CT Guide to Outdoor Dining (2017): 80+ Restaurants for Summer

April Guilbault

“What’s the secret ingredient?”, you ask. Well, it’s…Air. 

The winter-that-wasn’t (save for one last see-I-told-you-so storm) is now officially behind us and folks everywhere are throwing open the windows and enjoying the sight of lush green grass and a continual parade of Spring flowers. Out come the patio chairs! Behold the grill! Phew, we have missed you. Let’s all enjoy this week of Connecticut Spring before it leaps to 90 degrees, shall we?

In the event that you have neither of these aforementioned outdoor items, you can hightail it to any one of these delightful establishments to dine alfresco. Doesn’t a little fresh air always put a pep in your step? And, in this case, a little sunshine on your biscuits. Head outdoors to dine and enjoy!

If we missed an outdoor venue that you frequent, please share your find below. 


Ecco Rooftop Bar (8 PT Barnum Square, on top of La Zingara)-Brick-oven fired pizzas, craft beers, cocktails-the whole shebang served on a big ol’ rooftop. Serving brunch, lunch and dinners gastro-pub style. Truffle popcorn, roasted bone marrow, Cubano sandwiches, pizza with bacon jam…worth checking out, don’t you agree? www.eccorooftop.com


Captain’s Cove (1 Bostwick Ave.) -Throw on your flip flops and head to Black Rock for casual, warm weather fun at this 400-seat establishment (!). Live entertainment, an upper deck over looking the harbor, Wednesday Fish Fries, seafood galore. Summertime and the living is easy. Opening day is May 12th, just in time for Mom’s Day. www.captainscoveseaport.com 


Terra (15 Milestone Rd.)-Northern Italian restaurant that serves simple, tasty food in a relaxed atmosphere. Pizzas and wood-oven cooked dishes, homemade pastas, American Waygu Beef Carpaccio with white truffle oil, Milk-Fed Veal Milanese and Parmesan-Crusted Filet of Sole, served in the dining room or at their outside grill and bar. www.zhospitalitygroup.com/terradanbury


The Goose American Bistro and Bar (972 Post Rd.) -There’s a lonnnng, beautiful bar, outside seating, and a great pub-y atmosphere with more than its share of charm. Enjoy live music in the summer (check website for times and bands) to go along with your Crab and Corn chowder, Lobster sliders and Truffle Mac-and-Cheese, Point Judith Calamari or their signature Goose Burger (bacon, blue cheese, crispy onions). Serving lunch, dinner and brunch. www.thegoosedarien.com

Meatball & Co.(20 Center St.)-Beneath a quaint green-and-white striped awning, you can partake in what Meatball and Co. calls “the ballin’ lifestyle” (they said it, not me). Choose your balls, choose your sauce, hunker down. These aren’t your grandma’s balls either (sorry-had to)…The Gyro-Ball, The General Tso’s Ball, The San Gennaro Ball. Hang on for the ride. www.meatballandco.com

Scena (1077 Post Rd.)-Wood-oven fired pizzas, made-from-scratch pastas, and a wall of wine are the highlight at this jumpin’ “scene” that highlights Mediterranean cuisine. It’s busy and fun and you can camp yourself at their “L”-shaped outside eating area, complete with heaters for chilly evenings. www.scenawinebar.com


The Hops Company ( 77 Sodom Lane ) - Offering over 36 draft beers in an authentic European beer garden setting, they have a full bar, fun and casual food options that are served up at family-style tables, fire pits, and plenty of games for the whole family. Pizzas, flights, Brats, nachos, Pierogies, kraut, chili…and lots of beer. Getting the picture? Set across 4.5 acres and tucked away in scenic Derby, The Hops Company is a rustic hidden gem that is closer than you would think ̶ a short drive from Fairfield and New Haven County locations.  www.thehopscompany.com


55 Wine Bar and Wood Grille (55 Miller St.)-American cuisine with a Mediterranean flair! Prix Fix lunches and brunches, as well as lunch and dinner menus. Crispy Artichokes, Wood Fired Sliders, Grilled Shrimp Salad, Lobster Pappardelle, Long Island Duck alongside music on Wednesday nights makes a person happy! www.55winebar.com

