A while back we wrote about a special TV filming at the cult legend pizza of Connecticut: Colony Grill. At the time, all we knew that it was for a new show on a major network. Well, we’ve got the scoop for ya: Colony Grill of Stamford will be featured on a brand new Cooking Channel show called Pizza Cuz. The series premiere is May 6 and the Colony Grill episode will air Monday, May 13 at 9 pm on Cooking Channel. We’ll have more information about the show and the episode shortly, but in the meantime, check out the episode description:
Life’s kind of strange, isn’t it? Chef Bill Taibe who started LeFarm and The Whelk became very well known in Connecticut when he cooked at G/R/A/N/D in Stamford, he started his own spot called Relish Food & Wine, and especially when he took Napa & Company to new heights. When he left Napa in 2009, a chef named Arik Bensimon came in and took the reigns. He was a chef who had received major praise from his experiences at Le Cirque and Picholine in NYC and La Panetiere in Rye. LeFarm was born soon after. And, from day one, Executive Chef Arik Bensimon made a name for himself again at Napa & Company plating food with heart, soul, and reverence for local food. We were treated to an amazing dinner that Chef Arik prepared and we were really blown away…course after course. Then this past summer we found out that Chef Arik had left Napa & Co and we all wondered…what was he up to next? Well, he took Fairfield County by storm a second time by becoming Executive Chef at The Spread in Norwalk. Again, we had a meal there and we really loved Arik’s rich and hearty dishes that were sprinkled with simple complexity, and vowed to come back time and again.
And, now onto the life is strange part. Chef Arik Bensimon has left The Spread and is now Executive Chef at LeFarm in Westport, owned by Bill Taibe. We wish lots of great success to Arik and we’re so happy for him. He’s the kind of guy who deserves the best. Being Executive Chef at LeFarm, for him, will be a perfect match and can only push LeFarm to even greater culinary heights. Seriously…make your reservations now. You’re not going to be able to get in the door.
Our first (and awesome) experience with Dinosaur Bar-b-que in Stamford was their opening party where we were treated to a buffet of meats and side dishes. We were able to get a real taste of Dinosaur and were very impressed with everything. But, being the good little OmNomers we are, we wanted to make sure we came back (um, a few times) to try things without all the opening hoopla so we could get the real experience everyone else would get.
The first time we decided to hit up Dinosaur it was Friday night at 9:40, so we thought we’d have no problem getting in, but, alas, there was a 30 minute wait. Yeah, this place is hot so it was quite busy. We decided to head to the bar and were greeted by a perky and fun hostess who asked if we wanted to be seated right away in a “secret spot.’ Duh. She shuffled us off to a somewhat private dining area by the side of the bar. A hidden gem, so now you’re in the know…you’re welcome!
The service that night was excellent! The food came out quickly, our waitress was super attentive and friendly and the food was amazing as ever. Everything from the meats to the sides were seriously perfect! With two great experiences under our belt, we decided to go back twice over the holiday break with friends and family and our brand new fancy camera! YAY food porn! Through our 3rd and 4th gorge fest we discovered some new favorites, and the service was consistently impeccable, but we also were just a little disappointed by some of the dishes that we had previously liked. Here’s the rub:
Dinosaur Ape Hanger Ale: made for Dinosaur Bar-b-que by Middle Ages Brewery in Syracuse was just $5 a pint and was worth every penny. It was wheaty and that beautiful taste lingers with you for a bit after you drink. Goes great with BBQ and is super easy to drink!
Jumbo BBQ Chicken Wings: BEST chicken wings EVER and winner of best wings in our 2012 OmNomys! Seriously! These bad boys are smoked for four hours then they are grilled. There’s such a beautiful smokiness and char around these wings with just the right amount of sauce. Ah. You can get them in Wango Tango (hot), Garlic Chipotle (hotter), Devil’s Duel (hottest), and the mild Honey BBQ or Sesame Hoisin. Even the hottest of these sauces aren’t too much to handle, but will definitely leave a nice burn on your tongue. But then again, we’re tough like that.
Happy Fourth of July, Omnomivores! Whether you are celebrating by having a BBQ at home, checking out a movie, watching some fireworks, or just chilling, we hope you have a great one.
