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Ren Dumpling & Noodle House: Soup Dumplings & More in Wilton

Restaurant Norwalk Chinese Noodles Kid Friendly Delicious Dives Take Out Lunch Homepage

Nancy Kleeger

If you already have a bevy of Chinese menus with sauce stains in your house that no longer excite you, Ren Dumpling & Noodle House in Norwalk may just become your new “go to.”  Tucked in the corner of a vast shopping plaza in Wilton, Ren Dumpling & Noodle House seems to be far from overlooked.  This cozy and clean joint was bustling with hungry customers dining in and picking up takeaway.  

Full disclosure: I lived in Hong Kong for five years, therefore, with five years experience consuming copious amounts of dumplings under my belt, my curiosity was piqued although my expectations may have been skewed.  Ren isn’t all about the dumplings, however. In fact, the rest of the menu showcases an impressive amount of options you would see on most Chinese menus, with the addition of the odd Thai or Vietnamese dish or two, which seems to be standard these days.  


Top 100 Restaurants in CT for 2018

Restaurant Features Best of CT Homepage

Stephanie Webster

From Granby to Madison, Kent to Killingly, good eats abound in our beautiful Nutmeg State. It was our task for Hearst Publishing this year to determine the top of the heap, the creme de la creme and the cherries on top of this statewide sundae. So, after an abundance of hours honing in on the gems, we now offer to you our Top 100 restaurants in Connecticut! This list was created for our co-branded Top 100 Dining & Drinks guide we create for Hearst Media. The establishments on this list are not necessarily new, but they do happen to represent the very best CT has to offer for 2018. Our hope is that you enjoy exploring new flavors, maybe discover a new corner of the state that you haven’t visited before, and make memories with new culinary experiences. And hey, please add your favorites in the comment section if they don’t happen to appear on this list. Connecticut is truly brimming with deliciousness.

Note: Limiting this list to 100 was challenging for the team. We lacked the bandwidth to include all of our favorite “delicious dives: and “hidden gems,” but you can find those on CTbites.com.


The Social Craft Beer Bar & Kitchen in New London: 50 Hyper-local Craft Beers on Draft

Restaurant New London Beer CT Beer Bar Comfort Food Pub

Elizabeth Georgian

Sick of the same old greasy bar food consumed with flavorless big beer brands while out with colleagues or friends on Friday night? Me too. Skip the ho-hum bar and head directly to The Social, a relatively new spot on Bank Street in New London. Providing a new and much needed hang-out spot, the Social gives diners great food, a family-friendly atmosphere, and an extensive beer list; it definitely knocks it out of the park as a new place to spend Fridays after work or Saturday evenings with family or friends.

Largest Selection of Craft Beers on Draft in Southeast CT

The Social has selected hyper-local, local, regional, and U.S. beers, serving a whopping 50 on draft.


Roost Opens in Hamden: It's All About The Chicken Sandwich (Gluten Free) & More

Restaurant Take Out Kid Friendly Lunch Fast Casual Hamden Openings Sandwich

CTbites Team

A sous vide chicken sandwich is a minor detail, but the minor details make major taste differences - and that makes all the difference for your customers. That's what Roost believes. Completely locally owned and operated, the menu starts with the chicken sandwich - but with several twists: starting with a unique sous vide cooking technique which creates an incredibly juicy on the inside, crunchy on the outside sandwich, and continues with a variety of unique toppings from Napa Cabbage Slaw to Carolina Reaper Pepper Buffalo Sauce that you won't see at just any fast casual restaurant.


Brick Walk Tavern Opens in Fairfield from Chef David Snyder

Restaurant American Fairfield Lunch Openings Homepage

Jessica Ryan

Fairfielders were very disappointed when they learned that The Original Bagel King had closed its doors at its Brick Walk location. Brick Walk Tavern now occupies the space along with the former restaurant next door and is being very well received by locals. The restaurant opened by Chef David Snyder and former financial executive and Fairfield resident Ted Vincent offer guests what they describe as “food with integrity” – high-end options that are approachable and familiar as well as those that might be seen as pushing the envelope slightly. The atmosphere inside upscale yet casual. A long bar at the back has a midcentury modern vibe, while the leather couch in front of the fireplace offers the coziness and quaintness of an historic New England town.


