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Entries in Lunch (247)

Sunday
Dec042016

Outrageous BBQ at Mason Dixon Smokehouse in Stamford

World-class BBQ returns to CT with the homecoming of renowned pitmaster Nestor Laracuente, who is overseeing the kitchen at Mason Dixon Smokehouse in Stamford. When I heard that Nestor was teaming up with Mason Dixon, I was ecstatic, the mounds of his perfectly prepared meats that I raved about at Hoodoo Brown were indelible etched in my memory. Would Mason Dixon fill the void that I have felt for months? Bottom line…yes, the food is spectacular.

Laracuente is a soft-spoken lover of meats and Southern rock who spent years perfecting his craft. After leaving CT last year, he returned to Brooklyn where he spent time with his buddy at Beast of Bourbon in Bed-Stuy. His time was spent experimenting with new rubs, new dishes, waiting for the right opportunity for his return to Connecticut. His newest venture, of which he is part-owner, opened a few weeks ago and it is slowly expanding the menu. 

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Wednesday
Nov302016

The Fez, Moroccan in Stamford Gets An Update: Belly Dancing, Live Music and Great Fare

Ever since its debut in 2010, The Fez in Stamford made a name for itself as an eclectic hotspot.  Around the corner from Napa and Company and across the street from Barcelona Wine Bar, the Fez offered an alternative experience: nightclub vibes, live music, crimson walls, esoteric wines by the glass, and Spice Route cuisine.  When it closed its doors in the summer of 2015 for renovations, its followers (including me!) didn’t know what to expect.  I recently had the opportunity to visit The Fez 2.0 for myself.  They invited me to participate in a five-course Chilean Wine Dinner, and I eagerly accepted.

It turns out that The Fez 2.0 is largely the same- and I mean that in the best possible way.  New owners Fred and Nancy Laist embraced the original features that defined The Fez in its previous era.  The menu includes many of the same items.  Live music remains at the forefront.  (They are already booked up Thursday-Sunday through March of next year!)  Kristen tends the bar.  The interior, though expanded to include more seating, continues to feels small and intimate.  The stage remains at one end of the restaurant, with a handful of tables and booths in front of it.  Red walls still complement dark wood and varied upholstery.

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Sunday
Nov272016

Pacific Rim Cooking At Miro Kitchen in Fairfield: Menu & Chef Update

Change is at hand at Fairfield's Miro Kitchen after the end of their collaboration with HAPA, but the new menu for this autumn and winter retains Miro's signature flavors. CTbites was recently invited to take a tour of the food style restaurateur Eugene Kabilnitsky and executive chef Howard McCall have dubbed "Pacific Rim," with ingredients influenced by Hawaii, China, Japan, and the Philippines.  

The eating area is a bright space, with white walls and darker seating on the right, and a full length bar running down the left. The bar has a respectable selection of craft beer on tap, in addition to wines selected specifically to match the flavors of the food. Cocktails likewise blend with the food, using ingredients like nigori in the Saketini, and Thai chili in the Thaigarita and the Tom Yum, which tasted like boozy lemon grass tea shot through with spiky kaffir lime.

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Sunday
Nov202016

Soul Tasty Opens in Stamford: Southern Food from the Soul to the Table

Fairfield County offers some of the best food in the country, from trucks to fine dining, and when a restaurant serves food from the soul, it is special, it is uplifting, it makes you overjoyed. Every now and then I visit a new place that fits all these categories. Stephanie Webster, my CTbites partner, and I were looking for a new place for a lunch meeting and we chose Soul Tasty...we wanted to see what the buzz was about. It is located on Main Street in Stamford at the end of a dead end that doubles as the entrance to a pedestrian bridge and parking is incredibly difficult, have patience, it is worth it.

Soul Tasty is the brain-child and dream of Chef Jean Gabriel, Jr. When you walk in, you can feel the love. The walls are brightly painted, a little graffiti on the rear counter pronouncing FEED YOUR SOUL and a colorful menu above the hot trays holding the products of the chef’s homage to the Southern recipes of his grandmother.

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Friday
Nov182016

The Brunch Box Food Truck: Get Your Breakfast & Lunch on In Stamford

The Brunch Box opened several months ago, delivering numerous breakfast and lunch sandwiches at locations around Stamford, with occasional visits to surrounding areas and private parties. Jimmy Marcella, a Stamford native developed the concept of The Brunch Box after a lifetime of preparation; as far back as he could remember he wanted to own a restaurant. As a teen Jimmy worked at a local Italian deli in Westchester, scrubbing dishes, mopping floors, stocking soda, eventually prepping, making chicken cutlets and chopping parsley by the case. He saved his money for his self-education, Omakase at 16, elegant dining at 18. He subsequently worked at the Hudson Hotel in Manhattan, toured with his manager and eventually returned to Stamford; he was now ready to fulfill his dream. Jimmy decided to start with a food truck, where he could experience that personal one-to-one interaction with each customer. He thought that “Brunch” was the differentiator from the other food trucks in the area and The Brunch Box was born.

