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A peek inside the vault at Cask Republic SoNo (Review)

6 Jan

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The news came as a shock to many people when Ginger Man SoNo  announced it was closing its doors. But quickly after the shock came relief when the owner, Christian Burns, shared the reason why: they wanted to refresh the darker and more compartmentalized Ginger Man into something brighter and more open. And with that change they wanted to bring a fresh, new menu, and a name change to go along with it. The new name was one we were all familiar with: Cask Republic, which is the same Cask many have come to know and love in Stamford and New Haven. Continue reading

Come to Lugano for the meats + cheeses, stay for the rest – Old Greenwich (Review)

27 Jul

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While we trusted, based on their impressive restaurant portfolio, the Racanelli’s wouldn’t let us down on fabulous ambiance, food, and drink, we were eager to check out all that Lugano Wine Bar & Salumeria has to offer after watching it being built up over the past few months.  We were probably most excited by their amazing selection of artisan meats and cheeses from their Salumeria, their wine and cocktail list, and their variety of Italian tapas . . . you know, pretty much everything.

When we arrived, we were valet-parked and got our seats right away. Conicidentally, we sat in the same exact spot where we sat during the past two iterations of the space (Palomino & Bistro Latino). As we shared during our preview post, the bar is a stunning and lavish White Carera Marble and the seats are clad in a rich and exotic red leather that just oozes comfort. It’s very Zaza, Molto, and Dolce, but more “Industrial Chic,” as Nick Jr. told us, putting it in a league of its own.

Meat and cheese plate at Lugano in Greenwich

Well, let’s get down to it and dig into the food (much like we did). First off, we went a bit crazy with the meats and cheeses, but we were hungry and needed something in our bellies STAT. You can order meats and cheeses individually or you can order them up in special platters, too. In addition, there are small bites for you to order alongside the meats and cheeses like Polenta Fritta, Marinated Olives, Garlic Bread, Cauliflower Fritti, and Giardiniera.

While we have had a few of the meats on the menu already, we wanted to try some of the rarer and harder to find kinds that the Lugano staff were so proud of. The first we tried was the Smoked Panchetta which had beautiful marbling and just the right hint of smoke. Second was the Salame Calabrese which Nick Jr. had told us to try a month ago. Unlike so many other meats that claim to be spciy (but are just lame), this one had a nice gentle creeping heat to it. And, arguably our new favorite was the Finocchiona because the fennel came through so nicely but wasn’t overpowering at all. All were sliced paper thin and really just melted away into your mouth.

And, while it was tough to pick the meats, it was even tougher to pick which cheese to order. Considering our outright addiction to burrata, we had to place an order of the Burratina. It comes cut apart, is somewhat creamy on the inside, and is a bit denser on the outside. Overall, it was a decent burrata, but I think we’ve been spoiled by the amazing, freshly made-on-the-spot burrata at Brick + Wood, making all other burrata pale in comparison. We also ordered the honey glazed ricotta which came out in a very large portion. So much so that we got three extra orders of bread just so we could spread a lil’ on each piece. Oh, and it was great: the ricotta was creamy and airy with the honey adding a nice sweetness to all of it.

Meatball Sampler at Lugano in Greenwich

At this point, we were feeling good and could have ended the meal satisfied, but that would be very un-OmNomCT of us, now wouldn’t it? Damn right, so we ordered the Meatball Tasting which had three balls together for $9.50. Up first was the Classic Beef which was delicate, moist, airy, and light. Next in the tasting was the Turkey ball which had that nice savory taste you expect from good turkey, but was a bit denser than the beef. And, finishing up the plate was Spicy Beef which again was airy but had a spicy kick that again creeped up on us. All the meatballs had a crispy crust along the outside and we dug the nicely balanced sauce which was tangy, chunky, with the right amount of saltiness.

