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A welcome addition to bustling Bedford Street. Hudson Grille, Stamford, CT

23 Aug

On July 2, amongst a sea of restaurants on Bedford Street, opened a contemporary American restaurant named Hudson Grille.  We knew that there was a Hudson Grille already in White Plains, so we weren’t sure if they were going to be one of those subpar, chainy kind of restaurants.  When we finally tried it, we were happy to find this wasn’t the case.

Starting off, the dining area is well designed and makes you sort of feel like you’re somewhere else, maybe in Europe even, so much so that we kind of forgot that we were even in Stamford.  The bar is huge too, if you just feel like having some drinks with friends and snacking on some food.

The menu is on the smaller side right now, but will soon be expanding to even include a sunday brunch.  If you want to know what Hudson Grille is all about, think contemporary American with some flavorful Asian influences from Chef Yoichi Saito. Here’s what we had: Continue reading

¡Viva La Mi Ranchito! – Stamford, CT

17 Jul

November 14, 2011 was a sad day in the Glenbrook neighborhood of Stamford.

On that day poor Mi Ranchito had a car plow through its store front on Hope Street in the early morning.  Although no one was hurt, we were never sure if they’d recover.  For a while, we saw a sign that said, “Opening December.”  But, then December came and we were bummed to see only wooden boards covering up the windows.  Before we knew it though, we started to see glimpses of hope in the spring.  The wooden boards were down, they installed new windows and they were working on the inside.  We knew it would just be a matter of time before they opened again in sweet, sweet victory! Yes, long live Mi Ranchito!

We have to admit, we’ve felt a bit guilty because only a few months before the crash, we had written about our inconsistent experience at Mi Ranchito.  So, whenever we passed by the store, we’d sigh, then drive on.  Well, we knew what we had to do.  We stopped back in for some grub, actually twice.  First, we hit it up for a light lunch which soon turned to a heavy lunch, then we stopped by for din din.

We decided to go with the Peruvian side of things this time around.  We started off with a fresh Ceviche Mixto.  For just a few bucks, we got a huge portion of fresh fish, shrimp, clams, and calamari bathing in a bright and citrusy broth.  Great starter.

Around this time we got our mango batido.  Fresh juice with ice and milk.  Does it get better and more refreshing than that?  Plus, this wouldn’t be a meal if we didn’t order our customary side of platanos.  Seriously, you haven’t lived until you’ve eaten extra ripe, fried plantains.  It’s one of the best things in the world.

As we snacked on these, our main dishes came out:  Lomo Saltado.  Think Peruvian stir-fry and you understand maybe 1% of why this dish is so awesome and has people talking…just look at the Foursquare checkins.  The tomatoes add a nice acidity to the onions and strips of steak.  The sauce in the stir fry is great, but even better was the sauce that gets soaked up by the crispy french fries that are on the bottom of the dish.

The Lomo Saltado by itself is great, but one thing that makes it better is the Aji sauce.  If you’ve been to Valencia in Norwalk, you definitely know about Chef Michael Young’s puréed cold vegetable sauce.  Well, believe it or not, Mi Ranchito’s Aji is pretty damn good too!  Fresh tasting, herby, and a nice underlying heat hits the palate.  This goodness should be doused on every single thing that is edible.  Get this.  Buy a GIANT tub for just $5.  We took ours home and used it for our weekend breakfasts.  Rice, beans, and over easy eggs with…yes, AJI!  Oh. so. heavenly.  We were told there was no mayo in the Aji, but this homespun recipe calls for it.

So, you should definitely give Mi Ranchito a try and visit.  You’ll leave satisfied, hopefully with some Aji, and won’t pay too much money either. Like barely any money at all. Just park on the road, not through the front of their restaurant.  Ya know, just in case.

Noms: 3.5 (up from 2.75, nice gain)

Cost:  $$

Mi Ranchito:  Eat in, take out, or cash only delivery

Address: 262 Hope Street

Stamford, CT 06906

Phone: (203) 353-9252

Site:  http://miranchitoct.com/mi-ranchito-menu.htm

Mi Ranchito on Urbanspoon

Bar Q B.B.Q.: OmNomCT Noms on the Menu, Bite by Bite – Stamford, CT

1 Jun

This post has been updated as of 8/12/12. After our second visit we found a lot of the opening kinks were worked out and the food was even tastier. Giving credit where credits due, we upped Bar Qs score to 3.5 noms!

