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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 Lunch (176)

Sunday
Apr132014

Ruuthai’s Kitchen: Real Thai in Bridgeport CT

Word’s out. There’s a new Thai place in Bridgeport worth traveling for. Ruuthai is a little family-run restaurant making authentic Thai dishes. Even better, Ruuthai offers dishes rarely seen in these parts, like mussel pancakes, boat noodles and steamed red curry fish custard. And then there are the desserts. Thai desserts are decidedly weird to Americans. Pork in a dessert? What?! Yes, and it’s good.

Ruuthai has been open almost five months. It’s in a residential neighborhood off North Avenue. The storefront is cheerfully decorated with orange and lime accents, and pink and purple swirly, girly flower stencils. The effect is simple and charming. They’ve added a few more tables recently (they’re getting busier), and they do a lot of take-out, but I believe in eating food when it’s at its best – moments after Def Ruangsikul, head chef, has prepared it.

If you sit down to eat you will probably meet Chef Ruangsikul’s daughter Dif. Dif McGeough is the manager and waitress. She was born in Thailand and raised in the United States, and she’s a knowledgeable and gently humorous guide.

Over the course of several visits, here’s what we’ve tried:

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Sunday
Apr062014

The NEW Versailles Bistro & Patisserie in Greenwich - From the Owners of Méli-Mélo

Almost a year ago, without notice or forewarning, a “For Sale” sign appeared on the window of Versailles Restaurant in Greenwich. At 6:15AM the following morning, Marc Penvenne was driving his usual route down Greenwich Avenue to his restaurant Méli-Mélo when he saw the sign. A few months earlier he started looking at several locations to open a second restaurant and now Versailles was available; he now knew the perfect location. Twenty years earlier, Penvenne was the manager at Versailles and left to open Méli-Mélo with his wife, Evelyne. Now, Marc and Evelyne are the proud owners of both Méli-Mélo and the re-invented Versailles Bistro and Patisserie.

When you enter the reimagined restaurant, the front area is a patisserie, complete with white marble-topped tables, bistro chairs and glass display cases filled with tantalizing pastries. Behind these cases is a coffee bar, serving some of the best café au lait in Greenwich. In the rear, the patisserie opens to a restaurant with bistro style dark wood tables and chairs plus a long leather lined banquette. The walls are adorned with photos of Paris and framed French posters dating from the first half of the 20th century.

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Wednesday
Apr022014

Chef Jon Vaast Joins Sugar & Olives in Norwalk: Now Serving Dinner

There's a new chef in the kitchen at Sugar & Olives in Norwalk. You may recognize the name from his years cooking over at Dressing Room in Westport. It's Chef Jon Vaast, and Jennifer Balin, owner of Sugar & Olives, explains her new hire as "An Organic collaboration between two like minded people." Johnny and Balin have been strong advocates for the local and sustainable food movement, and simply put, want to create a menu with delicious food sourced from within an arms reach of the shop. Every ingredient at Sugar & Olives is seasonal, and comes from a farm near the restaurant. Balin says "whenever possible, she selects ingredients that are also Organic." 

With Chef Vaast at the helm, Sugar & Olives is excited to announce that in addition to their daily weekday service, and one of the best brunches in Fairfield County, they have begun dinner service Thursday through Saturday.

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Saturday
Mar292014

Sono Baking Company Opening Darien Shop on Tokeneke Road

The Sono Baking Company is expanding their bakery mecca and opening up shop in Darien. This Sono institution has just signed a lease for a new shop at 49 Tokeneke Road. The Darien location will feature a cafe serving grab-n go-items as well as a full espresso bar to accompany their wide selection of baked goods, cakes, pastries, cookies and artisan breads. A selection of lunch offerings are also on the agenda, but that is still in the works. Owner John Barricelli says "We hope to be open by the middle of July 2014."  We hope so too. Who doesn't need a good espresso?  

The Darien outpost will be Sono Baking Company's 2nd satellite location beyond the Norwalk mother ship bakery and retail store. 

The Sono Baking Company 49 Tokeneke Road, Darien CT. 

Sono Baking Company and Cafe on Urbanspoon
Wednesday
Mar262014

À Vert French Brasserie in West Hartford: Just Like Paris

Photo courtesy of Julie BidwellFull disclosure: I’m crazy about Paris. For many years, when David and I went to Europe we stopped off to visit his college roommate who lived in an elegant apartment near the Eiffel Tower. The 7th Arrondissement has no shortage of fine restaurants and bistros de luxe, but more often than not we would have an apéritif in the apartment before heading off to a lively brasserie or bistro populaire in the Latin Quarter.

I still love French bistros and keep my eye out for new ones in Connecticut. Some are French in name only, but the minute I entered À Vert, a new brasserie in West Hartford, I was in Paris. The zinc bar, the wine list chalked on the mirror. The pressed-tin ceiling, the white tile and exposed-brick walls—authentic, romantic and real, including the warmth and friendliness that define bistro dining in the City of Light.

