Can you believe that this is the third year of the OmNomys?! For those of you new to us this year, we like to eat a little food every now and then (riiight), and keep track of the best of the best to celebrate at the end of the year. In 2011 and 2012 we were lucky enough to dine on some amazing food throughout Fairfield County, but we feel like 2013 really upped the ante with some fantastic new spots opening up!
So here it is, the 2013 OmNomys…the best food we’ve eaten in Fairfield County in the year 2013 (not necessarily ever, just in 2013)! If you noticed one of your favorites that wasn’t on the list, it doesn’t mean it’s not awesome…it just means we may not have eaten there in 2013 or we happened to eat somewhere just a little better this year. But hey, there’s always 2014, so tell us where we need to hit up for next year’s list!
Best Ambiance: Dolce Cubano, Stamford
Dolce Cubano won last year, but…guess what? They win again this year because we finally had the chance this year to enjoy some outdoor and open-air dining at this waterfront spot in Stamford. It’s sexy, it’s sleek, and it has an amazing vibe that fills the place up night after night. That’s why this is our perfect go-to spot when we go out with friends for a fun night. It’s so chill, Kristien has been known to spend 4+ hours there with her friends Christine, Amanda, and Mary!
Best BBQ: Farmboys Smokin’ BBQ, Darien
We were lucky this year because we got to have Farmboys Smokin’ BBQ a few times: Kristien’s company party, Kristien’s birthday party, and at Two Roads’ Ok2berfest. Matt and Stacey Lombardo and co. cook their meat low and slow in their custom-made smokers and the results are awesome. Our favorite are the ribs and the delicate pulled pork. If you’re lucky, you can taste the pork cheeks when they’re doing an event. Plus, ladies and gents, you MUST try their killer mac & cheese…truly awesome.
Best Beer Selection (Restaurant): The Ginger Man, Norwalk
Whether you’re talking about their 52 brews on tap or massive bottle collection, Ginger Man in Norwalk has the beer for you. And, we have the feeling that next year their brother restaurant Cask Republic Stamford will make next year’s list with 60 taps and a beer cellar perfect for aging brews.
Best Beer Selection (Store): Harry’s Wine & Liquor, Fairfield
We think Harry’s in Fairfield has an amazing variety of beer available for beerologists. Renzo hand selects hard to find brews and is always on the lookout for what’s tried and true or hot and new. Plus, if you’re looking for wine or the hard stuff, they have an excellent variety too.
Best Brunch: Volta, Stamford
When we want a great brunch experience, we head over to Volta in Stamford. They have bottomless bellinis and mimosas on the weekends, have a great variety of crepes, have a good selection of freshly pressed juices, and have other options available like salads and sandwiches. The best part about Volta, for us, is that you won’t fork over a ton of money like most brunch spots. All of this made it the perfect place to do a joint review with our friends James, Ann, and Alex from Sunday Diners.
Best Burger: Plan B Burger Bar & Bistro, Stamford
We’ve had lots of burgers this year, but the ones at Plan B seem to stand out a bit more to us because they’re so different. Yes, you can only order them with some pink or no pink, but they are some of the juiciest burgers around. This has to do with their loosely packed patties that are made fresh daily from humanely raised beef. We love seeing what their burger of the week will be, or like trying out one of their tried and true topping combos. Plus, all that beer and bourbon makes the burger experience even more nomworthy.
Best Burrito : Tomatillo Taco Joint, Greenwich
People are always asking where they can find a really thick, awesome burrito. And, we tell them…check out Tomatillo in Greenwich, and now in Stamford. The ingredients are always fresh (never dried out like you get sometimes with Moe’s or Chipotle) and full of flavor. Also, with their make your own options, you have a seemingly infinite amount of possibilities for fillings.
Best Cheese Shop: Fairfield Cheese Company, Fairfield
We finally had the chance to hit up FCC and we must gush, we’re in love. There is not only an amazing cheese selection, but there are lots of jams, spreads, meats, and specialty products available. Plus, there are always classes going on at the shop, helping you to learn more about cheese. Tip: they sell the Skillet Bacon Jam spread.
Best Coffee (locally brewed): Deadly Grounds, Norwalk
We can’t help it, we’re very particular about our coffee. So, when we heard about Deadly Grounds brewed in Norwalk, we weren’t sure what to expect. We loved the idea, the image, and the hearse that Tom Lialios delivers the coffee with…but we weren’t sure how the coffee would hold up. Well friends, the coffee is excellent. Dan particularly loves the Pumpkin Spice because there are actual spices that come through. And, we both love the Dark and Deadly Roast and Hell’s Fury because they lean on the darker side of coffee. Learn more about Deadly Grounds here and place your orders online for quick delivery.