So, we’ve gotta give some major props to Napa & Co in Stamford. To begin, we were blown away by the dinner that Chef Arik Bensimon prepared for us during a blogger dinner. We’re also impressed with all the awards that they have stacked up over the past few weeks:
Weekly Best of Fairfield County Reader’s Poll, 2012
• Best Wine List
Best of Stamford, 2012
Napa & Co
Address: 75 Broad Street
Stamford, CT 06901
Phone: (203) 353-3319
You know the list of ingredients to choose from at Colony Grill:
Meatball, sausage, pepperoni, mushroom, onions, black olives, cherry peppers, stingers, hot oil, anchovies, peppers, and bacon.
Well, they’re adding a few more into the mix this Memorial Day, 5/28. At their Fairfield location on Post Road starting at 8:30 am, you’ll be able to get two new pies. You can either have the bacon & egg pie or the sausage & egg pie. Nothing says morning like a breakfast pizza!
Then, once you’ve had your fill, head outside to watch the parade that starts at 10. The parade will march along east down Post Road to the library, then head south and east down Old Post Road, passing Town Hall Green.
Don’t forget that Memorial Day isn’t just a day when you don’t have to go to work…it’s a day to remember and honor those who died fighting for us and our freedom. I’m very fortunate to still have my dad. As a Marine, he fought in Vietnam and earned two purple hearts. Oorah!
So, drive on down to Colony Grill in Fairfield, have one or more breakfast pizzas with your friends and family, then check out the parade together.
Address: 1520 Post Road
Fairfield, CT 06824
Phone: (203) 259-1989
We’d be willing to bet beaucoup bucks that if you asked anyone in Fairfield County that has a soft spot for local food (including us) what’s the best farm-to-table restaurant in our area, they’d tell you LeFarm in Westport without a second of hesitation. How could they not? Chef (and owner) Bill Taibe is a culinary God. A harvester of all things amazingly fresh from local farms and conjurer of uniquely delicious dishes that will seriously blow your mind.
Can you tell we heart him just a little? It does help that he puts some form of bacon on most of his dishes, but whatever.
So when we found out he was opening a seafood restaurant in Westport called The Whelk, we broke out into the most ridiculous happy dance you’ve ever seen. Could it be that Chef Taibe and his Executive Chef Dan Kardos (from Harvest Supper and Napa & Co.) were going to finally fill what we saw as a giant gapping hole in Fairfield County: a flawless seafood restaurant with a conscience? After being treated to a tasting at their friends and family opening, we can safely say the answer is MOST DEFINITELY YES!
As one would come to expect from the owner of LeFarm, the interior is tastefully decorated. It’s sort of a quaint hybrid of French Country and New England maritime with fresh white walls, beautiful wooden tables, flickering candles and unique, slightly industrial, slightly nautical light fixtures. There are intimate bench seats along the wall, two large communal tables and a ginormous bar perfect for sipping Bloody Marys while sucking down some oysters. Hear that @afarsun?
Speaking of oysters, let’s get down to the food. Mmm hmm. Unlike most restaurants, The Whelk does not categorize its dishes into appetizers and entrees. Instead, dishes are simply listed, generally in order of small plates to larger plates, though everything is smaller sized in general so you can sample lots of goodies from the sea. Love that! Depending on what’s fresh off the boat or what they’re able to source from sustainable only resources, the menu will feature creative twists on some of your favorite dishes, like oysters, po’ boys, lobster rolls and poutine. We love us some POUTINE (no it’s not dirty, you’ll see what it is if you don’t know)! And yes, there is a fantastic raw bar for those of you that like your seafood au naturale. There’s also a nice wine and beer list featuring some local gems and some fun concoctions created by our adorably bubbly waitress, Ingrid, like the T N Tea made with tequila, chamomile tea, thyme, simple syrup and fresh squeezed lemon. Danny ordered the Old Burnside Dirty Penny Ale, a toasty, full flavored black n’ tan, while I had a full-bodied 2009 Cotes-du-Rhone blanc that was a PERFECT pairing for the dishes I ordered. So let’s get to it:
If you know me at all by now, you’ll know I started with the oysters. Usually loyal to raw oysters only (most people can’t cook ‘em too well), I took a chance and ordered roasted oysters. Ok, not just roasted oysters – roasted Copp Island oysters with pancetta, shallot butter and lemon. Oh all things that are heavenly, these were the BEST cooked oysters I’ve EVER had. Only oh so slightly roasted, these buttery oysters melted in your mouth while the fat and earthiness of the pancetta balanced it right out on your tongue. Wow.
