Twice a year, I schlep into New York for “Restaurant Week” to experience some of the city’s finest eateries for a fraction of regular prices, like my unforgettable, three-course feast at Pera Mediterranean Brasserie, voted a “Top 5 Newcomer by Zagat” at January’s NYC Restaurant Week.
When I learned that Restaurant Week is finally making its way up to Westport, home to over 35 eateries, I began lining up my dining partners—and you should, too.
The First Annual Westport-Weston Restaurant Week will take place from February 28-March 6, and we at CTbites plan to make the most of it. As of this printing, some 20 Westport restaurants, with a range of cuisines and price points, have signed on. The list represents a cross-section of local venues, both casual and high-end, from the down-and-dirty Black Duck and the down-home Bobby Q’s to the organic dynamo, The Dressing Room, to the perennially popular Tarantino’s and DaPietro’s, to newcomers including Manolo and Rizzuto’s.
“Restaurant Week is a great opportunity to try out a restaurant that may be out of your budget or one that has been on your radar,” says Linda Kavanagh, owner of MaxEx, LLC, a Stamford-based PR company. Kavanagh, along with Lisa Thygerson, Executive Director of the Westport-Weston Chamber of Commerce, designed the event to provide local restaurants with a fun way to promote business and introduce their food, decor and concept to new diners.
“This event is ideal for a restaurant like ours,” says Janine Scotti of DaPietro’s Restaurant on Riverside Avenue, presided over by husband and chef/owner Pietro Scotti. “It attracts people who might perceive the restaurant to be too expensive or too fancy. When they walk in, they’ll see that we offer a daily two-course Express Lunch for $12 and, though we pride ourselves on the best ingredients and gourmet foods, we are not at all stuffy; we get a ton of moms who come in early for lunch before picking up their preschoolers. For Restaurant Week, we’re doing a three-course lunch for $15 and a four-course dinner for $35. How can you beat it?”
Besides the fact these disparate restaurants are located in Westport, the thread that binds them is that they are all offering prix-fixe lunch and/or dinner specials throughout Restaurant Week. The restaurateurs and chefs have taken great pains to create innovative menus that showcase their eateries and signature cooking styles.
Here’s how it works: Most casual restaurants will offer special $15 lunches and/or $25 dinners and higher-end restaurants will offer $20 lunches and/or $35 dinners. Some restaurants will offer special family-style menus for four diners or more, also at a discounted price. A selection of $5 wines by the glass will also be available, courtesy of Northeast Wine Brokers and Classic Wines.
Here’s the lineup as of press time:
Black Duck Café
Bombay Bar and Grill
Bobby-Qs Barbeque & Grill
The Dressing Room
La Villa Trattoria
Mansion Clam House
River House Tavern
Rizzuto's Wood-Fired Restaurant & Bar
Splash Restaurant & Bar
Tavern on Main
To stoke interest in the event, the organizers recently hosted a rocking, invitation-only kick-off party at the Westport Country Playhouse, catered by Rizzuto's, Matsu Sushi and Tavern on Main, for the participants and the media, Chamber board members, Playhouse subscribers and event sponsors. Since then, the buzz has been building for the event, and local restaurateurs report that they have already started fielding calls and taking reservations.
Our advice? Check out your dining options at westportchamber.com ASAP and, though reservations are not required, call to reserve your spots, as organizers expect a brisk turnout. Another head’s up: Most of these menus don’t include beverages, tip or tax.
If you are out of town during the February Restaurant Week, don’t fret. There’s a second Restaurant Week in the works, set for late summer, although the date is still TBD. If you do make it in February, we’d love to hear your review or thoughts on any of the restaurants you sample during Restaurant week. We’re always interested in your experiences and, if you’d like our perspective, many of our contributors will blogging about their favorite meals and highlights throughout the week. All in all, Restaurant Week promises a good time that doesn’t break the bank. See you there!