When we broke the news about Bar Q B.B.Q. back in February, people couldn’t stop talking about what Bob LeRose had in store for Stamford.  What could be better?  Snack and tapas sized portions of BBQ mixed in with drinks that you wouldn’t be able to get enough of.  Well, we thought not much could be better, so we decided it would be a great way to kick off our Memorial Day weekend. And, we knew it was such a great concept, we had to go back went back during the summer to update our review.

Starting off, we love the menu.  It’s pretty simple:  one side has food, broken down into snacks, BBQ, and fixins. The other side has beer, cocktails, bourbon, and wine.  Let’s give you a taste of what we got a taste of…

Drinks

An impressive 26 brews on tap, with a good bunch of those being local.  Drafts are divided up into 5 categories, too: Pilsner, Imperial Pint, Weizen, Beer Shifter, and Seasonal.

Dan decided to go with a super refreshing Huckleberry Lemonade.  It was made with Huckleberry 44 North Vodka and fresh lemonade.  They served it with a sugared rim and fresh blueberries inside.  From the second you drink, you get a nice berry taste, then the lemonade.  The liquor wasn’t overwhelming at all, so this is a nice choice if you want an alcoholic beverage that is still a nice cool glass ‘o summer. Kristien went with the Allagash White Weizen.

Sauces (ranked mild to spicy)

Bourbon X:  good, you get the bourbon and some mesquite.

Vinegar XX:   tart at first, but then finishes with a very subtle heat.

Bold XXX:  just a bit spicy, smoky.

Snacks

Spicy honey chicken and waffles: this was our favorite of the night.  A thickly breaded bit of fried chicken sits atop a tiny waffle.  Add a spicy honey drizzle all over the fried chicken and you’ve got a bite of deliciousness you could just keep poppin’!  The kick from the honey actually does hit you a bit…it’s a nice touch.

Baked jalapeño brush poppers:  just like at Bobby Q’s, these are pretty tasty with creamy cheese and bitsof sweet corn stuffed inside.  Definitely on the spicy side, so be prepared.

Southern Egg Rolls: Sound bizarre? Oh, they are. Pulled pork, pulled chicken, collard greens fried up egg-roll style topped with a mustard BBQ sauce. Yeah, totally bizarre, but totally awesome. Our waitress said these are customers #1 favorite and we can see why. Very unique, very flavorful.

BBQ

Sausage:  there was a nice crisp to the skin and it was flavorful as one would expect of sausage.  But, the meat, itself didn’t have that snap you come to expect from bbq.

Brisket:  this was nice and tender and full of flavor. Cooked very nicely. We liked the BBQ jus that it was on top too.  That brought an added flavor and warmth to the dish.

Candied pork belly:  there was a nice smokiness and a mesquite taste.  The flavors jived well with the fattiness of the pork belly.

St. Louis Cut Sticky Ribs: Our favorite of the meats. A nice, slightly sweet BBQ sauce glazed these soft, tender, flavorful ribs. Quite tasty!

Fixins

Fried green tomatoes:  thick breading coated the tomatoes.  We felt this dish was a little bland on our first visit, however Bobby informed us that they improved the recipe and has been getting some excellent feedback. We’ll have to try them next time.

Mac  & cheese:  ahhh a nice crispy cheesy layer atop a warm, creamy bowl of cheesey macaroni yumminess. The new and improved mac & cheese is DELISH! We couldn’t get enough.

Fiesta Cornbread:  some cheese, corn, and jalapeno all mixed up into thick cornbreadyness.  We would have loved more kick from the peppers, but all in all it had a lot of flavor and was just the right amount of moisture for cornbread.

Hush puppies:  yummy bites with bits of corn inside.  The hush inside was just right…not dry, not soggy.  It had a nice give and take and was moistilicious. Delish!

Sweet Potato Crumble:  We were very excited for this dish on our first visit, because who doesn’t love mashed sweet potatoes with a nice buttery crumble on top?  Unfortunately, the spices were too overwhelming, namely the nutmeg.  However, this, too Bobby says has been addressed. We wanted to order this again on our second trip but had no room. Next time for sure!

Overall thoughts

After being open for a couple of months now,  Bar Q has made a good amount of improvements in the food and the service. Although the service was friendly on our first visit, it was quite slow. On our second visit the service was the way it should be–both friendly and attentive.  And, as you can see, the food was quite good to match.

We’re thrilled to see this improvement because the concept of taking all that we love about BBQ and serving it up in small plates is absolutely brilliant. We definitely recommend Bar Q as a nice place to meet up with friends, graze on some tasty BBQ and small plates, chill at the bar, or just hang out.