For the next soiree in my mouth (tee hee) I had the smoked bluefish croquettes with an aioli drizzle, prosciutto and a fried egg. Yeah, pretty much any time something has a fried egg on it I have to order it. These croquettes were ridiculous! So incredibly delicate and moist (ugh, must think of a better word for moist). The smokiness of the bluefish was like “slap you in the face” smokiness that worked perfectly with the salty prosciutto and the rich, fattiness of the aioli and the egg yolk. Yeah this dish was true perfection.
Danny HAD to order the octopus and squid poutine. That’s french fries smothered in beef gravy and harissa (a hot chili sauce from North Africa), topped with grilled squid and octopus. This dish may sound wacky and daring to you, but it’s a sure bet! The fries are salty, thin and are somehow able to maintain their crunchiness despite being smothered in the spicy awesomeness that is the beef gravy and harissa combo–really a unique flavor you’ve probably never experienced before. And, of course, the seafood on top was cooked to perfection which is never easy with squid and octopus. Yeah, we’ll definitely order this again.
And, for his second course, Danny got the squid ink cavetelli with red shrimp and chorizo. If you know anything about Danny, you know HE has to order anything that has squid ink pasta in it. Yeah, he’s kind of obsessed for some reason. Now, we didn’t include a picture of this dish because we have to warn you, the black cavetelli looks like some sort of giant bug, but we promise they don’t taste like it. They were cooked perfectly al dente with that distinctive salty, sea fare, squid ink bite. The shrimp, also always tough to get right, were cooked very nicely and the chorizo added the necessary smoky, fatty flavor to make it all work so well together.
For dessert I was very tempted to order the blood orange panna cotta but decided to go with something completely unique and original to The Whelk: the Ewe Blue and Joe Froggers with honey. What? Yeah, I wondered what the heck it was too! It’s ewe blue cheese from Old Chatham, NY and ginger snap cookies drizzled with local honey. It sounds totally bizarre but it totally works. A wonderful balance of that blue cheese bite, the spiciness of a ginger snap and the sweet, sweet goodness of honey. Definitely hits all the taste buds in just the right way. And finally, Danny ordered the Whoopie Pie–a soft, fluffy chocolatey cake sandwich with fresh, creamy smooth whipped cream filling, Yeah, just look at that sexy picture. YUMMY!
In case you couldn’t tell, our experience at The Whelk sneak preview opening was wonderful. We have no doubt Chefs Taibe and Kardos will keep up that awesomeness for years to come. So, if you love seafood you must try The Whelk out as it’s sure to be one of the best seafood joints in Fairfield County. And, if you’re the type to appreciate local, regional and sustainable food, you too must come here because they’re as authentic as it gets. It’s a win, win.
Let’s be clear: there are no reservations except for a few tables, so come expecting a bit of a wait because people love wicked good seafood. Good things come to those who wait, though, right?The Whelk Noms: 4.25 (until we’ve tried more) Cost: $$$ Address: 575 Riverside Avenue Westport, CT 06880 Phone: (203) 557-0902 Site: http://thewhelkwestport.com E-mail: email@example.com
Just a little bit north off of exit 34 on the Merrit, Madonia is seemingly all by itself on Long Ridge Road. Which makes it the perfect place to go to escape the hectic Stamford downtown scene without sacrificing quality.
We have been wanting to try Madonia for quite some time now, but it wasn’t until we were invited to our very first press dinner that we finally got ourselves out there. We were super excited about it. Excited to meet other writers, excited to try the much talked about Madonia, and excited for a great meal. Except that, well, I’m an idiot and got the dates mixed up. The press dinner was next Wednesday. Doah! But no worries, when we got in we were greeted by the owner and chef, Enzo Bruno. He just so happened to have the menu on hand from last night’s press dinner, so he treated us to this complimentary tour of his culinary genius. How nice!
At first, we noticed there was a large dining room with a table in the middle that had grated cheese, quality olive oil, crushed red pepper, and other essential goodies to have at an Italian restaurant. What followed was one of the best Italian meals that we have had in Fairfield County. Our guide, Enzo, is a true Italian, coming over from Calabria, Italy 16 years ago. He opened up Madonia just a few years ago and has brought it to new heights with his culinary expertise. He also works as the sommelier for the restaurant because he feels that you need to understand your food to understand how to pair it. He’s the DaVinci of Italian food, we swear. So, signore e signori, come along on our viaggio through Madonia. That’s ladies and gentleman, take a voyage with us, for you non-paesans.
