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Chef Emily Mingrone Opening Tavern on State, A Classic American Tavern, in New Haven

Restaurant Openings New Haven American Lunch

Stephanie Webster

Chef Emily Mingrone (of Fleisher’s, Match & Jesup Hall) is turning a long time dream into reality with the upcoming opening of her own restaurant, Tavern On State. Tavern On State will be a classic American tavern with a modern twist, located in the East Rock, New Haven, neighborhood. Mingrone had been working on this project for years, but she couldn’t find the right location. When her old drinking haunt, Cojones, became available, she knew it was meant to be.

“I’ve learned so much working with Chefs Storch and Taibe, and I’m so grateful for those experiences,” says Mingrone. Now it’s HER time. We are thrilled to see another female chef in the Connecticut restaurant scene, and we are excited to see what this seasoned chef has in store for us.

Speaking with Mingrone, she describes Tavern on State as having a “simple concept in menu and design.” “One of my biggest frustrations as a consumer is sometimes you just want a really good steak or delicious shrimp cocktail, and there is no place to get really great classic American fare. At Tavern On State, I want to make simple flavor focused, properly made tavern food.”  Think oysters on the half shell, but garnished with yuzu vs mignonette; interesting versions of the classic shrimp cocktail, grilled octopus, burgers, and sexy steaks.

Prime Stamford Launches New Seasonal Spring Menu (Alongside Waterfront Dining) (sponsored post)

Restaurant Stamford American Seafood Cocktails Outdoor Dining Waterfront

Jessica Ryan

Spring is always a welcome thing, but as part of the CTBites team it also means that a trip to Prime Stamford is in order to check out their spring offerings and we are always eager to see what magic Chef Julio Geno has up his sleeve. As we waited to get a sampling of the Easter Menu we sipped some of the restaurant’s most popular choices, the Babylon Express, made from Crop cucumber vodka, St. Germaine, lime and pineapple juices, the Pineapple Mojito and the Passion Cosmo, made from passion vodka, passion fruit purée, triple sec and lime and cranberry juices. 

Chef Dan Kardos Launches Flaco Taco Truck...$4 Menu (+ Lobster Roll)

Restaurant Food Truck Mexican Tacos Lobster Openings Homepage

Stephanie Webster

Chef Dan Kardos (Liberty Rock Tavern, Oar & Oak) is rolling out something new for CT taco (and lobster) lovers. Kardos has bought himself another truck, and this time we’re talking tacos. Flaco Taco is the name, and Kardos is in the process of getting it ready for the summer season. The truck will be serving up $4 tacos and some tasty sides…but wait, there’s more…there will also be an epically delicious $24 Lobster roll (ya know…just ‘cuz).

Let’s talk about them tacos. CTbites have seen a preliminary menu, and Kardos admits things may change by June, but here is the basic situation. Tacos range from Crispy Fish with spicy slaw and lime, to Southern Fried Chicken with buttermilk ranch, and Braised Beef Shank with spicy tahini. Yes please. Sides will likely include classics such as street corn, Guac’ and his famous watermelon and cucumber salad (think Liberty Rock Truck).

BLT Bridgestreet Libations & Temptations: NOT a Sandwich Joint

Restaurant New Hartford Hartford Burgers Sandwich Lunch Homepage

Kristin L. Wolfe

Happy Birthday to You, Happy Birthday to You, Happy Birthday B L TTTT, Happy Birthday to You. Guess who’s been on the block for a year already?

Ok, close your eyes. When I say Willy Wonka, what do you see? I see Gene Wilder’s crazy hair and wild eyes, amidst the bright colors of the funky psychedelic clothes of the 60s and 70s. Well, beyond that, Willy Wonka represents a fantasy where all your favorite things appear right before your eyes and everything flavorful is heightened to the nth degree. Am I right? Well, this is a little of what is in store for you at Chef Jim Casey’s haven, BLT (Bridgestreet, Libations & Temptations). It’s a mouthful of a name, but this place is worth your time, money, and palate. The casual brick exterior and extra low key vibe inside is a facade for the eating extravaganza you encounter on your plate. 

Mama Chow Asian Street Food Opens in Southport...And It's Delicious!

Restaurant Asian Vietnamese Japanese Openings Southport Homepage

Andrew Dominick

Something I struggle with living in Norwalk is having a go-to Asian spot for a quick lunch or affordable takeout. There are plenty of neighborhood Chinese restaurants but they’re mostly mediocre, and I haven’t liked any of them since Red Bean sold their business. Ever since they took their American General Tso’s chicken (and actual Asian specialties) out of my life, I’ve been lost, searching for something halfway decent, even branching out to nearby towns out of desperation.

Cue a Southport newbie, Mama Chow, that’s been open for barely three weeks. I heard about it from CTbites Boss Lady, Stephanie Webster, who sang its praises and insisted I try it. Damn, was she ever on the money with this one. 

