Fairfield County has some great bars with good old fashioned bar food…wings, burgers, fries, onion rings, cheesesteaks, with a wide variety of beers. Recently, many have expanded the menu to include tacos, chili, ribs, chicken and other down and dirty delicacies. When I received an invitation to join a media event at Johnny Utah’s in SoNo I was curious, since this bar also features a mechanical bull (spoiler…not happenin’).
Entries in SONO (42)
Recently the CTbites team previewed the menu at El Segundo in South Norwalk, the newest restaurant from the talented partners who created The Spread just up the block. The concept: Eat the Street. Intersect some of the world’s tastiest street food at the corner of Washington and North Water in SONO.
What began as a tasting quickly turned into a party ... a coming out party for Carlos Baez, Executive Chef of The Spread, one of the region’s most versatile, yet unheralded, chefs.
The menu flaunts Baez’ extraordinary range -- a gastronomic tour de force featuring over 3 dozen dishes curated from the boulevards and back allies of 27 countries on all seven continents, including barren Antarctica. (More about that selection later)
The Spread was the first: hip, smart, happening. Contemporary Sono.
El Segundo, by definition, will be The Second. This time: Street. Urban. Old World Global.
“We’ll have street food from each of the 7 Continents,” said Chris Hickey as he recently gave CTBites a preview of The Spread team’s new joint set to open in early August. Hickey and co-owners Andrey Cortes, Chris Rasile, Shawn Longyear and Executive Chef Carlos Baez envision an international playground for the palate.
“We’re going to have some fun,” Chris promised, grinning.
Open the corrugated metal garage door, and the vista is a courtyard boasting a fountain, storefronts, and looming apartments. A piazza in Naples? A market in Buenos Aries. A food fair in Bangkok.
Inside the restaurant, you’re on a side street. The vibe is almost Third World. The predominant motif is that corrugated sheeting – the humble material that shelters much of the earth’s population. A wall is painted in the brilliant graffiti of Duster, New York’s notorious tagger. On the wall, a subway door and a Number 6 Train to Duster’s Bronx. Its boogie. Its street food.
Are you looking for an inexpensive burger for lunch? Maybe some fries and a soda to join the burger? If they are all offered as a lunch special, even better. With my obsession with burgers, and my annual Best “10” burgers in southwest Connecticut behind me, I decided to try the moderately priced, newly opened Prime Burger in SoNo. Located next to The Spread, one of my Best “10” burgers, the SoNo location is the second in the area, after the original opened in Ridgefield several years ago.
Prime Burger offers beef, salmon, turkey, chicken and veggie burgers from $6.50-$8.00 with free (sauces, onion, lettuce, tomato, etc.) and $1.00 toppings (cheese, chili bacon, etc.), a la 5-Guys. The menu also includes hot dogs, grilled cheese, chicken tenders and salads (you can add a patty or grilled chicken). If you enter from the street your journey begins near the rear, where you place your order. I ordered the $10 lunch special, which included a cheeseburger, fries and a beverage.
MECHA in Sono is launching their Late Night Menu served Thu 10pm-12pm, Fri and Sat 10pm-1am.
The Late Night Menu will feature special snacks and Ramen as well as cocktails you can only get after hours. To celebrate, they will be introducing the menu and hosting a PARTY Thursday, February 11th at 10PM. Enjoy some special treats from the kitchen (even some complimentary chicken sandwiches) and some amazing cocktails from their late night market menu.
A few highlights from the Late Night Menu include: THIT BO KHO beef brisket jerky, SHOYU BREAKFAST RAMEN w/ brown butter, bacon, egg, and cheese; WONTON MI RAMEN w/ fried shallots, sesame, greens, pork & shrimp wontons $10.
Remember, slurping in encouraged.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.