Barcelona (4180 Black Rock Tpke., Stamford and Norwalk, too)-In Fairfield, sit on the deck under beach-casbah-like awnings and enjoy little bite after little bite for lunch, dinner and late night fun. Meats, cheeses, paella. The only thing missing will be Javier Bardem. www.barcelonawinebar.com

The Chelsea (12 Unquowa Place)-Enticing gastro-pub food while languishing in a greenhouse or outside, watching the world go by. Try a Black Rock Lemonade (organic vodka/fresh lemonade/black cherry-jalepeno puree) and some lobster salad on their pretzel roll, duck buns, poppers, fish sammys, paella. The hippest little cottage-y place you’ll ever dine in. www.thechelseaff.com

Geronimo Tequila Bar & Southwest Grill (2070 Post Rd., 271 Crown St., New Haven)-“The Largest selection of tequila on the East Coast”. Honestly-do we need to say anything more? Well, let’s add guacamole made at your table, Buffalo Steak Chile, Navajo frybread, Lobster and Chorizo mac-and-cheese, and a delightful smattering of margaritas, too. www.geronimobarandgrill.com

Pizzeria Molto (1215 Post Rd.) -There’s *molto* to choose from at this pizzaria, mozzarella and wine bar. And yes, we said a mozzarella bar. Let’s the cheesy goodness ensue. Then add paninis, pasta, pizzas galore, Italian drinks, desserts and coffee and top it off with some Italian movies playing alongside. www.pizzeriamolto.com


Rooftop 120 (120 Hebron Ave.) -New England’s largest four-season rooftop, with ample outdoor clubby seating, fire pits, and a stay-out-late trendy vibe. Serving small plates and a wide variety of martinis and cocktail at the new Nosh 120 restaurant on the rooftop, you will want to linger on those warm summer nights. Flatbreads, salads, raw bar, sharing plates of Truffle Fries, General Tso’s ribs, soft pretzel bites will having you Noshing into the wee hours. www.rooftop120.com


The Place (901 Boston Post Rd.) -This place, The Place, is about as outdoors as you can get without going camping. Tree stumps are your chairs, outdoor fires cook your meal and the menu hangs outside over it all. Lobster, fish, chicken, steak, Veggiebobs all cooked to perfection…outside! Bring the family, have a cool dinner or lunch. Check website. Note: Cash or check only. www.theplaceguilford.com

Guilford Lobster Pound (505A Whitfield St.) -Lobster shack, long dock, picnic tables, seagulls and a great view. We think you get the picture! This family owned business catches the fish daily and serves it up to you…hot lobster rolls, sea dogs, clam chowder,  stuffed clams, cole slaw, chips, and ice cream….ah, summer. www.guilfordlobsterpound.com


Centro Ristorante and Bar (328 Pemberwick Rd.)-Twenty-five years in business, charming interior spaces, and an equally inviting outdoor rooftop patio. Enjoy lunch, dinner, and Sunday Brunch perched under an umbrella, sipping Bloody Marys and Aperol Spritzes and dining on bruschetta, burgers, pastas to paninis. www.centroatthemill.com

Crew (280 Railroad Ave.)-Pergola-covered patio with cheerful orange umbrellas, live music on Friday nights, fixed price lunch menus, meat and cheese platters, Italian sausage sliders, Edamame Hummus, Cobbler du Jour, lemoncello, wines and Smitty’s Suds Selections, amongst other eats and libations. www.crew280.com

Elm Street Oyster House (11 West Elm St.)-John Singer Sargent’s Madame X presides over this haven of super-fresh and exceptional seafood. Whether served in their colorful space indoors or the small yet quaint outdoor area, their dishes will impress. Paella, a wide array of oysters, tuna carpaccio, PEI mussels, poke, fish tacos, Maryland crab cakes. Sounds like summer, doesn’t it? www.elmstreetoysterhouse.com

HOME (1114 E Putnam Ave · Riverside) -The glass doors from the restaurant open to a patio to seat an additional 80 guest under a canvas lined pergola. The atmosphere is relaxed on numerous chairs and sofas to enjoy some fantastic Italian food under the stars. Scheduled to open late May. www.jhousegreenwich.com/greenwich-restaurants-en.html