From here, we decided to try out the Spicy Pork Ribs, the Polenta with three meat ragu, and the Spicy Fried Italian Peppers just to get a taste of the apps that they offer. Without a doubt, the Spicy Pork Ribs were a highlight of the night for us. The ribs slid off the bone with a gentle tug, they had a nice heat going on, and had that awesome balance of rich and tangy from the vinegar. We’d order these again and again. Up next was the polenta which was creamy, but could’ve used more salt and flavor. And, while we liked the lamb and beef on top, we felt like the dish overall was bland—there needed to be more sauce, or more of an acidic contrast going on in the ragu.

Fried Italian Peppers at Lugano in Greenwich

And, finally, we finished up (so we thought) with the Spicy Fried Italian Peppers. The aroma on those peppers was amazing, so we dug in. And, while there was a nice flavor from the grill, the peppers were also on the bland side with no (or too little to taste) seasoning.

As we got our check to pay, wouldn’t you know it, dessert shows up, courtsey of the house. Oh Lord, have mercy. So, we dug in with what remaining space there was left in our bellies, and got down to business. First we took bites of the Cheesecake which was very creamy and not too sweet at all. In addition to that perfect balance, it was rich, but not dense. And, tying it all together was a bright and vibrant rasberry sauce. A very nice cheesecake indeed! We were also treated to a Molten Lava Cake. Now, we’ve got something to say about Molten Lava Cakes. We’ve stopped ordereing these because they always just end up tasting like a cake with a tiny drop of “lava” inside. But, we’re happy to report that this cake was overflowing with lava inside once we took our forks to it. There was definitely a nice, rich, chocolately taste and it was (also a nice surprise) actually hot!

So, wrapping it all up, we liked a lot about our first time at Lugano. The meat and cheese options are the big highlight, especially if you’ve got a nice glass of wine or cocktail in your hand (which they have a great selection of). We would go back here just for these options, no doubt. Also, we’d definitely get the Meatball Tatsing again becaue it was delcious, but we’re a little cautious about that with the price for just three meatballs. Now, while nothing is priced too expensively, it does add up after a bit if you get a little app happy like us. But, considering the prices of Italian in Greenwich, Lugano remains a moderate option with good quality. And, while we did note that some of the dishes needed a lil’ more sumin sumin, they’ve been open for a very short time and are still finding their way through their new restaurant no doubt. We’ll be back again to be confirm or update our first impressions. Cuz, you know, that’s how we roll!

Lugano

Noms: 3.5

Cost: $$$

Address: 1392 East Putnam Avenue

                Old Greenwich, CT

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Matsu for Monster Good Sushi – Westport, CT

5 Jan

When we lived in Westport back in ’04, we became rabid sushi eaters. A typical week saw us picking up or getting sushi delivery at least twice a week. You might say we had a problem, though we’re sure Matsu Sushi didn’t think so since we usually got it from them! They were not only conveniently located right down the street, but their sushi was always fresh and delicious.

But, it’s been a loooong while since we’d been, so long in fact that we hadn’t realized that when we were invited to check out Matsu, that this was the restaurant we had always ordered from. Quite a happy coincidence!

Parking was very easy across the street at the Library (which we *think* is legal after hours, but we can’t be held accountable if not, lol). That particular night we had the pleasure of dining with one of the owners, Paul Teoh and his partner. They took us through their menu, their history, sushi culture, and seemingly every single dish on their menu.

So let’s dive in…

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Cooking up a steamy French Italian romance: Barrique – Stamford

23 Jun

As long as we’ve been in Stamford, Chez Jean-Pierre was an instution on Bedford Street.  There was rarely a day when the bistro wasn’t packed and never a beautiful day the front doors weren’t open to let the fresh air in.  A collective sigh rose up, though, when Chez Jean Pierre closed last year.  But then, like a beacon of hope, soon after, there was a sign up: Coming soon, Barrique Bistro & Wine Bar. When we inquired (like good food bloggers do) we found out that the brand new part French, part Italian spot was being opened by owner and Executive Chef Louis Barresi who also has Doppio Greenwich, Huntington, and West Village.

