After 20 years as a Sono institution, Barcelona Wine Bar has moved up the street and officially opened its doors in Norwalk’s new Waypointe complex. Their new home looks and feels much like the creative dining spaces guests have come to expect from Barcelona’s five CT locations, but as SVP Adam Halberg says “ Waypointe will feel familiar, but there are some key areas that make this new location quite unique.” The open kitchen, massive 40 seat bar, and a new menu approach will take their authentic and distinctive Spanish tapas menu even closer to the markets and restaurants of Spain.
Entries in Spanish (20)
I have an affinity for those underexplored sweet spots that are slightly off the beaten path, tucked away, or unheard of. For whatever reason, Taberna, a Mediterranean tapas and wine bar located in the Brick Walk in downtown Fairfield hasn’t been widely discovered. Although I hadn’t heard of it many have, and those who have sing its praises.
Some of you might be familiar with the name, thinking it’s not in Fairfield, it’s in Bridgeport! And you would be correct, sort of... Prior to opening the Fairfield location, Chef Daniel Lopez and his brother Jaime owned and operated the Bridgeport restaurant for 8 years. Upon hearing that it was closing, longtime diners were happy to follow to the new larger venue with light-filled dining area, large bar and outdoor patio.
I was able to sit down and chat with Chef Lopez who was born and raised in Ecuador who revealed to me that he had been enamored with the flavors and cuisines of the Mediterranean since he was a child. In 1994 he and his brother emigrated to the states and immediately began working in the restaurant industry - for many well-known Fairfield County favorites.
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.
Who doesn’t love brunch? Sleepy weekend diners can conveniently avoid their own kitchens while enjoying an often decadent and relaxed morning meal. Plus, as a bonus, brunch is often accompanied by a well crafted cocktail. For this reason, we were pleased to hear that Barcelona Wine Bar has launched brunch service every Saturday and Sunday at several of their locations, including West Hartford, Stamford, and now Fairfield. As each Barcelona menu highlights the vision of their executive chef, brunch menus will vary slightly based on style, but bear a similar theme. To investigate this new kid on the brunch block, we decided to visit Chef Darren Carbone, who recently took over the Barcelona Fairfield kitchen, and who brings to the table, a little Latin flair.
In looking at the new Brunch menu, it’s difficult not to get just a little bit excited. Entrées such as Duck Confit Hash, Chocolate and Dulce de Leche French Toast, and a Breakfast “Coca,” (grilled bread, mushrooms, egg and Sriracha), sound like solid reasons to get out of bed.
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.
Many in the New Haven area mourned the closing of Ibiza last spring. The restaurant has been reimagined by former Ibiza chef Manual Romero who is now the owner and chef, reviving this modern Spanish tapas mecca for the city once again.
Our friends at Connecticut Magazine recently visited, giving it an excellent rating, and here's why:
When Ibiza in New Haven closed last spring, Connecticut lost a culinary treasure. Located on High Street, steps away from two famous art museums, it was itself a work of art, showcasing the best of modern Spanish cuisine in the state and on the East Coast. Busy, buzzy, frequently bustling, with a mile-long list of intriguing tapas and a devoutly loyal customer base, it vanished suddenly, as if it had never been. Rumors flew. Diners mourned. But within six months, the spirit of Ibiza rose like a phoenix in the same location but in a glamorous new guise, re-imagined and rechristened, Olea.
Barcelona in Fairfield has welcomed new executive chef Ian Kokkeler, with previous chef Helton DaSilva relocating south to man the restaurant groups second busiest restaurant in Atlanta.
Kokkeler hails from Austin, where he spent the last several years as executive chef as some of that city’s most well known restaurants including Uchi, Congress and the W Hotel in Austin He spent 7 years at Uchi, a Japanese restaurant, where plating and precision called upon his talents as an artist.
"I am artistic, and here at Barcelona we are rustic. I hope to blend these two with my plating style. As an artist, I like to paint and sculpt, and that translates well to cooking," said Kokkeler during our visit to Barcelona during his first full week on the job.
With a hip and lively environment, the Barcelona restaurants have consistently offered bold cuisine, inspired by the Iberian Peninsula accompanied with some of the best drinks and Sangria in the area. Each location adheres to the basic premise that a visit to Barcelona must combine great fun with great food. To continue in this tradition, Barcelona (SONO) recently introduced its new Executive Chef Wayne Homsi. Fresh from his culinary journey throughout Spain, CTbites stopped by to sample Chef Homsi’s new additions to the Spring menu.
Chef Wayne graduated with honors from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park and joined The Waldorf Astoria Hotel where he became the youngest sous chef in its history. He subsequently worked at Picholine and then became the opening sous chef at its sister restaurant Artisanal Fromagerie and Bistro in New York. He next joined Il Barilotto as Executive Chef and Partner in 2002 before joining Barcelona SONO earlier this year.
The menu at Barcelona offers “Meat + Cheese,” “Tapas” plus a few smatterings of “Paella,” “Meat + Fish” and Mixed Grill.” The Tapas contains bar bites and others that are more closely described as small sharing plates.
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.
In search of my culinary Dulcinea, I heard there was a new "cocinero" in the town. So, instead of hopping on a faithful nag, I got in my fickle Mini Cooper and headed to the Greenwich Barcelona for the culinary offerings of new head-chef, Michael Lucente. Chef Michael comes to Barcelona after 10 years of experience, starting as a graduate from the Culinary Institute of America. He has been Sous Chef at BLT Steak in Westchester and Napa in Stamford and head chef at La Promenade des Anglais in New York. He had the exciting opportunity to Sous Chef on Iron Chef America in April of last year and joined Barcelona Greenwich in November. Greenwich, you're in luck. And so are Barcelona patrons everywhere as the revamping of Barcelona's signature menu is making tapas-cravers everywhere muy feliz.