L'Escale (500 Steamboat Rd.) -The fine French cuisine and a view of Greenwich Harbor captures the feel of the South of France. Extensive and beautiful outdoor seating runs along a considerable stretch of dock where you can partake in lunch, dinner, and brunch. Seafood on ice, Kaluga caviar, Salad Nicoise, Chicken Paillard, Tuna Tartare. Don’t forget where you parked the yacht, honey. www.lescalerestaurant.com

Mill Street Bar & Table (230 Mill St.) -A tavern atmosphere that’s at once elegant yet warm and homey. Cozy up on their patioon a starry night at this neighborhood favorite alongside the Byram River. Serving seasonal ingredients from their Back 40 farm, salads, sandwiches, flatbreads, handmade pasta dishes are as fresh as can be. www.millstreetct.com

Terra (156 Greenwich Ave.) -Enjoy lunches and dinners on their atmospheric patio with a decidedly Mediterranean flare. Crab Crostino, Kobe beef carpaccio, pizzas, plenty of pasta and seafood dishes and every Tuesday night is “Wine Appreciation Night” with discounted bottles. www.zhospitalitygroup.com


The Café at Middlebury Consignment (1365 Whittemore Rd) This hidden gem is tucked inside a huge building filled with furniture & home accessories. The Café is quaint and cozy and their chefs cook and teach in the dining room. The outdoor patio by the waterfall and beautiful gardens is the perfect spot to enjoy a relaxing lunch, or host an event.


Stonebridge (50 Daniel St.)-Expansive outdoor areas snuggled up against the Wepawaug River and well, a stone bridge. Go forpub or fine dining and enjoy their signature shrimp cocktail, Blacked Scallop Salad, Seafood Risotto, flatbreads, salads, and small plates. Serving lunch, brunch, dinner or late night drinks and apps. www.stonebridgerestaurant.com

Colony Grill (36 S. Broad St.) -“Home of the Hot Oil Pizza” and if you haven’t tried a hot oil pizza, get in the car and get over there pronto. Colony has been thrilling pizza-lovers since 1935 and keeps on going.Thin, crispy crust pizza, drinks, and beer. How can you go wrong and do we really need to say more? www.colonygrill.com

Michael Anthony's Tuscan Grill (475 New Haven Ave.)-Overlooking marshes and Gulf Pond, you’ll enjoy classic Italian dishes such as Linguini with Clam Sauce, Stuffed Shells, Veal Parmigiano, pizzas and flatbreads. Open for lunch, dinner, and Happy Hour for Mediterranean Mules and Mango-tinis. www.michaelanthonystuscangrill.com


Chef Luis (129 Elm St.)-Steaks, burgers, salads but with a nice touch of Central American flavor influences-a variety of quesadillas, tartares, taco bar, steak bar. Dinner, lunch, brunch and a kids’ menu items to enjoy outside as the restaurant spills out to the Elm Street sidewalk during the warm months. www.chefluis.net

Elm (73 Elm St.) -Brunches, lunches, bar dining and beyond highlight modern American cuisine at this sleek New Canaan eatery, which also has a smallish but lovely sidewalk dining space. Local, seasonal, and organic ingredients are showcased and shown the love; oysters, Tuna Poke, Steak Frites, Diver Scallops, Bourbon Cheesecake, Orange Zeppole. Enjoy a Nonsense and Sensibility cocktail while you partake. www.elmrestaurant.com

Locali (32c Forest St.)-Wood-burning oven fired pizzas, small plates such as Shaved Local Cauliflower, Goat Cheese Bruschetta and Umami Meatballs, entrees such as Broccoli Fettuccini and Garganelli Bolognese will pair well with their extensive wine, beer, and cocktail menu. Outdoor seating (to rival the indoor seating) ramps up towards the end of April. Kale on a pizza? Uh-huh! Open for dinner and drinks. www.localipizzabar.com

Roger Sherman Inn (195 Oenoke Ridge) - Park yourself under the red awnings and take in the history of this traditional Connecticut inn. Overlook the gardens and beautiful yard while you enjoy such specialties as Vichyssoise, Smoked Scottish Salmon, Escargots, Dover Sole Meuniere, and Chocolate Mousse with hand-dipped strawberries. www.rogershermaninn.com