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We Pledge Allegiance to Good Beer + Food at Cask Republic – Stamford, CT

24 Feb

Beer overlooking the fireplace at Cask Republic Stamford

Although we went to the Friends and Family event to celebrate the opening of Cask Republic, we still felt like we were the last people in the world who hadn’t been there for a regular meal service.  Check-in after check-in, beer brag after beer brag, each friend telling us they were there made us green with envy.  So, after spending a few hours around Stamford doing errands, we decided to hit up this new spot (check out more details here) and experience the awesomeness everyone else already experienced.

It wasn’t just the sick selection of beer that we wanted to try out, either!  It was also the food from newly appointed Chef Juan Gonzalez that we were excited to try.  Like many chefs, he had started off washing dishes and prepping food, but he worked hard and graduated from culinary school at the International School of Tourism and Hotel Management in Puerto Rico.  From there he worked as a chef on a cruise ship and became Executive Chef of Pepin’s Cafe & Tasca in San Juan.  Then he came to America and worked at The Homestead 1766, Ocean Reef Club, and Little Palm Island Resort & Spa, and most recently was Chef de Cuisine at Post 154 with Executive Chef Alex Rosado.  That’s quite a resume!

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Get your wallet ReAdy for some ReAlly tasty pizza. ReNapoli, Greenwich

23 Jul

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We love discovering new neighborhoods, especially the new restaurants within those new places.  We do have a food blog after all!  One day, a few weeks ago, we went off exploring throughout Greenwich.  Specificallly, we hit up all the parks and beaches to see where our new shiny park passes could get us.  On our way into Tods Point, we discovered Old Greenwich for the first time…home of Garden Catering and ReNapoli to name a few!

Burrata at ReNapoli in Greenwich, CTSo, we took note of ReNapoli, did a little research and decided to give it a shot when we were in the mood for some pizza.  We learned it was BYOB (with no corking fee, FTW) so we grabbed a nice bottle of red and headed straight over.  Now, as we said, we did a little research beforehand and found out just weeks before, pizza maker Bruno DiFabio had teamed up with Bob LeRose of Bobby Q’s to create a pulled pork pizza.  This pizza of legend took top honors and won first place at the Greenwich Town Party.  And, DiFabio himself is quite the legend, tossing his pie into the ring and winning 3 world pizza championships.

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Celebrate 1 Year w/ free cocktails, deals, and snacks @ Bar Q in Stamford

5 Jun

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When we talked with Bob LeRose about the opening of Bar Q in Stamford to say we were excited would be an understatement.  Small plates of BBQ with great drink options?  It seemed like a no-brainer!  Now, having been there five times, we can say the food has definitely improved and they’ve worked through their opening kinks.  But, it’s crazy to think that they have been open for a year already!

And, with that year of being open, they’ve changed things up a bit.  First off, they’ve revamped their menu by adding some larger BBQ plates, salads, sandwiches, and other options that will get you excited like the Bar Q Cuban sandwich.  They have also added in good options for family dining such as the Sunday evening $50 family style dinner that gets you 3 fixins’, 5 BBQ items, and 3 sides.  And, you also might have heard about their new concept on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights starting at 10:  Bar Q Saloon.  Cowgirls dance on the bar and serve up some mighty fine drink specials.  They play country music and, at times, they even have a mechanical bull for your to conquer out on their patio.  You’ll need to follow them on FB to see when the bull has arrived.

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Twice is nice, third time’s a charm at B.J. Ryan’s BANC House in Norwalk

28 May
Ladies and gentleman:  The Healthy Elvis sandwich.  We're talking bananas, strips of thick smoky bacon, and peanut butter served up on whole wheat bread.

Ladies and gentleman: The Healthy Elvis sandwich. We’re talking bananas, strips of thick smoky bacon, and peanut butter served up on whole wheat bread.  Lobster roll in the background…

When we first went to B.J. Ryan’s B•AN•C (BBQ and crabs) back in November 2011, we were excited for an awesome meal.   The weather was beautiful so we sat outside under their awesome covered patio.  When the food arrived, though, we were pretty disappointed.   There were some highlights like the drink selections and the bacon wrapped dates, but the BBQ ribs, chicken, and risotto we had were way too dry and overcooked.

