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Entries in Norwalk (177)


Joe Bruno Closes Pasta Nostra and Opens Audacious Bruculino in South Norwalk

With the debut of the sleek and sexy bruculino in South Norwalk, Joe Bruno finally presides over a true restaurant.  "Pasta Nostra was never meant to be more than a lunch spot," he says of the venerable store front that served as the anchor of the Sono culinary scene for 30 years. The place was getting old; Bruno wasn’t getting younger; it was time for something youthful, vibrant, and new. 

bruculino (Italian slang for “Brooklyn dude” – as in the person of Joe Bruno) is certainly all that -- and more.  Imagined by renowned Westport architect Roger Ferris, the glassy new space at 20 North Main is dominated by a fetching forty foot terrazzo bar that is flanked by 23 neon-red Lucite seats, all staged in what was once a furniture store.  For now, the bar is a lavoro in corso (still under construction), but Bruno will soon be mixing an array of spirits and craft cocktails in addition to the well curated wine list he brought over from Washington Street.   He also brought his entire staff from PN, both the back and front of the house. 

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MECHA Noodle Bar Opening in Downtown SoNo, Norwalk

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. 

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Colony Grill To Open in Norwalk CT @ New Waypointe Site

Colony Grill Development, LLC has reached a lease agreement with CP IV Waypointe BP I, LLC to open a Colony Grill within the newly-constructed Waypointe development, located at 515 West Avenue in Norwalk, CT.

Colony, famous for its thin-crust hot oil pizza, plans to open the location in mid-summer 2015.

“We believe Colony Grill is one of the restaurant linchpins of this project, “said Paxton Kinol, principal at Bellpointe Capital, the Waypointe developer. “We love their pizza, their local authenticity, and their commitment to community as a company. Colony is a tremendous amenity to the Waypointe project.”

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Donovan's in SONO Serving Up a Pretty Good Bar Burger

My ongoing Burger search continued into South Norwalk and Donovan’s Restaurant. Located on the corner of Washington and Water Streets, Donovan’s is an historic landmark, founded in 1889 by Jeremiah Donovan. Donovan was a member of the Connecticut House of Representatives, served in the Connecticut Senate as well as the United States House of Representatives, before returning to Norwalk as its Mayor. Rumors abound that a number of presidential candidates were seen "taking a break" while making their tours of New England.

When you enter the single dining room, you can understand why. It exudes a relaxed atmosphere with its wood walls, long bar with fifteen stools, a few low tables for a dozen guests, high-top tables for another two dozen and a round table tucked into the front corner. The walls are adorned with several TVs and a collection of vintage prizefighter pictures from former owner "Battling Bat Kunz." The restaurant and bar were restored in 1979 to its original Victorian style when SONO was a far cry from its currently vibrant scene.

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Bistro Mediterranean Opens in Norwalk: Tapas With Bold, Rich Flavors via Connecticut Magazine

Tapas remain such a hot trend that restaurants with no hint of Spanish heritage are salting menus with small bites and petite plates to share, partly because it’s so appealing to begin a meal with several appetizers (or to make an entire meal from a succession of tapas), and partly because small plates equal big business.

No harm in the best of one culture being imitated and adopted—but there’s also nothing like experiencing tapas in an authentic environment, prepared by a talented chef and served in an atmosphere that embodies a European cadence, with passion to delivering a superior dining experience the hallmark.

When all of that rings up at what can only be declared a bargain price—especially when contrasted with the threshold costs of fine dining in Connecticut circa 2015—it amounts to a mandate for discovery.

In this case, the restaurant to seek out is Bistro Mediterranean and Tapas Bar, which opened its third location earlier this year on Route 1 in Norwalk. The original is in East Haven, and thesecond bistro opened in Westbrook a year ago.

Read the complete review at 


Washington Prime 2.0 - Chef Howard McCall Jr. Brings Comfort Food to SONO

Patrons of Washington Prime will find comfort in the cuisine of its new Executive Chef Howard McCall Jr. This unassuming chef is not new to SoNo nor the kitchen at Washington Prime; he started in the kitchen at Barcelona twenty years ago and was the opening Sous Chef at Washington Prime last summer. Prior to joining Washington Prime he oversaw the kitchen at Mint restaurant in North Carolina which influenced his new Southern style cuisine.

CTbites was invited to meet the chef and sample some of his new additions to the menu. Chef Howard exudes a soft personality, allowing his culinary talents to speak. His recent changes to the new menu range from a creative American Soul Rolls to a Braised Lamb Shank, plus modifications of previous favorites. Each maintained the focus on the main ingredient with delightful accompaniments…more akin to Southern comfort food.

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Re-Cap: Oak + Almond's Four Roses Bourbon Dinner

CTbites was invited to Oak + Almond in Norwalk for its Four Roses Bourbon dinner to sample some of Chef Joseph Italiano’s creative cuisine paired with one of the country’s best bourbons. Working alongside Chef Italiano for this special event was Chef Chris Vacca, whom our readers know from serving one of the best burgers in Fairfield County from his food truck, Bounty. Chef Italiano has been at the helm for several months after stints at Bistro B in Westport and Bridgeport and with Chef Pat Pascarella at Bar Sugo.

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Mediterraneo in Norwalk ... A Culinary Tour of Southern Europe

Mediterraneo, a ‘destination restaurant’ in the Hotel Zero Degrees on Main Street in Norwalk is a beautiful backdrop for Executive Chef Albert DeAngelis’ culinary tour of the Mediterranean. The aquatic inspired dining room features a large bar area to the left, with several high top tables to augment the bar seating, and to the right is the main dining room. With hardwood floors, white chairs and a large nautical flag painting along the far right wall, the dining area presents a clean and airy feel. The highlight of the room is the floor to ceiling glass wall that overlooks the panoramic, million-dollar waterfall view on the river. From a magnificent French Braised beef “Bourguignon” to a mild Tuscan Prosciutto wrapped rabbit loin to an outstanding Wild black sea bass, the menu at Mediterraneo offers wide varieties of clean flavors and combinations.  Mediterraneo is one of five local restaurants owned by the  Z Hospitality Group.

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Strada 18: Revisiting Classic Italian Comfort Food in Norwalk

I was recently invited to a press dinner at Strada 18 in South Norwalk. The restaurant was eager to share with us their Italian-American Comfort Classics Dinner. With temperatures well below the freezing mark, all the snow, freezing rain and sleet, this is the type of food so many are craving right now. 

A group of about 20 or so writers, editors and bloggers gathered together for this dinner that was prepared especially for us. We started out with the Fried Calamari with Three Sauces, aioli, lemon-lime-jalapeno-cilantro, and marinara. The calamari was tender, flavorful and incredibly crispy and the accompanying sauces complemented them perfectly. We also enjoyed the Arancini, a fried risotto ball stuffed with American farmstead Fontina and served with a tomato sauce. The Arancini was good – but I wouldn’t say it was outstanding or one of the best I’ve ever had.

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CTbites Staff & Chef Picks for TOP EATS OF 2014

In terms of eating, the CTbites team of writers, photographers, and chef friends have managed to sample and savor more than most. 2014 has been a stellar year for restaurant openings as Fairfield County and the surrounding areas continue to draw great culinary talent.  Instead of coming up with a top ten list ourselves, we asked the CTbites extended family to share some of their most memorable meals and dining experiences this past year.

Here are our favorite meals and restaurants of 2014. 

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