Tequila Mockingbird (6 Forest St.)-Saddle up to a classic this summer. Tequila Mockingbird, with its over-the-top Mexican decor, will take you South of the Border with their extensive list of tequilas and mezcals (one of the largest in the NE), sizzling fajitas, Baja fish tacos, tortilla soup. If it’s Mexican, they have it. Outdoor dining on adorable Forest Street when the temps gets caliente. www.tequilamockingbirdnc.com

South End Uncorked (15 Elm St.) -Tiny patio serving big flavors in the form of snacks and taps, as well as lunch and dinner plates. Here’s something new: try their “Shot program”, where you can pick your shot by the ounce. Lots of organic, local ingredients in snacks such as Pork Carnitas, Fried Cheese Curds, Steamed Pork Buns, salads, and soups. Lots of taps, lots of bottles. Time to unwind. www.seuncorked.com


Caseus (93 Whitney Ave.)-Cheese and charcuterie, while sitting outside in the summer sun. Could life get any better? Well, let’s see…Poutine, Steak Frites, Mac and Cheese (with numerous cheeses), Anson Mills Cornbread, House Sausage, Onion Soup Gratin (with more cheese)…see where we are going here? First class ticket to Cheeseville. Enjoy! www.caseusnewhaven.com

Goodfellas (702 State St.)-The movie plays on screens, Frank Sinatra and Andrea Boccelli tunes croon in the background, the red sauce flows and you never know when a celebrity might walk through the front door, as many have. Enjoy rooftop dining with your Gnocchi Pomodoro, Sicilian Penne, antipastos, Zuppa di Clams, and risottos. Check out the menus for their Ladies’ Nights, too, and leave the good fellas at home. www.goodfellasrestaurant.com

Temple Grill (152 Temple St.)-Easy, casual, college-town pub food-and you’ve got the power to construct your own. Build your own pasta dishes, salads, and sandwiches. Choose the ingredients, they put them together. If you want something already assembled, their Grilled Meatloaf is a big hit along with the Seafood Pie. www.templegrill.com

L’Orcio (806 State St.)-European elegance in a refurbished historical home, but all the while relaxing and welcoming. The wisteria covered arbor seats patrons outside during warm weather where you can partake of their Italian cuisine-Grilled Octopus, Filet Mignon Carpaccio, handmade pastas, Mediterranean Sea Bass, and a comprehensive wine menu. www.lorcio.com

Shell and Bones Oyster Bar (100 S. Water St.)-All manner of seafood and steak, with a bit of chicken and pasta thrown in for good measure. Everyone will be able to find something here, no worries. With a fabulous view of the water and a waft of the sweet salty breezes, dive into their Harbor Sampler or the Tower of Shells, with lobsters, clams, oysters, shrimp. Chowders, raw bar, salads round things out, along with sides like roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Artisanal Cheese and Charcuterie Boards to keep all mouths drooling. www.shellandbones.com


Figs Wood Fired Bistro (105 Church Hill Rd.)-Lots of variety on this lengthy menu (including, of course, a Roasted Fig Pizza) with everything from their Open Face Lobster Crab roll to Pomegranate Short Ribs. Enjoy lunch or dinner outside under several umbrella-ed tables this season on their terrace. Wood-fired makes everything taste better, doesn’t it? www.figswoodfiredbistro.com

Foundry Kitchen and Tavern (1 Glen Rd., Sandy Hook)- Sit alongside a babbling brook and enjoy what the Foundry calls “elevated tavern food”. Go for lunch, dinner, and brunch and elevate yourself with dishes such as their Lobster Fritters, “Made Here” Charcuterie, Spicy Hangover Noodles, Smoked Brisket French Dip, Organic Chicken Milanese, and Bahn Mi. They even hold a “Teacher Decompression Hour” on Thursday nights. www.foundrykitchenandtavern.com