Bar Q

Noms:  3.5

Cost: $$$

Address:  15 Clark Street

Stamford, CT 06901

Phone: (203) 316-0278

Bar Q BBQ on Urbanspoon

A Cheeseaphobe Dips into The Melting Pot – Darien, CT

18 May

So, don’t hate…I have an aversion to most cheeses and because of that never tried fondue.  So you could understand my apprehension, then, when we were invited to try out the seasonal menu called Big Night Out America at The Melting Pot.  Melted cheese…in a pot…dipping stuff in it.  I didn’t know how I’d deal, but part of being half of OmNomCT means pushing the boundaries of comfort and the usual.  So, I went into the meal, brave, head held high, and ready to conquer the meal.  Kristien tried to convince me that fondue wasn’t just about cheese, so imagine my relief when I found out she was actually telling the truth and wasn’t just trying to trick me so she could have all the cheese to herself.

We were seated in a nice and cozy booth with a hot plate mechanized robot thing installed right in the table. Our sever Josh told us all about the menu and how the meal works.  As we waited, James Layfield, co-owner with his parents Will and Carol, came by and greeted us.  We had seen James briefly at the Rodizio pre-opening (co-owner there also). It seemed that the second he left, we saw our server come by with dishes of cheese and mix-ins.

First Course:  Cheese Fondue ala Boston

The first part of the tasting menu was fun, but obviously scared me.  Although we could have gone with any cheese combination on their menu, we decided to stick with the Sam Adams Boston Lager cheddar cheese, emmenthaler cheese, and onions.  It was a nice and mild fondue with the beer flavor really showing through.  The dijon and bacon didn’t come through at first, but when you stirred things up the flavor rose up.  We tossed in lots of Tabasco sauce to kick things up, too.  That being said, I enjoyed it, actually.  Kristien, though, thought it was okay…going back she’d go with some stronger cheese combos and decided she doesn’t like beer in her cheese.  We dipped nearly anything that you could imagine:  carrots, cauliflower, brocolli, apples, and bread.  We liked most of the dip-ins, but the bread was a bit disappointing because it was dry.  So, look, I survived and actually enjoyed the dipping.  Chalk one up to me.  Mommy, are you proud of your Danny?

Second Course:  Salads

We have to say that we were really happy with the salads that came out for us.  Kristien had a fresh salad that came with lots of pears, gorgonzola, and pecans.  The dressing was light, not too sweet, and had just the right amount of raspberry taste to set off the ingredients.  I had the Spinach Mushroom Salad with fresh spinach, wonderfully smoky and chunky bacon, nicely chopped tomatoes, and a dressing that you get to pour on yourself.  That Burgundy Shallot Vinaigrette dressing  is killer.  It was a nice palate cleanser, getting you ready for the next portion of the meal.

Third Course:  Coq au Vin and Meats

We were able to pick what variety of meat and accoutrements we wanted and what we wanted our meats cooked in–either Coq au Vin (wine), Court Bouillon (broth), Bourguignonne (canola oil), or Mojo (Carribbean bouillon).   We decided to go with the Coq au Vin because it seemed like a heartier option.  For the meats we went with the lobster, buffalo chicken, steak, pork, dumplings, and veggies package.  We were told that you can’t really overcook the food in the broth, but we love our steak mediumish, so we took those out a bit earlier than the others.  When you’ve cooked your meat, you then need to pick which incredibly flavorful and tasty sauces to dip them in!  Here are some suggestions from us to you:

Green Goddess, sour cream and chives:  buffalo chicken and potato

Gorgonzola and cream sauce:  steak

Melted butter:  lobster, mushroom, potato

Curry sauce:  pork

Sweet and sour:  dumpling

Plum sauce: steak

Cocktail sauce:  shrimp

Dessert

This course, too, was interactive because you’re able to pick your favorite kind of chocolate to dip a helluva lot of stuff in such as your choice of chocolate, Bananas Foster, Flaming Turtle, or Chocolate S’mores.  We went with the Big Night Out special (Chocolate Wildberry Crunch Fondue) and began to salivate, thinking of what awaited us.  Our arsenal for the final course?  Oreo coated marshmallows, graham cracker coated marshmallows, bananas, strawberries, brownies, poundcake, cheesecake, and Rice Krispie treats.  Staring off, we both loved the chocolate because it had such complex flavors.  You first got the hit of smooth chocolate, then a tart berry burst, then finally the creamy, nutty peanut butter started to peak through.  Some of our faves:

Banana:  it was like a banana split in one dip!

Graham cracker marshmallow:  s’mores on steroids.

Oreo marshmallow:  great.  Let it sit for about a minute in the chocolate, turning it.  It’ll turn gooey and will invite you in.

