my mom stayed in the store till she was 90. She’s 95 now.”

Then, about five years ago, Don’s father was in a nursing home and his mother was getting too old to run the store any longer. They were going to close it. Then Don’s eldest sister came back home from Chicago to help. “She threw the option at me—do you want to do something with it? Geez, I don’t know.”

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King & I Thai Kitchen in Hartford and Manchester: A Family Affair 

Blink and you can easily miss the little white house as you drive down Park Street in Hartford’s Parkville section. So keep an eye out, because it’s home to a fine family business specializing in Thai and Lao dishes—generous portions, reasonably priced. And if you head east of the river, you’ll find the exact same menu and great food in Manchester.

There are many choices closer to home when it comes to Thai, but when the craving hits, I make tracks for King & I. It’s changed management over time, but the food remains just as delicious as it ever was. In fact, it’s amazingly consistent. How is that even possible?

The secret to their success starts in a tiny kitchen with their cook. Behind the scenes, the same woman has been busy stirring up deliciousness for the past 10 years. When the previous owner sold the restaurant four and a half years ago, Hongkham Munesaleum was already part of the kitchen. But now, with her husband, Lam, washing dishes, and his daughter Lilly, serving the front of the house (literally!), it’s all in the family.

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Giving Back: Fighting Hunger in Connecticut on #GivingTuesday and Beyond

Photo c/o Community Plates

Giving Tuesday has become a global day dedicated to giving back. This year it takes place on Tuesday, December 1, neatly positioned after our national day of thanks and a weekend of retail mayhem.

If you’re planning on giving this holiday season around #GivingTuesday, why not consider supporting Connecticut-based charities that benefit the hungry? These charities are near and dear to our hearts at CTbites because while we celebrate food, we also understand that for too many, food insecurity is a major issue. And in our country, and certainly in Connecticut, that doesn’t feel right.

If you’re planning on giving back this holiday season, and especially on Tuesday, December 1, here are a few hunger-related charities making an impact across the state. We know there are many terrific agencies and non profits not listed below, please share additional organizations that we should highlight by adding them in the comments section:

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SAVOR Event Recap: A Celebration of Wine, Food & Spirits

Savor, billed as a “celebration of Wine, Food, and Spirits,” made its grand debut on April 11 and 12 in Hartford, CT.  Event sponsors gave us a preview in March, and the actual festival was a resounding success.  Savor offered guests a weekend filled with memorable wine, food, and demonstrations.

Vicky Cirilli, event coordinator, promised wines focused on “quality not quantity.”  CT Distributors offered just that, bringing in some of their best bottles for guests to sample.  It seemed that the majority of the wines featured retailed for about $50 and were carefully chosen for the weekend.  As a result, Savor attracted wine savvy guests eager to learn, making the experience especially enjoyable.

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Millwright's Prix Fixe Weekday Menu

James Beard-nominated Millwright's in Simsbury is offering a $30 three course prix-fixe menu every week from Tuesday through Thursday. Their menu changes weekly. If that isn't enough to get you there, they offer $1 oysters on Tuesdays and 1/2 off wine on Sundays throughout the winter.

Millwright's is located at 77 West Street in Simsbury, Connecticut. 860-651-5500 or visit


Millwright's Hosts Share Our Strength Dinner with Hartford's Best Chefs


Some of the best chefs from Hartford County are going to be hosting a dinner to benefit Share our Strength, the nationwide effort to end childhood hunger, on August 12, 2014. The event will be held at Millwright's Restaurant and Tavern and will feature Billy Grant (Grant's and Bricco), Ryan Jones (Mill @2t), Adam Greenberg (Barcelona), Jeff Lizotte (ON20), Scott Miller (Max Oyster), Steve Cavagnaro (Cavey's), Hunter Morton (Max Downtown) and Tyler Anderson (Millwright's). All proceeds benefit Share our Strength. Visit the Share Our Strength Benefit Dinner for more information and ticket sales or email

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The Best Tacos in Connecticut: Ultimate Guide 

There is truly a Mexican restaurant for everyone. There are the quiet ones that scream “authentic! authentic! authentic!” and then there are the more modern ones with the guac that is “hand-slapped” or “slapped to order.” Excuse me? Was it naww-ghty? Mex goes 50 Shades, I see. And if the recent lime shortage (I can’t think of lime-hijackings without giggling, sorry) has you in a tizzy and wondering just how the heck you and your margaritas are going to make it through the summer, just head to these places. Let them figure out the limes, you can figure out how many drinks and how much lime-infused guacamole to have.

Here's our list of the 16 Best Taco Restaurants & Trucks in Connecticut. Feel free to add your favorites to the list below. 

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Ted Turner's "Ted’s Montana Grill" Opens in Hartford May 12th

Ted’s Montana Grill, the classic American grill co-founded by media entrepreneur, environmentalist and philanthropist Ted Turner and award-winning restaurateur George McKerrow Jr., announced that a new restaurant would be opening up on 35 Front Street in downtown Hartford on May 12th. The restaurant will be 4,600 square feet and will seat 160 guests.  This is the second Ted’s Montana Grill in Connecticut; the first location is in The Promenade Shops at Evergreen Walk in South Windsor.

Ted’s Montana Grill serves time-honored favorites in a relaxed setting reminiscent of the 19th century American frontier. The design of the Hartford location is inspired by old western saloons, with all the romance and classic touches that make it feel luxurious, but in a casual, warm way. The décor will feature Mahogany paneling, pressed tin ceilings, brass fixtures and beautiful crown molding.

From traditional comfort food to unique signature dishes, all meals are made from scratch fresh daily - nothing frozen or microwaved. Chefs only use fresh Certified Angus Beef, National Bison Association-certified bison, all-natural chicken and premium seafood. Ted’s Montana Grill also believes in fresh, sustainable, organic and locally grown ingredients.

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10 Questions for Jeffrey Lizotte of Hartford's ON20

Chef Jeffrey Lizotte is the executive chef of Hartford's acclaimed ON20 restaurant and Connecticut’s only nominee for FOOD & WINE’s annual People’s Best New Chef award [you can vote online through March 31 at 5 pm].

A Connecticut native, Lizotte has been executive chef of ON20 since 2012. A graduate of Cornell's School of Hotel Administration, Jeffrey has worked under chefs David Bouley and Eric Ripert, and completed stages in France at the acclaimed La Tupina in Bordeaux, and the two Michelin-starred La Bastide St. Antoine in Grasse, France. In 2009, Lizotte returned to the nutmeg state as Chef de Cuisine at ON20, becoming executive chef in 2012. The same year, he earned a silver medal at the Bocuse D’Or USA and was awarded Valhrona Best Pastry while representing the U.S in the international culinary competition Trophee Passion.

A talented Connecticut chef, CTbites invited Lizotte to participate in our '10 Questions' column to understand what makes him tick as a chef both inside and outside of the kitchen.  

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

Pasta Carbonara – everyone likes a good pasta dish. It is simple and one of my favorites.

What is the last dish you cooked for yourself? 


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