Best Coffee (cafe): Lorca, Stamford
What can we say about Lorca except that we’re Lorca-vores for life? Leyla selects excellent quality beans for both drip and pour over coffee. Also, Lorca is very well known for their amazing churros that come with 60% dark chocolate, dulce de leche, and Mexican chocolate sauces. But, Lorca also has lots of other drinks to try and they even have some amazing sandwiches, salads, treats, and Leyla’s quiche of the day. Lorca is that neighborhood coffee shop that Fairfield County desperately needs and loves.
Best Cupcakes: Forever Sweet Bakery, Stamford
Our obsession with Forever Sweet Bakery started when they sold cupcakes out of the Stamford Town Center. And, it has continued to this year as they opened their own spot in Norwalk. Still, we can’t get enough, especially their red velvet cupcakes. We even had them for Kristien’s birthday party!
Best Delivery: Famous Greek Kitchen, Greenwich
We actually spent our first full year in Greenwich in 2013, so we had a chance to try out lots of delivery options. And, we’ve gotta say, we love Famous Greek Kitchen. Our go-to meal is the Tri-Combination Platter that features gyro, falafel, your choice of pork or chicken, olives, lettuce, grape leaves, and some pita on the side. It’s the perfect option for us to make us feel all warm inside and it never costs too much money. Delivery has always been nice and quick, too.
Best Desserts: Bailey’s Backyard, Ridgefield
Bailey’s isn’t just about amazing local food…it’s also about the sweet stuff. Perhaps one of the most memorable desserts that we ever had was an amazing concoction from Chef Pasternack: s’mores. Yes, we’ve all had s’mores, but have you had a reinterpreted s’mores dish like this? Forrest took actual wood smoke and trapped it inside a glass dome that went over the dessert. The result? That beautiful, earthy, smoky taste that you can only get from making s’mores on the campfire. Simply put, redonkulously creative and delicious.
Best Drinks: Bodega Taco Bar, Darien
We’ve had plenty of cocktails around Fairfield County, so this was a hard one to judge. But, when it came down to it, we loved the well balanced, flavorful, and creative drinks at Bodega Darien. Our favorites are Figure 8 (Cabo Wabo anejo, rosemary, fig preserves, ginger, and OJ) and The Bodega Girl (Carralejo reposado, strawberry-cilantro mash, and lemon juice). And, if you love spicy drinks, you won’t be disappointed with the Tomalito, one of Dan’s favorites.
Best Entertainment: Coalhouse Pizza, Stamford
Coalhouse Pizza won last year and again, we can’t think of any other restaurant that we’ve been to that has as many great events. Whether you’re talking about how owner Gerard Robertson gives back to loyal customers via Beer Club Night, how he has beer classes, his amazing lineup of live musicians, or even his trivia night, Coalhouse has you covered. And, one of the major highlights of events are Coalhouse Pizza’s beer dinners that feature local breweries. But, all this entertaining wouldn’t mean a thing unless the pizza rocked and the 52 brews on tap were awesome…
Best Farm-to-Table: Bailey’s Backyard, Ridgefield
Although Bailey’s Backyard is a reboot of a successful restaurant, Chef Forrest Pasternack has turned it into a locavore’s dream. That’s because Forrest and his staff visit local farms on a regular basis and pick what’s fresh and what’s great. While you can see these dishes come alive on the regular menu, you can also pick from the Market Table Tasting Menu. That’s three courses/$44, four/$45, or seven/$85. But, if you’re a shrewd consumer, you could come by for dinner on Wednesday and get four courses for just $35. What should you order? Everything. Heck, we love this restaurant so much, we’ve taken our friends Renato and Alicia, Jay and Ali, and soon Kristien’s parents. Kristien has also sent several friends and coworkers and they all can’t get enough!
Best Food Truck: LobsterCraft (Scuttling throughout Connecticut)
Damn, we can’t get enough LobsterCraft! And, do you know what? It seems that LobsterCraft fever has taken over Connecticut because they’ve pulled in some great awards. Well, count this as their newest award. Their lobster rolls are wicked good, but their brand new invention was amazing…we’re talking about their surf and turf roll. Yeah, they’re amazing!
Best Food Truck, New: Vanchetta, Fairfield County
When we first heard about Vanchetta, we knew they would be amazing. What, with a rotisserie built right into the truck, how could Andy Dolan go wrong? We can safely say that after countless sandwiches and sides that Vanchetta is the best new food truck that we’ve experienced this year! We love their classic porchetta sandwich, but also love their specials like the roasted lamb and their patatas bravas side dish.