It’s all good, but food beautiful food is the overriding reason to dine at À Vert. How could it not be? It’s owned by two chefs who in recent years have been making the Connecticut foodie world sit up and take notice: David Borselle at Bar Bouchée in Madison and Dorjan Puka at Treva around the corner in West Hartford.

Read the full article on ConnecticutMag.com. 

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Sunday
Mar232014

Bick's Burgers Opens in Danbury

Bick's Burgers opened on Friday, March 7 on Ives Street in downtown Danbury. And while I will save the true burger review for our resident expert, Jeff, here is a very early look at what to expect from Fairfield County's newest burger joint from our quick stop on opening day. 

The Bick's Burger concept is fairly straightforward–a modern take on burgers, elevated with homemade touches, and delivered with a solid 75/25 burger. The business is a partnership between Chef Michael Bick of SomeThings Fishy Catering, and his entrepreneurial son, Ian Bick.

In a nod to its humble diner roots, Bick's embraces the décor of the 50's drive-in diner. A row of counter seating and stools faces the kitchen's flat top griddle, and a black and white checkered floor and red vinyl booths complete this homage.  

There are several homemade touches on the menu. Homemade buns, including brioche, truffle brioche and sesame

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Thursday
Mar202014

Napa & Company Gets a New Chef: Adam Truelove at the Helm

Since opening in 2006, Napa & Co. has received numerous accolades as one of the best restaurants in Connecticut with a creative and inventive menu. Co-Owner Mary Schaffer told CTbites that her vision from the start has been the “wine country cuisine of Northern California…flavorful, fresh, simply prepared food with its roots based from the European influence of wine growers coming to the area from Spain, France and Italy over the last 100 years.” The restaurant prides itself on “blend(ing) the cultures” of various cuisines. Schaffer also has a keen eye for culinary talent and last year she hired and handed oversight of the kitchen to Executive Chef Adam Truelove.

Chef Adam earned a degree in Mathematics before following his culinary passion and enrolled at the French Culinary Institute in Manhattan. After graduation, he honed his skills at Town and Esca Restaurants before returning to the FCI as a Chef Instructor. He relocated to the Fairfield County area as the opening Sous Chef at Tarry Lodge in Port Chester, the Executive Chef at Pine Social in New Canaan and eleven 14 Kitchen in Greenwich as the Chef du Cuisine. Last year Napa & Co. reached out to Chef Adam and asked him to join its team to oversee the kitchen as Executive Chef.

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Sunday
Mar092014

Barrique Bistro & Wine Bar: Top Notch French with a Twist in Stamford

It’s the corner where downtown Stamford’s sidewalk café scene began. Bedford and Spring streets. Barrique has the best location in downtown Stamford, in a quaint stone building a few steps from the Art Deco Avon Theatre (date night recommendation--an independent film and Barrique’s bistro food).

In summer, Barrique’s large, wood doors fold open on both sides of the corner. For 14 years, it was Chez Jean-Pierre, and under new ownership since June, Barrique’s dining room has lost the humorous Renoir-esque mural of Jean-Pierre and his friends in favor of a subdued white and gray palette -- white-washed brick walls, café chairs, wrought iron chandeliers, and bare, dark wood tables. It’s a casual, relaxing atmosphere.  And there’s a new bar room at the back of the restaurant, a cozy spot where jazz is played Wednesday evenings.

Executive chef/co-owner Louis Barresi’s menu mostly focuses on France, with Italian, Spanish, Latin, Asian and Latin influences. Barresi is a co-owner of Doppio Artisan Pizza in Greenwich, New York City and Long Island. Manager and partner Danny Silver is the sommelier. Barrique means “barrel” in French, and if you have questions about the 41 wines served by the glass, ask him. He’s the former sommelier at A Voce in New York City. 

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Wednesday
Mar052014

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.   

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Sunday
Feb232014

Kibberia Restaurant Brings Middle Eastern Cuisine to Westport 

In September, Westport welcomed KIBBERIA Restaurant and Cafe to the Post Road serving traditional Lebanese and Middle Eastern cuisine. Kibbe, a Levantine dish made of bulgur, minced onions and ground beef, is a staple in many Middle Eastern kitchens, and  KIBBERIA serves KIBBE and an enormous variety of other Middle Eastern dishes, always fresh, always home-made (except for the Pita Bread)  and very tasty! You have to excuse the packaging and get right down to the food… Cafeteria style with paper bowls for soup does not scream “GOURMET” by any means. But the food is the thing...and KIBBERIA does not disappoint.

Westport is KIBBERIA’s second location (the other has been a huge success in Danbury since 2011) owned by Lebanese-born Nick Iskander and co-owner and head chef Carole Iskander. She is cooking for a packed, Westport crowd every day but Sunday. From moms with kids to business people out for a healthy, quick lunch to vegans to carnivores KIBBERIA provides a healthy, hearty, Middle Eastern meal that suits any palate.

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