Banc House (16 River St.)-BBQ and Crab, that’s what the BanC house is all about. Open for lunch and dinner, you can get your Southern on stretching from Maryland to the Delta. Blue crab claws (and accompanying mallot), raw bar treats, Spicy Shrimp Tacos, Atlantic Salmon BLTs, Ribs, Pulled Pork, Shrimp and Grits, Southern Fried Chicken, they’ve got it all here. So dine outside in the warm weather and get that bib. www.bjryans.com

Bar Sugo (102 Wall St.)-Simple Italian food (simply delicious!) for brunch and dinner. Lots of meatballs, cheeses, pizzas, Italian faves presented in new ways-”where modern Italian meets peasant food”. Smallish outdoor seating area compliments their small plates...but oh, ho, ho those flavors are as big as your Italian grandma’s hugs. www.barsugo.com

Burger Bistro Bar (60 N. Main St.)-Enjoy such bistro faves as *real* potato chips, stacked burgers (blue cheese...onions...), lobster sliders and a tall drinks. Small outdoor dining areas, lots of people watching, grab a bite before seeing a movie (cinema next door!). They have Happy hours, tabletop s’mores, trivia night, kid’s stuff. They even have a…get ready…doggie menu for your four-legged dining companions. www.burgerbarandbistro.com

Cask Republic (99 Washington St.)-Upscale comfort tavern fare with a bit of a global inspiration and an extensive beer, wine, bourbon/whiskey/scotch, and cocktail menu, to boot. Enjoy all of their dining godness on their flowered and welcoming patio. Meat and cheese boards, Bavarian soft pretzels, Smoked Short Rib Meatballs, salads, burger, their Lamb Pastrami Reuben, and Not Your Father’s Rootbeer Floats for dessert. Go with an appetite. www.caskrepublic.com

El Segundo (3 N Water St.) Globally inspired street food from the owners of The Spread with a vibrant bar scene and graffiti adorned interior. El Segundo is always a party and features a fully equipped outdoor bar and jukebox to enjoy those summer nights. Menu items include tacos, arepas, Asian noodles, and poutine...not to mention some killer cocktails. www.elsegundosono.com

Estia’s (88 Washington St.)-Open for lunch and dinner, enjoy a quick trip to the Greek Isles. The Katsikisio (goat cheese baked with honey, almonds, and apricots) is worth the trip alone. Go for a generous entree or several appetizers, but go early if you want to eat outside-they only have a few tables. www.estiagreekrestaurant.com

Harbor Lights (82 Seaview Ave.)-Nothing says summer like seafood and overlooking a harbor while you enjoy it. Strangely enough, here you can feel like you are outside without actually being outside, as their wall of windows overlooks the harbor and sits just a few feet from it. They do have a patio, too, though, if you like the wind in your hair. Raw bar items and plenty of offerings from the sea. www.harborlightsrestaurant-ct.com

Harlan Public (127 Washington St.) Harlan Publick is situated in the SoNo Ironworks and has become 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. Enjoy a Caribbean inspired menu that is sure to please. www.harlanpublick.com

The Spread (70 N. Main St.). Situated in SoNo, this industrial rustic fave offers up homey foods with international influences. There is a nice handful of outdoor seating for you to enjoy small plates, medium plates and large plates of their seasonally driven delights such as fois gras, black truffle risotto balls or seared lamb saddle ...and find out which fits you juuuuust right, Goldilocks. And pssst...on weekends, their bar stays open late (a rarity around here! woot!). www.thespreadsono.com/

Mama’s Boy Southern Table and Refuge (19 N. Water St.)- “Come, sit, eat” they say at this Southern bistro. Hunker down to some grits, your Deviled Eggs, and Fried Green Tomatoes and enjoy slowing down time, Southern-style y’all,  at their outdoor seating area, right next to the Maritime Aquarium. Plenty of space, plenty of salty breezes, plenty of sweet tea flowing during brunch, lunch, dinner, and supper. www.mamasboyct.com

Match (98 Washington St.)-Nibbles, cravings both big and small along with good things fresh from the farm and sea to round things out. Carpetbaggers, Osso Bucco, the Match Burger (Thursday night is the only night you can get it)-there is no Match for Match! Come by and see their newly redesigned space. Outdoor tables will be available as soon as the weather warms, hopefully soon! www.matchsono.com