1st Course: Tuna Tartare
Fresh and tasty. The corn really brings nice texture contrast to the tuna and the creaminess of the avocado. Add the contrast of the sweet and spicy mango-wasabi drizzle and all the flavor spots will be happy. Enzo paired this with a dry and crisp Prosecco from Villa Sandi, which was a genius pairing. Not too sweet, nice and dry to compliment this complex dish.
2nd Course: Autumn Salad
The vinaigrette was one of the best we’ve had. It was a bit tangy with lots of hints of spices such as ground mustard seed and rosemary. The Autumn Salad had field greens, roasted beets and pears, figs, and some feta. All the flavors jived well together and it was another great pairing with a Torrontes 2010 from Tierra de Luna. Kristien totally nailed it when she described it as minerally and soft… a little like a steel aged chardonnay, but not quite. You should’ve seen her face light up when she saw this wine was a Chardonnay blend. She loves when she gets a wine right!
3rd Course: Sole Riviera
A beautifully cooked and delicate Sole fillet with charred peppers, peas, aceto di moscato, and fresh mozz all atop of Sardinian couscous. Sardinian couscous. We had no idea there was such thing, but there is. Just imagine bigger pearls of couscous. The couscous itself was cooked nicely with an earthy taste to it from the mushrooms. That added a nice balance to the fish. You come out with sweet and sour flavors bouncing you around. We wanted to have more tomatoes to give more contrast with the acids in the dish to contrast the heaviness of the couscous. Enzo gave us a 2009 Falanghina from Terredora that was slightly citrusy and matched nicely with the sole and the earthiness of the broth and mushroom couscous.
Palate Cleanser: Raspberry Sorbet
Yummy! Full of raspberry flavor that burst onto your palate. Whenever we hear palate cleanser, we think of Web Soup’s special part of the show after you are assaulted with ”Things You Can’t Unsee.”
4th Course: Homemade gnocchi
Melt-in-your-mouth-awesomey-goodness! The sauce was tangy and tomatoes, not too sweet, just right. The gnocchi light and fluffy like it’s made in Italy: a real treat if you’re a gnocchi lover and you’ve never had it freshly made. Tip: when Enzo or your server asks if you’d like pepper or cheese, add some crushed red pepper for a kick and some freshly shaved park for bite. The 2008 Barbera d’Alba from Batasiolo Sovrana had a medium body and was fruit forward which cut nicely into the sauce and starch from the gnocchi.
5th Course: 5 hour short ribs
Delicate short ribs that flake at the smallest touch of your fork covered in a rich chianti glaze. OMG. It was served atop a helping of horseradish mashed potatoes and some cabbage. This was killer enough, but Enzo put a homemade onion ring battered with Peroni Italian beer. Yeah, just a ridiculously good dish. We were given a 2006 Super Tuscan from Coronoto to pair up with the short ribs that was jammy and had nice depth. A smart pairing for this rich dish.
Madonia won’t disappoint. Whether you go for their Tuesday-Thursday 3 course dinner at a mere $25, for a brunch with half off bottles of wine and live jazz, or you just want some great, authentic Italian food made with love…well, this is your spot. We plan to be back, take Kristien’s parents, and to recommend Madonia to people who are looking for Italian restaurants that rise above the rest in Fairfield County.
Madonia Restaurant & Bar
Address: 1297 Long Ridge Road
Stamford, CT 06903
Phone: (203) 322-8870
Now hear this, now hear this:
Colony Grill in Stamford, the original, is going to deliver to Stamford businesses and offices from 11-3 pm starting 11/7/11. This Monday!
Also, they want to let you know that your requests for credit card purchases hasn’t gone to “deaf ears.” You are now able to use your credit card at Colony Grill.
We took that, ran with it, then tweeted. Yeah, we got a riot on our hands. It kinda felt like when Harold Camping told us the world would be over and we said, yeah, sure dude…whatever. Well, the world ain’t over Omnomivores!
Also, there is a projected opening date of 1/15/12 for Colony Grill in Avon, CT!
Just to refresh your memories, here’s our two posts on Colony Grill: