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Entries in Norwalk (186)

Friday
Feb052016

Happy Hour at Basso Café in Norwalk

Basso Café exudes an easy intimacy that comes with a chef-owned restaurant whose reassuring presence is felt both in and out of the kitchen. Chef Renato Donzelli has built a loyal following of customers at his Norwalk restaurant who come for both his creative Italian-meets-South American dishes, as well as his charming hospitality and boundless energy. And now, they are coming for a newly added bar menu and cocktail list.

During a recent renovation, Basso Café invested in a new bar area with seating for about twelve, and a special menu of cocktails and snacks, thanks to a hard-won liquor license after eight years in business. Although you can still BYOB, Chef Donzelli has crafted a happy hour menu that can be enjoyed Tuesday through Friday from 4 to 6 pm, as well as a mini happy hour from 11 to 12 noon each day for lunch.

A self-described “hot blooded Italian” who grew up in Venezuela, Donzelli focuses his creative energy on a menu that blurs the lines between dishes from those two countries, creating his own unique cuisine. “I start from the back,” is how Chef Donzelli explains his approach to his menu. The new cocktail and wine list are meant to compliment the food, and long-time diners will be rewarded with a solid selection of shaken and stirred, classic and contemporary cocktails, as well as wine and beer.

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Wednesday
Jan202016

Cask Republic in South Norwalk Reinforces a Resurging Neighborhood's Destination Dining 

Washington Street, the epicenter of South Norwalk and a resurging dining scene, welcomes another new dining experience worth exploring. Cask Republic is a modern take on the communal tavern, now open at 99 Washington Street, formerly occupied by The Gingerman. The new restaurant delivers on its tavern promises with chef-driven comfort food and drink – American at its culinary core with an abundance of global influences.

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Sunday
Jan172016

Barcelona SoNo Moving to Waypointe After 20 Years

Barcelona’s Wine Bar's South Norwalk location has become a landmark in the neighborhood.  Situated on the corner of North Main Street, it seems to welcome people into SoNo as they exit I-95 and head downtown.

Now, after 20 years, Barcelona’s Norwalk location is moving to a new space.  The restaurant and wine bar’s next chapter will unfold up the street at Waypointe.  The exact timeframe has not yet been announced, but they plan to reopen sometime this summer.

Barcelona invites its fans to a “last call” at the old location on Saturday January 30.  Between 5pm and 2am, they’ll thank guests with surprise guests, delicious food, and wine.  Founders Sasa Mahr-Batuz and Andy Pforzheimer will be there to express their gratitude in person.

Sunday
Dec132015

Mecha Noodle Bar Opens in South Norwalk


A lot of love in that food,” I texted to Stephanie, my CTbites partner and frequent dining companion, within an hour of our departure from the new Mecha Noodle Bar in South Norwalk during one of their training nights.

“That’s the deal. He’s a special guy. It all means something to him. It’s not just the cooking. It’s nostalgia. Family. Friends. Community,” she texted back within moments.

Following that repartee, I realized whatever I wrote about our first impression of the new Mecha would pale in comparison to that observation. Love and community is the essence of what Mecha’s food is all about, and Chef Tony Pham along with partner Richard Reyes (Mézon), is at its Asian comfort food core.

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Thursday
Dec102015

The Blind Rhino Sports Bar Opens in South Norwalk

When I hear “sports bar,” I think lots of big screen TVs, beers, burgers, wings, nachos, anything to go with my Jets or Giants jersey. The Blind Rhino, recently opened in South Norwalk on Main Street just north of Washington, is undoubtedly a sports bar, with 27 big screen TVs, shuffleboard, darts, and jerseys adorning the walls. At the same time, it has elevated the cuisine with impressive menu items, an array of craft beers and a variety of whiskeys.  Many sports bar staples are still on the menu, but with a twist!

Owner /Chef Jamie Pantanella oversees the cuisine.  He has worked in restaurants and catering all over New England for the past 22 years. His most recent restaurant experience includes The Brewhouse and Gingerman SoNo.  At The Blind Rhino, Pantanella hones his years of experience to offer his “highlight reel.”

The menu is not large, but each item is thoughtful and flavorful.  “While having sections like wings, appetizers, soups, and sandwiches seem to be par for the course, having items like Togareshi Dry Rub Wings, Cider Braised Pork Belly Sliders, and a Sliced Ribeye Cheese Steak is exactly how we want to take the dining experience to the next level,” says manager Casey Dohme.

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Wednesday
Dec022015

Basso Café Restaurant in Norwalk Adds Wine Bar + New Menu

Several years ago CTbites visited Basso Café Restaurant on New Canaan Avenue in Norwalk and was very impressed with many of the dishes created by Owner / Chef Renato Donzelli. Since that time Chef Renato has maintained his vision of creating a wine bar to complement the food, and that is now a reality as Basso Café Restaurant is now Basso Café Restaurant Wine Bar.

The interior has been updated with large, vibrant paintings along one wall, smaller modern pieces along the other wall overseeing the 60 seat dining area. The lighting is soft and inviting and acoustical tiles have been installed to reduce the noise level. After the recent receipt of a full liquor license, guests can now benefit from Chef Renato’s pairing of wines to balance the vibrant flavors of his cuisine and the rear of the restaurant now showcases the bar area with a selection of personally selected spirits, including organic vodkas. 

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Thursday
Nov262015

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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Wednesday
Nov042015

Norwalk's Open Door Shelter Celebrates "Chopped" Celebrity

Open Door Shelter of Norwalk is hosting a fundraiser event on November 18 from 6 to 9 pm to celebrate the recent appearance of their kitchen manager, Victor Squire, on the Food Network show Chopped.

The event will be held at Aitoro in Norwalk, and will feature a competitive cook off between Norwalk Community College culinary student chefs. Wine and appetizers will be served, and Chef Victor Squire, the Chopped competitor will be on hand throughout the event to meet guests. Tickets are $50 per person and can be purchased online. All proceeds from the event will benefit the mission and services of the Open Door Shelter in Norwalk.

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Sunday
Nov012015

Harlan Publick in South Norwalk: Innovative Cuisine with a Tropical Twist

Harlan Publick opened last year in the SoNo Ironworks and immediately became a destination for great food, a vast line-up of beers and an outdoor terrace like none other in Fairfield County. The relaxed interior features a large bar, a dining area with both dining tables and high tops and a room for a private event that features several personalized beer taps, and represents the second for Managing Partner Steve Lewandowski, who is also the Managing Partner at Stamford’s Harlan Social, which has won accolades as one of the best restaurants in CT.

Executive Chef Kamal Rose recently joined Harlan Publick, and his road to this position was less than traditional. Raised on St. Vincent and the Grenadines, he developed his passion for cooking from his grandmother. He moved to New York at the age of 15 and subsequently received an internship at TriBeca Grill. In 2009 he won a $20,000 scholarship in a national cooking competition and earned his diploma from the Institute of Culinary Education. He returned to TriBeca Grill under the tutelage of Drew Nieporent and Steve Lewandowski and last year, Lewandowski asked Rose to join him at Harlan Publick where his newly introduced cuisine exemplifies his Caribbean roots tempered by classical training. 

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Thursday
Oct152015

The Spread Team Opening El Segundo in South Norwalk Featuring Street Food From Around The Globe

After 3 successful years in South Norwalk, the team from The Spread has just announced that they have signed a lease in the SoNo Ironworks complex. In early 2016 an exciting new restaurant concept will be coming to CT diners. The name is El Segundo and the idea is simple. Spread owners Christpher Hickey, Christopher Rasile, Andrey Cortes, and Shawn Longyear alongside Chef Carlos Baez have created a menu that features street food from around the globe that everyone loves to eat:  tacos, arepas, ceviche, Asian bao, light salads and a little comfort food thrown in for good measure. The setting is casual and fun, with a price point that will make diners in South Norwalk smile.  And the bar? Let’s just say these guys know a thing or two about bartending.  

Directly across from Harlan Publick, El Segundo is poised to deliver a uniquely fun dining experience to Fairfield County. The restaurant features an open kitchen with bar seating, allowing diners to watch Chef Carlos as he re-creates dishes from his childhood, including his father’s recipe for Tacos Al Pastor. Large windows make this space light and airy and garage doors will open up to the Ironworks courtyard in the warmer months. 

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