Mediterraneo (353 Main Ave.)-Perched so that diners can view the rambling river and waterfall below, Mediterraneo offers up seafood dishes and specialty pizzas to entice for lunch and dinner. The roof top will be open this year to the public from 4 pm till sundown...bar, raw bar and reggae on Sundays.http://www.zhospitalitygroup.com/mediterraneonorwalk/food-and-wine.php

Oak + Almond (544 Main Ave.)-Go for lunch, dinner or late night and sit under the twinkled trees on their roomy patio. They use many locally-sourced ingredients at this modern yet homey progressive farm-to-table establishment. Enjoy wood-roasted Shishito Peppers, Oysters Rockefeller, Kale and Farro salad, local grass fed meats, various flatbreads and pasta dishes. They serve lunch, dinner, brunch, have a large “drink book” (organic wines, too!) and also a kids’ and gluten-free menu. www.oakandalmond.com

Overton’s (80 Seaview Ave.)-Classic clam shack goods, along with burgers and hot dogs. Top it all off with a chocolate shake and you’ve got the ultimate sit-by-the-dock-of-the-bay lunch. Picnic table seating overlooking Norwalk Harbor. Can someone say Clam Bellie dinner?!! www.overtons-seafood.com

The Restaurant at Rowayton Seafood (89 Rowayton Ave.)-Super-fresh seafood here (Rowayton Seafood is next door, supplying the restaurant)-they have even partnered with the Monterey Bay Aquarium and the Seafood Watch Program to make sure they are serving sustainable options. Raw bar, chowders, fried, grilled-every variation for lunch, dinner, and brunch. If arriving by sea, docking is available. Dock and dine, baby. www.rowaytonseafood.com

Sails Bar and Grill (148 Rowayton Ave.)-A bit of Nantucket on the mainland for brunch, lunch and dinner. Cute, white-picket fence surrounded outdoor patio. Stuffed Quahogs, “indulgent” mac and cheese with crispy pork belly and “fry bowls”...feta fries, truffle fries, gravy fries. Be sure to wear your Nantucket reds. www.sailsamericangrill.com

Sunset Grille (52 Calf Pasture Beach Rd.)-Buried beyond the boats and near the beach, enjoy summer seafood eats out on a deck at the perfect time...sunset. You’ll love it and wish that every night could be a summer evening. Classic by-the-beach fare-chowder, fish and chips, grilled sword. Opens April 17th. www.sunsetgrille.net

Valencia Luncheria (164 Main St.)-Venezuelan beach food...in...Norwalk. Go figure. All things tropical for breakfast, lunch, and dinner! Put your feet in the sand (really) and dine alfresco on arepas, ceviche, tortilla wraps, rice and beans, empanadas, burritos with tiki torches and picnic tables. www.valencialuncheria.com

Washington Prime (141 Washington Street) Washington Prime has the "prime" corner at the intersection of Washington Street and Water Street in downtown South Norwalk, with tons of great outdoor seating. The land and sea menu is a bit of Americana with cross-cultural influences. They offer an excellent weekend brunch, and have a dynamic staff and vibrant bar scene. 


Bailey’s Backyard (23 Bailey Ave.)- Intimate, cozy, rustic but modern.Farm-to-table food lunches, brunches, and dinners. Menus revolve with the seasons, as they rely on the freshest ingredients, many of them local. How about Roasted Spring Rainbow Carrot Salad, Blue Crab Bisque, Bourbon Brisket Ramen, Cioppino, or a Cheddar and Ale Burger? They have several tables out front for eating al fresco and when nights are chilly, they offer blankets for your dining comfort. www.baileysbackyard.com

Bernard’s/Sarah’s Wine Bar (20 West Lane)- Offering a bistro menu, there is live music and a relaxed atmosphere up on the roof-enjoy it all on a warm summer evening. Smoked Salmon, soups, Warm Goat Cheese salad, charcuterie and pates, risotto, burgers, steaks, specialty coffees, desserts and plennnnnty of wine. www.bernardsridgefield.com

Luc’s Cafe (3 Big Shop Lane)-They have lovely flowered terrace, just outside the open doors of the restaurant where you can wile away the afternoon pretending you are in the South of France. Vichyssoise, Les Moules (mussels), charcuterie, French Onion Soup, special quiches, Escargots, Cassoulet. Enjoy your trip to France without traveling that far. www.lucscafe.com

TerraSole (3 Big Shop Lane)-Rustic and charming, a taste of the Italian countryside…complete with a piazza and a sidewalk cafe. Offering 200 wines by the bottle and 20 by the glass, as well as housemate ‘Cello (with flavors Limoncello, Meloncello, and Espresso-Chocolate Cello) which is the perfect accompaniment to a hot day. Pick at meats and cheeses, homemade pastas and fresh salads, including Panzanella with imported Truffle Burrata. www.terrasoleridgefield.com


Artisan (275 Old Post Rd.)-They get the award for squeezing the most twinkly lights and fire sources into one gorgeous space. You’ll never want to leave. An extensive wine list and Americana cuisine that is rounded-out with local ingredients will please and keep you hanging out by the fires. www.artisansouthport.com


Boothbay Lobster Co. (14 Harbor Point Rd.)-Straight from Maine and wicked good. If you are from New England, you realize what that word “wicked” implied when it comes to food. Their seafood is farmed sustainably and from “environmentally responsible harvesters”, making those oysters, shrimp, lobster bisque and lobster roll, fish, and mussels taste even better. www.boothbaylobster.com

Crab Shell (46 Southfield Ave.)-Arrive by boat and moor at the restaurant dedicated boat slips (nice!) or sit on the patio and watch the harbor…what better way to sip a glass of wine or a cocktail while you dunk lobsters into butter, sink your teeth into a soft shell crab, savor Rainbow Trout Almandine or a Pesto Crusted Mahi, all the while listening to live music. Life is good, isn’t it? www.crabshell.com

F.I.S.H (245 Bedford Street) - Brought to you by the owners of Quattro Pazzi and Osianna, F.I.S.H. is the newest addition to al fresco dining on Bedford St. Whether it be their raw bar selections, their Naked Fish Dinner or Brunch (hey now!), Bouillabaisse or Stuffed Shrimp, there will be no wondering why they named the restaurant what they did. Note: There's also a Naked French Cut Chicken and a Naked Grilled Filet Mignon. We’re seeing a theme beside FISH. www.fishstamford.com/

Fortina (120 Washington Blvd.)-Tip: When the hours say “12pm-all night long”, you know you’re in for some serious fun. Classic, yet hip, Italian food (pizzas, pastas, lots of prosciutto) prepared in wood-fired ovens. Serving brunch, lunch, and dinner…and summer nights are for the Surf Club roof deck! They’ve got your Fried Meatballs, your Luigi Bianco pizza (a truffle concoction that mere words fail to describe), your Pork Braciole Sandwich and much more, served up with giant dose of spirt. www.fortinapizza.com

Harlan Social (121 Towne Street) -The concept at this Harbor Point favorite is "American Gastropub," a New York style array of charcuterie boards, artisan cheeses, entrees (Housemade Truffle Gnocchi or Crispy Pig Ear Salad, anyone?), all seemingly familiar to the local palate, but flavored with intriguing surprises. Comfortable and elegant outdoor seating can be found for brunch, lunch and dinner. Note: The Harlan burger is not to be missed. www.harlansocial.com/

Sign of the Whale (6 Harbor Point Rd.) Late hours, acoustic Thursdays, food and drink specials on their gastro-pub style menu. Pizzas, tacos, crab cakes, raw bar, soups and salads, burgers and heftier platters will be all the more enjoyable at this 10,000 square-foot restaurant and bar (dare we say it’s as big as a….). Nightly parties ensue at Stamford’s only rooftop bar! www.signofthewhalect.com


Knapp's Landing (520 Sniffens Ln)-When enjoying one of the best views in CT, stick to the “King Lobster Roll.” Chunks of butter-poached claw and tail meat nestled on a grilled soft roll. It’s also the heftiest roll along the coast. They also have burgers, pastas, chicken dishes and salads. Bites for all. Have a drink and soak up the view…and the butter. knappslanding.com/menu.html

Outriggers (555 Broad St.)- Sit dockside at Brewer’s Marina on the Housatonic River at their sizable outside deck or saddle up to the Buoy Bar where lunch and dinner is served. Lots of seafood options-chowder, Mahi Mahi Chili, Blackened Scallops, Tuna Teriyaki Wraps and more. You can also build your own burger, or go with fresh salads and pasta dishes. Gluten-free options available. www.outriggersrestaurant.com


Amis Trattoria (1 Church Lane)-It might be on a tiny side street in downtown Westport, but it might as well be on a tine side street in Rome. Eggplant Caponata, Salumi plates, Baked Pecorino with almond honey, Octopus with spring onions, Ribs and Rhubarb, Roasted Rib Shoulder and Mom’s rice pudding or Chocolate and Hazelnut Semifreddo for dessert. That’s a Roman holiday, for sure. www.amistrattoria.com

Bartaco (20 Wilton Rd. also Stamford and Portchester)-Beachy goodness on the shores of the Saugatuck-well, there’s a surprise. Enjoy the unique tacos (wild boar, fried oyster, falafel, duck and more) “not tacos” such as Tuna Poke, Mushroom Mole Tamale, and Pork Posole, all the while dining on their river-side deck. Finish off your laid-back, tropical interlude off with a chocolate tamale or Key Lime Pie in a Jar.  www.bartaco.com

Jesup Hall (90 Post Rd. E)-Located in the old Town Hall, Jesup Hall serves up nostalgic food…burgers, big salads, everyday roasts, soups, and lest we forget the Popovers with Coffee Butter and Ham (when was the last time you had one of those?). Ingredients are sourced locally and the bar harkens back to Prohibition era with old-styled drinks, such as the Perfect Manhattan, Gimlets, and Whiskey Sours. Linger on their patio while you sip a time-honored cocktail. www.jesuphallwestport.com

Kawa Ni (19 Bridge Square)- We are huge fans of this cozy contemporary Japanese izakaya joint with creative shareable plates and a full ramen menu. Sake bombs and craft cocktails can be enjoyed at both lunch and dinner down in the main dining room, or up a somewhat "backdoor" staircase to a beautiful patio overlooking the Saugatuck River. We're hoping this spot stay a little bit "secret." www.kawaniwestport.com

Little Barn (1050 Post Rd.)-You’re in a barn, looking out at flowers, sitting by a firepit. And yet, you’re on the Post Road. Who woulda thunk? Head to the little barn for casual, good food that is family friendly and relaxed; Guinness Beef Chili, Spicy Poppers, all sorts of burgers, tacos, Chicken Pot Pie, Baby Back Ribs and a large drink menu with beers, cocktails, martinis, and wines. www.littlebarnct.com

Rive Bistro (299 Riverside Ave.)-A bit of France alongside the sweet Saugatuck and plenty of tables underneath their striped awning. Put your imagination to work and it will be the Rhone, lights dancing on the water and all. When you are craving some Croque-Monsieur, some moules frites provencal or a salad nicoise, head here-tout de suite! www.rivebistro.com

The Spotted Horse Tavern (26-28 Church Lane)-Located in an historic house down a cozy lane yet surprisingly smack in the middle of Westport is this hoppin’ spot. Colonial and modern all at the same time, it’s got a fun and cozy atmosphere. Dive into their lobster rolls, Old-School Chicken Parm, Steak and Eggs, Apple Pie French Toast, Vegetarian Spring Rolls…a little spot of everything. www.spottedhorsect.com

The Pearl At Longshore (260 Compo Rd S) Pearl at Longshore focused on seasonally inspired, sophisticated American cuisine. Nestled on the scenic coastline at Westport’s historic Longshore Club Park, Pearl offers one of the most stunning views in the area and is a meeting place for the community to eat, drink, relax and enjoy all year round.  www.pearlatlongshore.com

The Whelk (575 Riverside Ave.)-Overlooking the quaint Saugatuck River, The Whelk brings sustainable, local seafood and ingredients to the lips of its diners in the glorious way that only The Whelk can. Caviar, oysters, clams, and don’t forget the crispy fried pigs tails, Green Goddess Deviled Eggs, Salt and Pepper Squid Scallop Crudo, Lamb Belly Ribs….the list goes on. And on. And on.www.thewhelkwestport.com