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Thursday
Nov102016

Winfield Street Italian Deli in Norwalk (sponsored)

I was pleasantly surprised when I saw CTbites’ review of my deli and wanted to express my thanks to them and give their readers an inside view of the deli and my desire to purchase it and transform it into my vision.

In 2015, after years of working late nights at high end spots such as Lambs Club, J House, Barcelona Wine Bar and my own Bistro Seven, I decided I wanted a break from the tiring and often showy restaurant scene. I wanted to serve good food and have a real connection with my patrons, staff, vendors and neighbors, without all the drama in a fine dining restaurant. I wanted something simple where I could be really myself with customers and staff. I heard of Winfield Deli and how a great chef, Pietro Scotti, served amazing sandwiches for over 20 years in this tucked-in spot, and had a blast at it. I wanted that too. I was no fan of delis because they were often dirty with an over-crowded menu, but I thought I could make my own version of a deli and elevate the deli concept to something closer to the Salumerias of Italy. Without pretension, I took over the little spot and gave a small face lift, keeping historic signs and equipment intact.

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Sunday
Nov062016

The Granola Bar: Healthy Eats & Coffee In Greenwich

As more and more souls climb aboard the health(ier) train, the opportunities to eat well while eating out are becoming more frequent and less far between. Thankfully, the days of eating out with kids only to have them relegated to greasy, questionable servings of chicken nuggets, trans-fat laden fries, and white bread-grilled cheese or wondering how to stomach another blah serving of pasta primavera if you are vegetarian are fast departing. Enter, The Granola Bar, aka TGB.

Having established a loyal and vibrant following in Westport over the past 3 years, the duo of Julie Mountain and Dana Noorily decided to branch out to Greenwich just four short months ago. Judging from the speed at which the dining area filled up on the day I visited, the enthusiasm is running at full-speed boogie. From making their own granola a few years ago to now running two thriving restaurants, its been a wild ride but not so wild that they have forgotten where the brakes are located; TGB only serves breakfast and lunch, along with copious amounts of snacks. No dinner. That is precisely so that these two women can make it home to their own families for dinner. Hello, balance. It’s nice to see you again.

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Thursday
Oct272016

The National & Geoffrey Zakarian’s First Year in Greenwich + New Prix Fixe Lunch 

With its new, 3 course prix fixe lunch, The National offers a commodity not always found along “The Ave” in Greenwich: a real bargain.

CTBites was recently invited to sample the new lunch menu, and we’ll fill you in on that delicious deal in a moment. But first, we wondered how the restaurant has evolved since it opened a year ago. So we asked owner and celebrity chef, Geoffrey Zakarian.

"We are never on auto pilot," the restaurateur told us. "And we always listen to the needs and wants of the customers. One change that people are loving is that we put French Fries on the menu. We started with homemade chips, but the fries are a huge hit. Sometimes, it is just those small things that people embrace."

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Wednesday
Oct262016

Eggz Food Truck: Farm Fresh Food on Wheels


Matt Stanczak, the former owner and mastermind behind Danbury's popular Stanziato’s, has just launched the mobile farm fresh kitchen Eggz. Open for business Monday through Saturday at Holbrook Farm, and beginning in November at the Westport Farmers' Market, Eggz will focus on egg sandwiches and other delicious farm fresh offerings with an emphasis on vegetables.

At launch, Eggz has 5 breakfast sandwich on rotation, based on classic offerings with a creative Matt Stanczak twist. The "Crack is Wack" (pictured below) is a combination of soft scrambled eggs, goat cheese, bacon, fig spread, and arugula on toasted brioche. A "Sausage, Egg, and Cheeze" is layers of housemade chicken chorizo, ever easy eggs, Vermont cheddar, and awesome sauce on a toasted brioche. Other playfully named sandwiches such as the "I'll Have What She's Having" and "Bodega Sandwich" feature prosciutto, scrambled or over easy eggs, and layers of Stanzack's fresh homemade ingredients.

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Sunday
Oct232016

CRAVE in Fairfield: Creative American Fare 

While Crave Restaurant in Fairfield may seem off the beaten path, it is conveniently located adjacent to the Fairfield Theatre Company and combines a hip vibe with a menu offering a wide array of options from a simple Mac & Cheese to a robust Chicken Scarpariello. The brainchild of owners Peter Prizio and Alfonso Cammarota, the owners’ concept was simple; create a restaurant and bar where everyone would feel at home and serve a global menu with bold flavors. The restaurant consists of two rooms. To the left is a traditional dining area with tables and high-tops and to the right is a bar, with large HDTVs and a U-shaped bar. Overseeing the kitchen is Executive Chef Rigo Lino; many will remember Chef Lino from the Mansion Clam House in Westport. His menu combines his Salvadoran heritage with the owners’ Italian roots.

CTbites was invited to a media event where, over the course of the evening, I enjoyed many of the chef’s creations.

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