CT Sweet Spots For Hot Chocolate That Will Warm You Up via CT Magazine

Restaurant Features Best of CT Dessert Chocolate Homepage

Kristin L. Wolfe

You may recognize this byline from CTbites, but this sweet reporting by Kristin L. Wolfe rounds up a list of the best spots in CT for Hot Chocolate, via Connecticut Magazine.

When the temperature drops and you’ve reached your quota for coffee or tea for the day, hot chocolate may just be your answer. And, although it won’t remove the stresses from your life, it will warm the belly and light up the kid within. 

I recently satisfied my sweet tooth at many spots around the state that are pretty proud of their hot (and cold) chocolate delights. After you’ve read through the rundown, be sure to chime in with any other places that offer delectable, drinkable chocolate creations.

Rumors Coffeehouse

Although coffee courses throughout this cozy nook, where you can play Scrabble, grab a quirky mug, and cuddle up on a couch, you’d be surprised by the hot chocolate offerings. Their Mexican hot cocoa surprises with a spicy zing, while the tropical hints from the coconut hot cocoa remind you of summer despite the chill outside. The Campfire is an especially fun treat in which the marshmallows on top are torched to a perfect bonfire char. 22 Mill Plain Road, Danbury, 203-942-2653, facebook.com/rumorsofdanbury

Le Rouge Handmade Chocolates & Cakes by Aarti

Get ready for the Rolls-Royce of chocolate. In every way you can imagine, your senses will reach their peak at this gorgeous sweet boutique. With sleek red cases and black-and-white, polka-dotted packaging, this shop tucked away in a plaza is a tiny amusement park for chocolate fans. Le Rouge’s hot chocolate treats are not for the faint of heart. From a rich, dark blend topped with a piece of their signature polka-dotted chocolate that melts into the drink, to a white chocolate with dried raspberries or rose petals — yes, rose petals — these drinks are fancy and an experience. Chocolatier and owner Aarti Khosla even offers white chocolate with saffron and pistachios. 190 Main St., Westport, 203-293-6106, lerougebyaarti.com


Zaragoza Tapas Bar: Excellent Tapas & Award Winning Cocktails in New Milford

Restaurant Milford Tapas Lunch Spanish Mediterranean Homepage

Kristin L. Wolfe

Zaragoza’s tapas bar opened in New Milford in April 2016. The CTBites crew covered them a few months before their official opening and shared owner Artie Praino’s anticipation of a long-time dream come true after years in the deli business. Now, two and a half years later, they are a much beloved, popular spot for delicious, creative plates and cocktails.

Fully informed by several Zaragoza regulars that I was sure to be delighted, my belly gurgled for a new tapas experience. I’ve had the pleasure of going to Spain a few times, so, admittedly, morsels from those adventures like ceviche, calamari, and chorizo propelled me to the restaurant with little hesitation. I was eager to taste what their twist on the classics would be.


Holiday Afternoon Tea at the Bee and Thistle Inn Through Jan. 5th

Restaurant Holiday Tea And Coffee Events

Elizabeth Georgian

Treat your loved ones or take time for yourself this holiday season by making reservations for a really special, festive event at the Bee and Thistle Inn in Old Lyme—their annual Holiday Afternoon Tea. The quaint Bee and Thistle Inn is quintessential coastal Connecticut in its interior decor and is a recommended place to visit year-round. But during the short winter days, the Bee and Thistle Inn gets extra dolled up with holiday spirit, making it a memorable place to spend time with loved ones. This special tea is served from November 29th through January 5th.


