As Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump anxiously rehearsed their talking points and many huddled around their television screens in anticipation of the final Presidential debate, I was… sipping rose on the outdoor patio of Vine Wine Room in Westport. Despite the fact that it was mid-October, temperatures soared into the upper eighties and the sun shone gloriously. Ignoring any political tensions, a friend and I decided to take full advantage of the Indian Summer and headed over to Vine Wine Room, a restaurant-meets-lounge on Westport’s Main Street. One week prior, Vine hired acclaimed local chef Toni Sapienza to reimagine their menu and infuse new energy into the restaurant. They had invited us down to check out the lounge and we were eager to give Toni’s cuisine a try.
Entries in Wine Bar (17)
Food halls are all the craze in NYC right now. But in lower Fairfield County, food halls are completely missing and the closest one (the first in Westchester) is in Mount Kisco’s bustling downtown area and is totally worth the 40-plus minute drive to fill your bellies and thus, nourish your soul.
Exit 4 Food Hall opened in February and it’s already a Main Street hot spot. In an area packed with good eateries and ultra-cool bars, Exit 4 is a destination. It’s casual, it’s great for just about any occasion, and with nine food/drink counters there are lots of options for those days when you’re feeling a bit picky. On weekend nights it can get loud, and busy, but that’s part of its charm. There’s a sense of community here and you might even make a few foodie friends while you’re chowing down on food and chugging a brew. I was recently invited to try some of the food and the brew.
Exciting news from Barcelona Wine Bar and Barteca Restaurant Group! Selections from their award-winning wine list, recognized by publications like Wine Spectator and The Wall Street Journal, are now available online. Newly unveiled “Gretchen’s Selections” features approximately 25 wines that are directly imported and offered to Barcelona’s guests. Each wine was hand-selected by Gretchen Thomas, acclaimed Wine and Spirits Director for Barteca Restaurant Group.
“I’m always looking for great wines for the Barcelona wine program, whether they are sold through my trusted suppliers or not,” says Thomas.
Sometimes she comes across amazing bottles here at home. Vineyards will ship wines to her or she will be introduced to someone in the area doing something new and exciting. Other times, her quest takes her overseas.
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.
Going out for a meal can be an incredibly rewarding experience. There is a reason restaurants are a popular spot for a night out and a number of people proudly refer to themselves as “foodies.” However, it can also be a downright chore. Do I brave the downtown traffic? Where do I park my car? How do I get there? Will there be a table for me?
Lugano Wine Bar and Salumeria, newly opened in Greenwich, alleviates all of those hassles. The Italian inspired restaurant sits just off of exit 6 from I-95 on East Putnam Avenue in Riverside, far removed from the droves of people downtown. It has its own lot next to the restaurant for easy parking as well as a valet service.
Indoors, the space is approachable, yet impressive. When you walk through the front doors, you enter a spacious bar with plenty of seating and room to stand and mingle. Wine glasses elegantly line the bar’s counter, as if inviting patrons in for a drink.
Just off of the bar to the right is a large dining room with high ceilings and a dome that serves as a skylight. It is light and open, lined with large windows. Lugano even boasts a private dining room for special functions, or for guests who prefer a quiet dining experience.
The lovely space was the impetus for the restaurant.
The New Haven outpost of Harvest Wine Bar is the fifth restaurant for siblings Kleber, Nube, and Vincente Siguenza, the the trio behind Cava in New Canaan, 55 Degrees in Fairfield, Scena in Darien, and sister restaurant Harvest Wine Bar in Greenwich. CTbites reviewed the Greenwich location almost a year ago, and many of the same culinary observations apply to this newly opened New Haven outpost on Chapel Street. I stopped in recently to experience the restaurant’s $19 two-course prix fixe lunch, perhaps one of the best downtown lunch options among New Haven’s fine dining restaurants.
Napa & Co. announced its 2015 Wine Class / Tasting schedule that will span the world and offer classes for the novice, the experienced wine connoisseur and those looking for a deeper understanding of various regions and blends. Prices range from $50 to $120 per person (plus tax and gratuity) and includes up to six different varieties. All classes start at 630PM.
Monday January 12th - WINE 101 - Start the year with an interesting class for the novice wine drinker and learn how to better describe wines and pair each with food. Enjoy 3 whites and 3 reds. $50pp (plus tax and gratuity)
Monday January 26th - Jordan Library Wine Tasting 2001-06 - Jordan is one of the icons of Alexander Valley producing Old World style Bordeaux blends. We will try a vertical tasting of 6 wines and see how well they age, and how they’ve changed. $120pp (plus tax and gratuity)
The work day comes to a close and all I can think is “Holy hell I need a bottle of wine …maybe two… maybe three… who’s coming with me?” But where do I go? What places offer specials? What vibe am I feeling? I instantly start googling “Happy Hour Downtown Stamford” but nothing pops up and suddenly I am in a panic, yes a panic. We’ve all been there many times…so I have compiled the ultimate list to help fellow happy hour enthusiasts.
Personal favorites for each day are:
- Monday - Cotto, with half-priced bottles of wine and delicious tapas it’s the perfect way to ease into a hectic week;
- Tuesday - Lola’s Mexican Restaurant, Taco Tuesday & Margaritas…need I say more?
- Wednesday - Brickhouse Bar & Grill, known to many regulars as “wing night” it’s a low-key, delicious and fun way to finish hump day;
- Thursday – Barcelona, delicious tapas and great deals on a variety of wines, the young and vibrant scene is always served up;
- Friday – Hudson Grille, come for the happy hour and stay for the DJ, just be sure to bring your dancing shoes;
You know how you “just know” when a new restaurant is going to be good? That’s the feeling you get in the first ten minutes at Brick + Wood, a new restaurant and wine bar in Fairfield’s Brick Walk Plaza on the site of the former Ponte Vecchio restaurant. When you make a great find like this, it’s a double-edged sword: You want to share it with friends, but at the same time keep it your secret a little longer. We decided to share. You’re welcome.
On a recent lunch visit, as we perused the distressed-wood and worn-brick decor, an amuse bouche appeared out of nowhere—two crispy crostini topped with fluffy homemade ricotta, sautéed broccoli rabe and imported prosciutto—as if to say, “Let’s get this party started.”
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.