Best French: Rouge Brasserie & Oyster Bar, Greenwich
We’ve had a good deal of French and Bistro fare, but none compare to Rouge this year. Dare we say that we enjoyed escargot, mussels frites, and everything else we shoveled down on a recent visit? And, with Executive Chef Josh Moulton as the driving force behind that restaurant, you can understand why the food is so outstanding. Plus, it’s so sexy and chic inside. Oo la la.
Best Fries: Fryborg, New Haven + Fairfield Counties
Although it’s normally a New Haven based food truck, Fryborg has shown up all over Fairfield County this year. Whether they were at a fair, a festival, or providing nomworthy bites at Two Roads, Fryborg brought it. The fries at Fryborg are, without a doubt, some of the best fries to ever grace this land. The outsides remain crispy and have that lovely crunch, but the insides remain toasty and delicate. Where the fries really excel, though, are the toppings. We love the fries with chili, but we were also amazingly surprised when we tried the fries over curried bratwurst at Ok2berfest…divine and not too spicy.
Best Ice Cream: Il Baccio, Danbury
Kristien worked in Danbury for a while, so she’d get Il Baccio with co-workers sometimes, but we got the real deal when we visited Stanziato’s. There they serve specially formulated ice cream flavors for dessert. Dan had the Devil Dog ice cream which immediately brought us back to being a kid, and we tried our friend Renato’s Mallomar Ice Cream which was light, fluffy, and oh so dreamy…much like his luscious beard.
Best Italian: Bar Sugo, Norwalk
Chefs Pat Pascarella and Paul Failla are putting together classic Italian dishes and also giving hungry diners tastes of Modern Italian at this SoNo hotspot. One of the highlights is the freshly made pasta, especially the cavatelli, which Kristien boasted as the best cavatelli dish she’s had. Another great part of the menu is the meatball sampler that always satisfies. Kristien proclaims these are the best meatballs next to her Nana’s! Bravo! We even took Kristien’s parents here, and our friends Craig and Julia there, and they loved everything as well!
Best Latino: Bodega Taco Bar, Darien
While Bodega Taco Bar might seem like your typical Mexican spot on the surface, when you look closely at the menu you’ll see how Chefs Michael Young and Luis Chavez throw in creative spins to the classics. It’s really hard to go wrong with any dish here, but some of our faves are the grilled corn, the Real Deal Fish Tacos, the fried chicken waffle tacos, the paella, the guac, and the Arroz con Pollo Negro. Lucky for you they also have killer drinks, hence us giving them Best Drinks this year, too.
Best Mediterranean/New American : Char, Greenwich
Opened just this year, Char is the spot that we tell everybody in the world to try out. We went just a week after they opened and Chef David Snyder wowed us with his beautifully rich and creative dishes. At the tops of our list are the grilled octopus and lamb bolognese with bucatini and goat cheese. We were scared for a few hot seconds when Chef Snyder said that he was changing up the menu to match fall offerings, but he assured us our two favorite dishes would remain because they were so popular…and he knew how much we loved them. Where else can you get such personal love and attention?
Best Pizza: Stanziato’s, Danbury
Pizza’s not an easy category to judge because there are so many varieties, so many toppings, and so many different ways to prepare it. And, while we have lots of favorites all over Fairfield County, we feel like this year we found a new pie to pine over: Stanziato’s in Danbury. Our buddies Alicia and Renato Ghio took us there (with a mighty fine magnum of Three Philosophers too) and we all pigged out. Appropriately so, one of our favorites was Piggy Piggy with bacon, caramelized onions, and slices of fresh tomato. The crust is just how we like it, too, not too thin and not too thick. Two other favorites that we tasted were The Spinach Pie and the pizza simply known as Sausage. Killah.
Best Service: Char, Greenwich
Do you know what’s amazing? When you go to a restaurant and the servers have no clue about the menu, about dishes, or the flavor profiles of what the restaurant serves. It’s even more amazing when the restaurant has been around for years…but that didn’t happen at Char in Greenwich. Even during their second week in business, our waiter not only had the menu memorized, you could tell that he had tasted every single dish. Water never went empty, cocktails were brought to us quickly so we were never thirsty and without booze, and dishes were evenly paced even though we ordered enough plates to feed a family.
Best Southern: NOLA Oyster Bar, Norwalk
Executive Chef Dan Kardos is one talented dude. He found a way to take Southern food and transform it into something different and make it truly his own. When we visited, we were with our friends Mike and Kelley (with 2 e’s, people) and were able to order lots of dishes to try out. One of our favorite dishes was the lobster and waffles. Simply put: amazing. And, while we loved everything else, the shrimp and grits was a real pleasure to eat even though it’s seemingly simple. Some other highlights from the meal (Chef Kardos changes the menu with the seasons) included pork sliders, an oyster BLT and another stellar dish: clam poutine.