Blackie’s Hot Dog Stand: Killer Dogs At This 90 Yr Old Roadside Dive

Restaurant Cheshire Hot Dogs Delicious Dives Kid Friendly Road Trip Burgers Comfort Food Homepage

Andrew Dominick

Lately, I’ve heard a lot about Blackie’s Hot Dog Stand, a roadside dive that’s been open for 90 years and counting. Blackie’s came up in casual conversation twice; the founder of this site, Stephanie Webster, heard about it from a friend, then a friend of mine mentioned it. Shortly thereafter, Visit Connecticut posted a list of “8 Classic Summer Drive-Ins” with Blackie’s being one of the featured haunts. Well, now I had to check it out. That’s no coincidence, that’s a sign! 


Bailey’s Backyard Offers NEW Market Table Tasting Menu (Wednesdays Only!)

Restaurant Ridgefield Farm to Table American Lunch Homepage

Jessica Ryan

For those of you who are unfamiliar with this charming eatery in the heart of Ridgefield, Bailey’s Backyard first opened its doors nearly 20 years ago as a neighborhood coffee shop before transforming itself into a charming American restaurant with a simple concept; offer exceptional seasonal cuisine in a cozy, relaxed atmosphere. It would soon become a neighborhood hot spot, offering locals a new dining experience.  Several years ago Bailey’s evolved once again and the restaurant is now a farm-to-table establishment with a mission to create a menu based on the freshest local sources. Today meat and produce are still gathered from nearby farms, both in New York and Connecticut, and Seafood is garnered from Connecticut, Massachusetts and the Chesapeake Bay. 

I was recently invited to sample Bailey’s new Market Table Tasting Menu offered every Wednesday night. A new menu is introduced each week, giving diners the opportunity to try something new each time. The menu is Prix Fixe, $40 for four courses or $65 for the four courses and a wine pairing. 


Rob VanKeuren’s Flour Water Salt Bread Opens in Darien

Restaurant Openings Darien Breakfast Bakery Local Artisan Homepage

Andrew Dominick

When I first covered Rob VanKeuren more than a year ago, I found him in the early morning hours baking countless loaves of bread and hundreds of croissants at Lombardi’s Trattoria in the Georgetown section of Wilton. 

A lot has changed since then. 

customers—over to a larger space at GrayBarns, where he sold loaves and pastries out of a barn.

Unfortunately for VanKeuren’s sourdough-obsessed following, his stint at GrayBarns was short-lived. As a result, his sought-after bread for public sale disappeared for a bit.

Some months after, VanKeuren announced something more exciting, plans to open a bakery of his own, right next door to NEAT in Downtown Darien. 

And now, it’s finally come to fruition. 


Donut Crazy Opens in West Hartford Today!

Restaurant West Hartford Hartford County Openings Doughnuts Breakfast Lunch

CTbites Team

Donut Crazy is happy to announce the opening of its newest location in West Hartford today. The store, located at 993 Farmington Avenue, offers all of Donut Crazy’s food and beverage items.

For those uninitiated into Donut Crazy’s world of over-the-top sugary doughnut confections, this location feels like a giant step forward both in selection and ambiance. All of their baked goods are made in-house in a Donut Crazy Kitchen by an overnight team of bakers. In West Hartford, Donut Crazy will offer its typical selection of “Dailies” and “Crazies.”


The Tasty Yolk Gourmet Breakfast Sandwich Truck Launches New Truck in Fairfield

Restaurant Food Truck Fairfield Breakfast Brunch Kid Friendly Openings

Stephanie Webster

The Tasty Yolk, gourmet breakfast sandwich truck, is excited to announce the opening of their third location at 1916 Post Rd in Fairfield. You can find them cooking up decadently delicious breakfast fare 6 days a week Tuesday - Sunday. They will be open from 7am-12pm Tuesday-Friday and 8am- 1pm Sat & Sunday,  (unless there is a private event to tend to). The truck will be parked right in front of the now closed Mrs. Greens Natural Market, on the southbound side of Post Road. Commuters can text in their orders to 203-726-6520.

The menu is small, but mighty.  Each sandwich includes two freshly cracked eggs with high quality fixings pressed inside- gourmet rifts on the bacon, egg, and cheese.  There is also $5 burrito and a griddled smashed potato side for $1. We are somewhat addicted.

Read CTbites’ full review for The Tasty Yolk here.


