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Holiday Catering Guide: 14 Restaurants & Traditional Caterers who do it all!

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Entries in SONO (35)


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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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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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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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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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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Chocopologie Re-Opens in Downtown SoNo with Espresso, Dessert & Lunch

Very shortly, Fritz Knipschildt, owner of Chocopologie, will be swapping his old 12 South Main St. location for an up-to-date Chocopologie at 133 Washington St.

The new Chocopologie has maintained some aspects of the old café like the European flair (yes, I’m thinking about the savory buckwheat crepes), the open chocolate-making station, and their trademark exposed brick walls. But don’t be fooled; the light-washed wood flooring, trendy antique furniture, and a simple chalkboard menu point to a decidedly new style. Knipschildt described the new restaurant’s theme as “doing less with more.”

Their “less is more” thinking has inspired their chow as well. Knipschildt and Manager Joseph Trepanowski are not fans of the nuevo, hipster movement, and said that “these hipster places put on good faces but it’s a facade,” adding that they want to be cool but have substance.

A primary focus of the 133 Washington St. location will be the espresso.

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Washington Prime in Sono Launches Sunday Prime Brunch Buffet

Washington Prime opened just a few months ago to rave reviews, and a steady stream of satisfied customers as a result of the visions of owners Robb Moss and Marco Siguenza and the creative innovations of Chef Jared Falco. This past Sunday, at the request of many of their patrons, Washington Prime decided to do something new – the Sunday Prime Brunch Buffet where, for $29.90, you can select from a complimentary Mimosa, Bloody Mary or Moscow mule as you indulge from an incredible buffet. Select from a raw bar, artisanal cheeses, salads, a prime rib and omelet station as well as the traditional fare - a selection of bacon, sausages, French toast, Eggs Benedict, miniature bagels with smoked salmon and the works, assorted pastries and Danishes, yogurt, granola and fresh fruit. 

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Spotlight on The "Local Burger" @ Local Kitchen & Beer Bar in Sono... Delicious

In my continuous and unending search for great hamburgers in Fairfield County, I returned to SONO to sample Chef Dan Kardos’ latest version at LOCAL Kitchen and Beer Bar. Kardos is no stranger to my “Best of” list with previous version from both Harvest Supper in New Canaan and NOLA (at this same location) earning a spot. The interior of the restaurant has been transformed, with more woods and lights plus the rear room (never my favorite) was converted into a Bourbon Bar. The new décor gives a much hipper and fun feel.

Chef Dan’s latest version is named “THE LOCAL BURGER” and includes all natural, humanely raised beef, sautéed wild mushrooms, bacon, Swiss cheese, fronions and black pepper mayo, encased in a Wave Hill bun…served with French fries and a pickle.

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Jax & Co. Opens in Sono, from the Owners of Mama's Boy: Breakfast, Lunch & To-Go Dinner 

Whenever the owner of a restaurant that serves great food announces a second location, I am excited to see where this second venture will lead.  After hearing that Greer Fredericks, the co-owner of Mama’s Boy in SONO, was opening JAX around the corner on North Main, I couldn’t wait for my first visit. JAX opened a few weeks ago and currently serves a wide range of breakfast options, plus a tremendous selection of creative sandwiches at lunch. It is also placing the final touches to its soon to be released take-away dinners, and awaiting the delivery of its ice cream machine.

Located just south of the SONO theatre, the interior is completely redesigned, accented with a red painted art nouveau ceiling and lots of wood throughout…it is definitely the sister restaurant to Mama’s Boy.

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