Stamford's Harbor Point is starting to give the appearance of a boomtown. The peninsula, jutting into the flat expanse of the Sound, now seemingly holds more high rise buildings than the city's downtown, and they're steadily filling with residents, retailers, and restaurants. Amidst this ever present change stands one constant: Sign Of The Whale. At 16 months old, and with the little-lamented demise of the beer garden at the current site of Paloma, the Whale stands in the amusing position of being the Point's most venerable institution. In keeping with the theme around them that nothing is quite good enough as it exists, Sign of The Whale has hired a new chef, and launched a new menu.
Entries in Lunch (221)
Many of the best restaurants are unassumingly tucked into the landscape without fanfare or grand decor. Such is Tawa, newly relocated in the Glenbrook section of Stamford, where the simple and modest decor takes a back seat to the food. Admittedly I am no expert on Indian Cuisine but have eaten it enough to formulate my own theories about which restaurants stand out from the crowd. Tawa is such a place.
Chef Kausik Roy describes his restaurant as one that that embraces tradition but appeals to a variety of tastes. His cooking is modern, yet classically timeless. "Tawa is a very different type of Indian restaurant, one that draws on a deep respect of food tradition and a love for breaking food rules that emerged in me when I was very young.”
The official opening of Nom-Eez, Chef Matt Storch’s new Vietnamese street food storefront, in the Blackrock section of Bridgeport occurs today. As reported by CTbites, joining Storch for this new project are his partners from Match, Jason Wojnarowski (owner of the epically delicious Donut Crazy), and Susan McConnell. CTbites was invited to a sneak peek preview to sample some of the menu and a few donuts.
The menu is divided into three sections, “snacks,” “noodles” and “a bit larger.” The space is small in size, with only eight brightly colored red stools, and the flavors are equally bold and bright and engulf you in the traditional cuisine of Vietnam.
Occupying the old Riverside post office, Ada’s Variety Store was a local favorite. For many generations Ada was lovingly referred to as the old lady who sold penny candy to neighborhood kids; she was a pillar of the community. She has since passed away, but her legacy lives on. Her family remains involved with the little store’s brand new future, keeping her memory alive for many more generations to come.
The shop, now called Ada’s Kitchen + Coffee, is located near the Riverside train station and has been newly renovated by Ada’s nieces and nephews. With the help of friend and local interior designer, Katie Watson, the new Ada’s Kitchen + Coffee has been transformed into a bright, inviting space, melding the old with the new.
The second Connecticut location for Bareburger, in Harbor Point, is due to open on December 21st, as the micro-chain-gone-global expands its Connecticut offerings.
Bareburger started in 2009…after receiving rave reviews preparing hamburgers in the kitchen of Sputnik, an underground music haunt in Brooklyn, Euripides Pelekanos founded Bareburger in an Astoria, Queens’ storefront. After bringing his winning formula to thirteen additional NYC locations, Bareburger launched its first location in Ridgefield in 2013 and is now ready to launch its second, Stamford, location.
In an exclusive interview with CTbites, Pelekanos explained his philosophy and vision as Bareburger first expanded from its single Astoria location into a global chain. “I want all of my products to be organic or as close to organic as possible. From the meat to the toppings to the salads, I want natural or organic; that is my personal preference; that is what I eat.”
Chef Luke Venner has been at the helm of elm Restaurant for several months and was invited to participate at the Greenwich Wine and Food Festival as one of the Innovative Chefs. The two small bites that he prepared at the festival were delicious. In hopes that these were reflective of his newly revised menu, CTbites returned to the restaurant to sample other dishes on his recently introduced Autumn menu. The appetizers and entrées that we enjoyed highlighted the inherent flavors of the ingredients utilizing Chef Luke’s balanced vision and delicate touch.
We shared three dishes from the “smaller” section of the menu.