Best Special Event, Dinner: Chef Plum Dinner Underground
Chef Plum has been all over TV recently, competing on The Taste, winning Guy’s Grocery Games, and making weekly appearances on Better TV…but something else very important to him is being able to put on his Dinner Underground series. These special events revolve around a central theme that pop up at different places. He has had multi-course dinners at Butcher’s Best in Newtown and even was the first person to EVER host a dinner at a Williams Sonoma store. We attended his last event at the Williams Sonoma store in Danbury and had a great time. One of the most memorable courses was a do-it-yourself polenta board. You got the polenta, then you put in pesto, pumpkin pecan, or a bolognese sauce. While it’s great to eat course after course (paired with beer or wine of course), it’s awesome to hear Chef Plum talk about each course right before you eat. Did you know he used to be a professional wrestler? Yes, The Chef. Damn Google can’t find a thing on that, though.
Best Special Event, Festival: Harbor Brew Fest, Bridgeport
While we liked the first year, it seemed a bit too crowded for us, so we weren’t sure what this year’s event would be like. Well, ladies and germs, let’s just say it blew all our expectations out of the water. This was an amazingly fun event this year. We were able to get all the beer we wanted, lines for the food trucks were easy to deal with, there were great people, and the VIP experience was excellent. We look forward to next year’s Harbor Brew Fest!
Best Wings: Dinosaur Bar-b-que, Stamford
Well kiddos, we’re always in the mood for wings when we go out to a bar, pub, or a restaurant that offers them. But, let’s be honest: how disappointed are you when you order a nice plate of wings and they come out soggy, too breaded, or dried out? Yeah, it ruins your day. But, we’ve never had that problem at Dinosaur Bar-b-que in Stamford. For the second year in a row we’ve given them the best wings in Fairfield County…and with good reason. The flavors are enhanced because the wings are not only smoked but also grilled. This adds an amazing depth to how the chicken tastes, but it also keeps the meat nice and juicy. And, have them throw on whichever sauce you like (Wango Tango is our fave, but there’s also Honey BBQ, Sesame Hoisin, Garlic Chipotle, and Devil’s Duel) and you’ve got our favorite wings.
Top 3 Within Reach (noming just outside Fairfield County)
Best Wings: Coals, Port Chester (NY)
We have a confession. We’re addicts. We have another confession. We can’t help but spread the addiction, as we’ve hooked so many of our friends like Kevin and Aly, Meg , RJ, and too many others to mention. So, here it is: Coal’s wings are life changing. We dare say they are the best wings that we’ve ever had. There’s something so very different about them. Like Dinosaur Bar-b-que’s wings, they are grilled, but the difference is in the sauce. It’s a thinner sauce, almost pink in color. While we tried very hard to get the recipe, there was a secret ingredient that could not be shared. Do yourself a favor and get down to Port Chester and try these bad boys. You’ll be hooked. And while you’re there, be sure to get their amazing coal-fired, charred, caramelized brussels sprouts with balsamic, raisins, walnuts, and more deliciousness–best. thing. EVER. For reals.
Best Brunch: Bella’s Cafe, New Haven
After a long day of partying at the most exclusive of all celebrations at O’Toole’s in New Haven, we needed a nice day-after-brunch experience. So, we combed through the interwebs and one stood out: Bella’s Cafe. We had to wait about half an hour for a seat, but it was totally worth it. While they have traditional breakfast items, they also have Southern classics and a rotating menu of specials that will drive you bonkers. Case in point: toasted ciabatta, goat cheese, tomato, arugula, crispy prosciutto, and poached eggs, all covered in a Hollandaise sauce served with potatoes and scallions. Best breakfast Kristien has ever had. And, Dan had an amazing plate of Shrimp & Grits. The grits were creamy/silky and not too cheesed up while the shrimp was done just right.
Best Coffee Shop: Zeppoleme, Port Chester (NY)
We first had Stumptown Coffee at a fun waffle shop in Seattle and couldn’t get enough, so you can imagine how happy we were when we found out that Zeppoleme was serving it. The coffee is bold and has real, actual flavor…no blah, weak coffee here. And, the food is the main thing that keeps us coming back. We’re talking about awesome, ooey gooey, sweet and savory zeppole that come with various dipping sauces, killer panini, salads, and more. Don’t be fooled, though…they also serve wine, so you can also go here in the evening to kick back and knock back a bottle or two.