Mama Chow is a fast-casual Asian street food concept featuring popular grub from Malaysia, Japan, and Vietnam.

Conspiracy Cocktail Bar in Middletown Gets a Sustainable Ramen Menu via CT Magazine

Restaurant Ramen Asian Middletown Noodles Cocktails Bar

Connecticut Magazine

Exciting Ramen news from Connecticut Magazine

The tables and chairs were not designed with eating in mind and, through no fault of its own, Conspiracyis located more than an hour away from my house. Even so, I can’t wait to go back.

The reason?

One word: Ramen.

OK, three words: Ramen, cocktails and atmosphere.

Let’s start with the atmosphere. Conspiracy is undeniably cool. Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack cool. Accessible by an easy-to-miss doorway on Middletown’s Main Street, the second-floor space has the feeling of a secret club straight out of a film noir. Lounge chairs snake around an L-shaped room with painted-white brick walls. Edison bulbs hang from lofty ceilings, casting their warm light over a showstopping square bar. Behind the bar, bartenders twirl, mix and shake various liquids as they prepare alcoholic elixirs, often from historic recipes.

Mothership on Main Bakery and Cafe: Hidden Gem in Danbury

Restaurant Breakfast Lunch Bakery Dessert Danbury Catering Homepage

Kathleen Telesco 

The story of Mothership on Main Bakery in Danbury began eight years ago, after owner Anna Llanos had just finished treatment for cancer. Instead of applying for a job, “like a normal person,” she did what most of us would not dare to do in the easiest of times, she turned the Airstream trailer in her driveway into an espresso bar and bakery. After opening two more kitchens in commercial buildings in Danbury, she realized that she wanted to find a location where she could be a part of the larger community. This is how she eventually set up shop in a converted 1930s-era gas station on Main Street, where fans flock for breakfast, lunch, and all the baked goods they can eat in between.

Don't Miss Chef Jeff Taibe's Monthly Bushido Pop-Up Dinner at Taproot in Bethel

Restaurant Bethel Japanese Organic Local Artisan Sushi Pop-Up Dinner Homepage

Andrew Dominick

When Jeff Taibe opened Taproot in the second half of 2017, our Amy Kundrat summed up this Fairfield County gem beautifully. “Creative, seasonal, down-to-Earth, and hyper-local” (because damn near every ingredient comes from Connecticut farms) are all words she used. That summation is dead-on accurate. 

And yeah, you should run there. I wish I listened to her closing sentence and didn’t wait so long for a stellar culinary experience. Bethel isn’t THAT far, and Taproot is worth the drive. When I did go, I deserved the ribbing. “Hey, man! It only took you a f*cking year to get here!” Taibe joked. 

From the shareable, addictive apps, to carefully crafted cocktails, and braised pork cheeks that flaked apart with a slight twist of my fork, it was my favorite meal in Connecticut in 2018. 

All of the above is a well-deserved shout-out, but I’m not giving you a Taproot update. I’m dishing on the restaurant’s one-Sunday-per-month mood swing called “Bushido.” 

Bushido, as you can probably surmise, is a Japanese pop-up concept. The birth of Bushido is a story in itself. 

LuLu Chinese: Old World Chinese Flavors with Healthy Local Ingredients in Greenwich CT

Restaurant Greenwich Chinese Openings Homepage

Jessica Ryan

Back in 2015 I was invited to a new Chinese restaurant concept in Westchester by veteran restaurateur Jody Pennette. Skeptical as to how this type of cuisine could be different and better, I went. What I experienced was indeed that and more. Chinese food, I soon learned, could be delicious, even healthful, sticking to simple flavors and using organic ingredients while placing these dishes in the middle of a dynamic and upscale setting. 

Fast forward and I am invited to Greenwich to check out Pennette’s latest Chinese food adventure. Once again he pushes the envelope with another, though similar, take on this ethnic fare, bringing us LuLu Chinese with its lighter brighter versions.  

Hapa Food Truck Opens Restaurant at Decadent Ales Microbrewery

Restaurant Brewery Burgers Tacos Filipino Openings Hawaiian Homepage

Andrew Dominick

Over the past few years, Hapa Food Truck and chef/owner Chris Gonzalez have gained quite the following. I’m guilty of following up a few weightlifting sessions at Crunch Gym with a Hapa Burger or tacos when Gonzalez parked his trucked at the Priceline building. So, yes, I’m a fan just as much as all of you are. But every winter, Hapa goes into hibernation, leaving many of us yearning for warmer weather and his Filipino-Hawaiian inspired food. 

Well, friends, you don’t have to wait for spring and tracking Hapa down just got a whole lot easier. Gonzalez now has a physical Hapa location in Mamaroneck’s new microbrewery, Decadent Ales inside of the popular craft beer store, Half Time

Sneak Peek: Two Roads Brewing Opening $15 million "Area Two" Expansion, March 11th

Restaurant Features Openings Brewery Beer CT Beer

James Gribbon

I love taking people to the tasting room at Two Roads for the first time and showing them all the history you can touch in the place. Feel how the wooden floor is worn down here? This is where decades of workers had to walk to get between the machines of the factory. Look and you can see some of the machines they built and used, just off from the giant mash tuns which rise up through the floor behind the glass. The wooden floor they cut out for the tuns got chopped into pucks and laid down as the bar surface we're leaning on now. Cool, right? The building next door, Two Roads' 25,000 square foot, $15 million dollar expansion, Area Two, is brand new - but it already has plenty of stories to tell.

Area Two will open to the public on Monday, March 11. The new facility is a short walk across the hop yard from the mothership brewery, on the same side of the street. The focus of Area Two is the production of wild, sour, and spontaneously fermented beers. 

Foundry Kitchen and Tavern: Chef Neugold's Sandy Hook Gem

Restaurant Sandy Hook Comfort Food American Lunch Bar Cocktails Homepage

Kristin L. Wolfe

The historic corner waterfront property in the quaint village of Sandy Hook along the Pootatuck River has seen numerous habitants, but we think the current reign causing a stir at the Foundry Kitchen and Tavern are here to stay. Chef Clark Neugold and his magical crew are bringing lots o’ tasty vibes to hungry diners and we are eternally grateful.

An old foundry is quite likely the best place to spy upon all things shiny  and the crew at the Foundry thought so too. The decor is what I like to call “dressed up rustic” with sturdy wood tables and chairs, exposed brick, and plenty of historic metal pieces from the original building circa 1857. Not to mention the metal plated ceiling that glistens when hit by candlelight. I daresay, this is what defined my first (and second, and third) “moment” at the Foundry.

Some people are afraid of change. Not Chef Neugold. Much of his career has been about creating, inventing, and trying new places and flavors. From Connecticut to Hawaii to Charleston, then back again, his very raison d’etre is to experiment, try new things, but commit to quality and great presentation. And, he hopes to do so in a welcoming  environment with diners eager to know what’s new instead of expecting the same ol’ menu week after week.  With that in mind, eaters at the Foundry will pick up exciting Pacific Asian notes he learned from his time working with chef of television fame Lee Anne Wong (Top Chef, Iron Chef, and Unique Eats) at her restaurant Koko Head Cafe in Hawaii; or, close their eyes in pleasure when tasting Southern fare inspired by Neugold’s time with world renown BBQ Master Rodney Scott.  

Brunching—Minus the Burger—at Harlan Publick in South Norwalk

Restaurant Burgers Brunch Breakfast Stamford

Andrew Dominick

The burger at Harlan Publick is always the right move. You know, the one on the Wave Hill Breads English muffin, with the sweet, salty bacon jam, and the cheddar ale sauce that drips down the plump brisket blend patty. No one would blame you if you ordered it every damn time. It’s that good and should be mentioned amongst Connecticut’s best burgers. 

Spoiler: Harlan Publick is more than just a burger. I knew this, but it was still tough to look past. Even when I went for dinner and ordered something else, I still thought about the Harlan Burger. I felt guilty. It felt like cheating. And it’s not that the food wasn’t good, it was! Fact is, I’ve never had a bad experience at any of the Harlan restaurants. 

I’ll continue to blame the burger for clouding up all my Harlan experiences, including Sundays, because that’s a thing, a thing I overlooked every time I had brunch in South Norwalk. When Harlan Publick reached out to CTbites with a brunch invite, I jumped all over it. SoNo’s my ‘hood and I needed to know if I could get over their burger or at least forget about it for one freaking visit. 

Best Wings in Stamford? The People Have Spoken (via Hey Stamford!)

Restaurant Best of CT

Hey Stamford!

A few weeks ago, Hey Stamford! took to the streets, (and social media) to find out the source for the Best Wings in Stamford. If you’re a wing lover, you’ll want to read this…

Spicy, dry rubbed, Jerk, or Grilled … any way, we love wings! Drenched in sauce or dry-rubbed with spices, chicken wings are the ultimate finger food that begs to be eaten in extremely large amounts — preferably with your favorite beer in hand.  

Now when you’re talking about wings, the question always begins, “Who has the best wings in Stamford”?  It’s actually a question we get asked a lot and though we have our favorites … this time we went to the people. 

The Meatball Shop of NYC & DC is Opening in Westport!

Restaurant Italian Westport Openings Homepage

Stephanie Webster

Westport’s “cool” factor just went up X10. We found out that The Meatball Shop, of NYC and DC fame, is opening in Westport! Cue the celebratory music. Founded by childhood best friends, Daniel Holzman and Michael Chernow, The Meatball Shop opened their first location on The Lower Side in 2010. Since then they have expanded to six locations in NYC and opened their first location outside of this city this past fall in Washington DC. According to their job posting on Craigslist, they are bringing their Balls to Westport, CT this Spring! A reliable source tells us The Meatball Shop will be opening in the old PORT location next to Bartaco.

Their signature balls, go way beyond beef, and are highly customizable. If you haven’t sat down at one of their spots in NYC, the “Balls” menu allows guests to “Choose Your Ball” and then “Pick Your Sauce,” either naked or as a bowl. We’re not talking about beef vs chicken here. Options include: Gluten Free Chicken, Classic, Spicy Heritage Pork, Veggie, Salmon…and even a Maine Lobster. Featured toppings include: Tomato, Parmesan Cream, Spicy Meat, Pesto, Yogurt Dill (to pair with the salmon) and even a Lemon Butter for the lobster. This is ball heaven.

Ignazio's Pizza (From Brooklyn) Opening in Old Bertucci's Spot in Westport

Restaurant Openings Italian Pizza Lunch Westport

Stephanie Webster

There’s a new pizza joint opening in Westport. “Ignazio’s Pizza will be moving into the former Bertucci’s on the Post Road in Westport. This will be the 2nd location for this thin-crust pizza establishment. The original location is in DUMBO right underneath the Brooklyn Bridge, adjacent to the famous Grimaldi’s and Juliana’s.

The Westport spot may be slightly less scenic than that of DUMBO, but will continue the Ignazio’s tradition of thin crust pies, or “signature round pies.'“ They will also be serving up a slightly thicker crust square pizza, the “Siciliana.” In addition to the pizza menu (which is extensive), they have a full Italian menu featuring dishes including: Estelle`s Meatballs, Baked Anchovies, a Chicory Salad, pasta favorites like Manicotti as well as Calzone.

Westport loves their Italian joints, so bring it on Ignazio’s.

Guide to Gluten Free Dining in Connecticut Via Gluten Free New England

Features Restaurant Gluten-Free Special Dietary Needs Specialty Market Best of CT Homepage

Gluten-Free New England

This comprehensive guide to gluten-free dining in Connecticut is brought to you by Abby Kelly, founder of Gluten-Free New England.

Connecticut has always been ahead of the curve when it comes to gluten-free dining. And, as the number of people avoiding gluten rises at record pace, the number of restaurants working to accommodate them is absolutely skyrocketing. Although this makes going out to eat really fun, it also makes the job of compiling a list of favorites really difficult. And so, we present to you some of our favorite restaurants offering excellent gluten-free options. If we missed one of your favorites, please add your spot to the comments section below.

Chef Matt Lambert Opens Hamilton Park in New Haven

Restaurant New Haven Openings

Amy Kundrat

New Haven can now claim a Michelin-starred chef among its culinary denizens. New Zealand native and Chef Matt Lambert, along with Barbara Lambert and Jennifer Vitagliano, are the team behind Hamilton Park, the city’s newest restaurant. A self-described “neo bistro” with a seafood emphasis, the menu also features house-made pastas, house-cured charcuterie, and a memorable cocktail program by Eben Freeman (formerly of wd~50).

Chef’s Table Returns To Westport in Old Christie's Location, (Via Dan Woog)

Restaurant Openings Breakfast Lunch Sandwich To-Go Comfort Food

CTbites Team

When Christie’s Country Store closed in December, a shiver went through the Cross Highway neighborhood.

The breakfast/sandwich/grill/grocery place had been around since 1926. It served nearby residents, Staples and Bedford students, and plenty of landscapers and workers nearby or passing through. But it was a non-conforming use, in a residential area. Now it was shut. These things don’t usually end well. Fortunately, this one does.

Chef’s Table is moving in. Rich Herzfeld will pick up right where John Hooper left off.

Birdman Juke Joint Opening In Bridgeport with Real Soul Food from Top Chef, Chris Scott

Restaurant Openings Bridgeport Comfort Food Celebrity Chef Southern Homepage

Kristin L. Wolfe

“It’s about the chicken…” says Chef Chris Scott (Top Chef Season 15), telling his new Connecticut fan base a story at his sold out Pop Up last Thursday night. And he’s about to knock nutmeggers socks off left and right with what he calls Real Soul Food, not the “gentrified” sort we’ve heard about or tasted before. There’s a story attached to the chicken, to the greens and black-eyed peas; there’s a story about the people who originally brought us the food. Real Soul Food is not just the celebrated dishes we’ve come to know and love. Chef wants everyone to understand the heritage behind this cuisine, and really hear about the ones who toiled long and hard for the meals we know as southern soul food. It’s time we learned about the Birdman; and Chef Scott is just the one to deliver the tale. He is passionate, he is immensely knowledgeable, he is experienced, and he just so happens to be one freakin’ amazing Chef.