A chun-bing (spring-pancake), is traditionally eaten to celebrate the arrival of spring in chinese culture. Its origins as a humble culinary tradition are tied to the Qin dynasty (265 - 240 ad), when chun-bing was prepared with fresh spring ingredients to signal the spring harvest and a return to the land. It’s become a year-round staple in northern China where you can find it in street carts, restaurants, and on sunday dinner tables. And now on 21 Broadway in New Haven at Junzi Kitchen which opened this week.
Junzi co-founders Ming Bai, Wanting Zhang, and Yong Zhao grew up in a transitional time in northeast China when the population was experiencing many modernizations. Instead of growing food on their own, supermarkets became a predominant food source for families out of convenience, but it was clear that something special was being lost in the process.
Nostalgia for the spring flavors of home led the fellow Yale grad students to launch Junzi Kitchen. "I wanted to show people that Chinese food can be simple, healthy, and satisfying, something you can eat every day," said co-founder Yong Zhao. The result is an experience that challenges the way you think about Chinese food.
Grazie a Dio. The long wait (and drive to Westchester) is over. Fortina is ready to rock in Stamford’s Harbor Point. Luigi Bianco Pizza, welcome to Connecticut!
Expecting to begin serving any day (as soon as they get their Certificate of Occupancy), partners John Nealon, Christian Petroni, and Rob Krauss invited CTBites to stop by for a sneak peek before the official opening.
Actually that debut won’t be so formal. Nothing soft. No Friends and Family. Not even a ribbon cutting. Just a sigh of relief. “When we open the doors, we’re open,” Nealon told us.
That’s because everything is set, the menu (almost identical to Armonk), the staff (many from Rye Brook and Armonk), the kitchen (the same wood fired ovens from Naples and charcoal grill from Spain) the playlist (specialized for Stamford’s millennials and empty nesters), and yes, hundreds of those familiar San Marzano cans just waiting to boost their pizza trays with a luscious Luigi Bianco. The whimsy is waiting.
Fans of Mecha Noodle Bar in Fairfield, residents of Norwalk, and noodle lovers everywhere will rejoice in the news that Mecha will be opening a second location right in SoNo’s downtown Washington Street. “We believe in the resurgence of SoNo, that this type of cuisine is a good fit for this urban area,” says Pham. SoNo residents can already be seen peering curiously into the spot that once housed Joe Bruno’s renown Pasta Nostra, now boasting windows lined with garden variety Ramen packets…a sign of things to come.
Mecha owner and chef, Tony Pham, will be joined by longtime friend and owner of Mézon, Richard Reyes. The team grew up together in Bethel with extended families who loved to gather around food, specifically Pho and Hot Pot, courtesy of the Phams. Sharing food with people they love is part of their collective DNA, and Pho is a “Universal comfort food,” says Pham.
For those not already familiar with the menu at Mecha, we’re talking ramen, pho, steamed baos and a well curated selection of Asian plates. Slurping is encouraged, as clearly stated on the menu.
Vespa Restaurant recently introduced its new culinary team, Executive Chef David White and Pastry Chef Susanne Berne to create a vibrant menu to complement the relaxing décor and wonderful water view. The duo will collaborate in creating a menu for the full dining experience, from the first bite of Antipasti to the last bite of Dolci. In addition, the restaurant recently unveiled its lunch service, a new dessert menu and the commencement of “Apertivo Hour” from 4-6PM, offering half price beer, wine, $8 select cocktails and a small plates menu.
Chef David joins Vespa from The Inn at Pound Ridge, where he was the Chef de Cuisine. Prior to working with Chef Jean-Georges, he sharpened his skills in Europe before returning to the US to further refine his talents with award-winning Andrew Masciangelo at Savona. Chef Berne’s passion for the culinary arts was sparked by a pastry course in college before receiving her Grande Diploma in Pastry Arts in 1999. She subsequently won back-to-back ACF Florida Pastry Challenges in 2003 & 2005.
CTbites recently visited Vespa to sample a variety of the new culinary team’s Italian-inspired creations.