Now the ribs had a nice char and were anything but dry...

Now the ribs had a nice char and were anything but dry…

Then, a few months back, Kristien’s boss’s band, Ask Your Mom, was playing at B•AN•C, so we decided to give it another try.  We asked Derek what to try and he (and some of his band mates) suggested the Lazy Bacon pork belly.  Smart man that Derek is, because the pork belly was excellent, with a nice ratio of fat to meat.  We also had some ribs that were cooked very nicely, charred on the outside, delicate on the inside, coming off the bone with a gentle tug…totally different than the ribs that we first had.  And, of course, we ordered the bacon wrapped dates because they kicked butt last time.  The mixed drinks were great too and, hey, it’s hard to beat live music at a BBQ joint. We were very happy to see such improvement.

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Go Down Home at Hash House a Go Go at Mohegan Sun

6 May

Adam Richman signs Hash House a Go Go sign

“Is that a meal or a monument?” Dan’s friend Adam asked on Facebook.

Biscuits at Hash House a Go Go in Mohegan SunHe was referring to a pic of the legendary Sage Fried Chicken and Waffles dish at Hash House a Go Go, newly opened in Mohegan Sun.  This dish is famous because the redonkulously amazing Adam Richman of Man vs. Food tasted and loved its epicness at their Las Vegas spot.  You know if Adam Richman put all other chicken and waffles on notice, it has to be good.  So, we did like any other brave and upstanding American would do…we pigged out and got down and dirty.

Spiked Kiwi Watermelon Lemonade

Spiked Kiwi Watermelon Lemonade

Our first piece of business was checking out the drink options.  While they don’t have any beers on tap, they do have a decent selection of the classics and some craft beer choices by the can and bottle.  Also, there are some wine choices, but their mixed drinks menu is what really shines.  The two drinks that stood out to us were the beautiful Spiked Kiwi Watermelon Lemonade that Dan ordered and the perfectly balanced Champagne Supernova that Kristien drank.  Dan’s was a great balance of sweet, herby, and tart with just the right amount of liquor.  Kristien’s was also nicely balanced with a mixture of two different champagnes, Riesling, mint, lemonade and sugar cane.

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Coalhouse Pizza Expands: Offers Games, Beer Classes, + More – Stamford, CT

20 Sep

Our ol’ go-to pizza/beer spot is becoming bigger and better.  Soon (hopefully by the end of September) it’ll be a whole lot easier to get a table, grab a beer, and nom away on a slice of their coal-fired pizza.  This has all been made possible by getting the shop next store, gutting it out, then sprinkling on the Coalhouse mojo.  When you go into the new room, you’ll notice how big the room is, filled with tables, a bar, and more.  Onto the more part:  you’ll notice that you can do more than just eat at Coalhouse Pizza.  Gerard and co. have a shuffleboard table, darts, karaoke, and Golden Tee 2013 so you can drink some cold ones or eat while you destroy your friend (or significant other) at any of those games.  Plus, there will be four large flat screen tvs for your viewing pleasure.  And, you asked for it, now you’ll have it:  60 additional seats.  That’s enough to spread out and also enough for a nice party.  Just sayin’. 

One of the first things that Coalhouse Pizza has planned for the next space is a monthly series of beer classes that you can attend to learn more about beer or even how to homebrew.  PhD. in Beerology?  Yes.  Masters in Brews?  You know it.  Beer Philosopher?  Most definitely.  The first date is October 8 and will be hosted by Brendan Kingston of B. United International.  On topic?  “Hopstacle,” a talk about the five major hop growing areas and their different flavors and aromas.   To really get what he’s talking about, Coalhouse will have five beers for tasting that use those exact hops.

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