Prime Stamford Launches New Fall Menu: Waterfront Dining For Any Season (sponsored post)

Restaurant stam Seafood American Cocktails Waterfront Lunch Brunch

Jessica Ryan

This past spring, members of the CTBites team were invited to Prime to check out one of Stamford’s newest restaurants. We were immediately taken with the scenic water views, the casual yet sophisticated décor and, most importantly, the food. (Click HERE to read about that experience.) 

We were invited back a few weeks ago for a sneak peek at the fall menu, now available, created to reflect the flavors of the season. Regulars need not fret, your favorite dishes are likely still available, summer flavors and ingredients have simply been replaced with those readily available this time of year.


16 Places For Great Holiday Pies in CT (2018 Edition)

Restaurant Best of CT Pie Dessert Holiday Bakery Homepage

April Guilbault

Holiday season is heeeere, with its feasts and parties, and let’s be honest, you can’t really have too much pie, now can you? Note: with the brief exception of a kooky aunt who, after a post-Thanksgiving bout on the tread mill, did wearily proclaim “Too....Much....Pie!” but that’s another story for another time. So where to go for the best pies with the flakiest crusts, sweetest streusel toppings and the most flavorful fillings? We’ll be happy to tell you. Get those dessert plates ready and, um...you might want to loosen that belt.

Here are 16 places to buy great holiday pies in CT.


SoNo Baking Company & Café Opens in Southport

Restaurant Bakery Local Artisan Dessert Breakfast Lunch Brunch Coffee Tea And Coffee Southport Openings

Jessica Ryan

Welcome to the neighborhood SoNo Baking Company. We’re awfully glad you’re here! (Though my waistline may beg to differ.) 

SoNo Baking Company & Café officially opened its doors on Pequot Avenue in Southport today. Behind the glass display cases a beautiful array of cookies, tarts, pastries, cakes, and croissants all neatly arranged all ready to be purchased. Trays filled with delectable treats, fresh out of oven, were stacked and cooling. Brand new coffee and espresso machines glistened along the back wall.


"Teas" Your Palette with The Bubble & Brew Truck: Sweet Treats, Tea & Coffee

Restaurant Tea And Coffee Dessert Bakery Gluten-Free Food Truck

Kristin L. Wolfe

In August, I was swept away by a candy apple color of the Bubble & Brew truck at the Wilton Farmers Market adjacent the Historical Society. I was at the vegetable stand when directly across from me was the most beautiful striking flash of red. 

In addition to their impressive design aesthetic---their 37 tea canisters were painted red to match the truck--the Bubble & Brew team has serious baking chops. With sweet treats for every palette, tasters will be delighted by all the offerings from this tiny dream on wheels. People will be astounded by some of their best sellers like the sticky toffee pudding, which is actually gluten-free.


Il Pastaficio, Handmade Pasta, Opens in Cos Cob

Restaurant Pasta Noodles To-Go Take Out Italian Cos Cob Greenwich Openings Homepage

Jessica Ryan

It’s a known fact that Italians love their pasta. It’s also a known fact that they eat it regularly and yet it seems to be something we have become fearful of. As I sit down to write this I remember a popular commercial from my youth. In the North End of Boston, a dark haired Italian woman leans out of her window and beckons her son to come home. “Anthony!” she shouted, and he came running home – but only on Wednesdays, for Wednesday was Prince Spaghetti Day!  Today fad diets implore us to eat gluten-free, dairy-free, grain-free, carb-free, fat-free, etc. Enter Il Pastaficio, handmade pasta, in Cos Cob. Within weeks of opening locals have been rethinking and enjoying this Italian favorite. The reason is simple – as simple as their ingredients.

Il Pastaficio is unique in its offering of pastas made from natural and antique grains that are rich on minerals, salts and vitamins. This pasta, as a result, is lighter, easier to digest and has a lower glycemic level than the glutinous versions we’ve come to know. Their pastas are made from organic legume flours (such as chickpea) rich in protein and completely additive-free. As a result, Pastaficio pastas are easier to digest.