Cheesecake:  so creamy, so awesome, love it.

Beer/Wine Pairings

You can order beer or wine here at pretty affordable prices or you can do the pairing.  When in doubt, always do the pairing.  Someone thought long and hard about what beer and wine goes best with each course, so go with their advice.   We were glad that we got the pairings because they did match up quite well and ended up bringing the flavors out from the cheese, the salad, and the Coq au Vin.  James also told us later that they have had Magic Hat dinners in the past and will be having more.  He also tries to add more beer variety to the menu pretty often, so you can always find some new choices when you return.

Overall Verdict

The Melting Pot in Darien is a great place to take a date, friends, have a party, and just chill out.  You’ll have lots of fun with the interactive elements.  Prices are similar to eating out at a semi-expensive restaurant, but you’ll get good food and you’ll know exactly how the meal is cooked.  No surprises here, you do it yourself.  Service here is also excellent.  Josh was very knowledgeable and made the night fun.  You can also see James Layfield, circulating table to table, asking how things are, and even helping deliver food.  He’s one of the most hands-on owners (that’s a good thing) that we’ve seen at a restaurant.  Another great thing to know is they are gluten-free friendly and are also sensitive about other food allergies.  Just let them know when you sit down.  So, food, price, selection, drinks, and service taken into account, we will definitely return to The Melting Pot.

The Melting Pot

Noms: 3.5

Cost: $$$

Address:  14 Grove Street
Darien, CT 06820
Phone:  (203) 656-4774 
Monday-Thursday: 5 p.m. – 10 p.m.
Friday:  11:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Friday:  5 p.m. – 11 p.m.
Saturday:  11:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Saturday:  4 p.m. – 11 p.m.
Sunday:  4 p.m. – 10 p.m.

Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/TheMeltingPotDarien

Twitter – http://twitter.com/#!/MPMetroNYWWD

Site:  http://www.meltingpot.com/darien/welcome

Melting Pot Restaurant on Urbanspoon

A Slice by Slice Guide to Brazilian Food at Rodizio Grill – Stamford, CT

19 Mar

*Click a picture to start the gallery show*

Things in Connecticut have gotten a beat meatier!  Yes, Rodizio Grill, which has two locations in Colorado, two in Utah, one in Florida, is now open for all you carnivores in Fairfield County.  We were lucky enough to be treated to a sneak preview on Friday, which we’re (of course) sharing with you in every juicy, meaty detail.

In a few words, Rodizio Grill is a Brazilian Steakhouse (actually the first ever in America) that gives you two main lunch and dinner options:  The Full Rodizio or the Salad Bar.  Starting off, The Salad Bar is $13.99 for lunch or $22.99 for dinner.  That includes unlimited appetizers, salads, and hot food at the bar but no meat from the gauchos (those are the dudes that walk around 1,000 times a day carrying meat on a stick).  Oh, you want meat too?  Then you should order the Full Rodizio at $19.99 for lunch or $34.99 for dinner.  This includes the salad bar, too, so when you do the math, you actually can end up spending a lot less here than at other restaurants.  Bringing the fam?  Kids 7-12 are $9.99 all day, kids 3-6 are $6.99 all day, and any younger than that is no charge.

So, let’s get down to it…

The Appetizers

When your server greets you, you’ll need to figure out what you want.  Hint:  order The Full Rodizio.  Whatever you order, you’ll be given a platter of fried bananas and glazed pineapple to help your digestion…and you’ll need lots of digestion with what’s in store. Just when you think you’d had enough starters, they bring ya a plate of crispy polenta fries dusted with parm and some Pao de Queijo, that’s Brazilian bread made with some yucca flour and cheese.  These were both ok, but with what’s in store, we’d recommend not filling yourself up on ’em.

The Drinks

We had heard that the drinks here are great, so we leapt in.  Kristien ordered the sangria.  She really liked it because you could actually taste the wine and liquor in it and it wasn’t weak.  Just the right mixture.  Although I have had a caipirinha in the past and didn’t love it, I decided to go with the experts at Rodizio.  I wasn’t disappointed and actually found my most favorite drink in the world!  Caipirinha is made from a liquor distilled from sugar cane called cachaça and is a Brazilian national favorite.  If you love lime, this is your drink.  The lime flavor is bright, refreshing, and the liquor is just right here.  I polished off three of those and even tried a different version at the end of the night, the caipituba.  It was the same drink but then they added in Ubatuba Guarana, a fruit only from the Amazon.  This was much sweeter than the original drink because of the fruit and had lots of fizz.  I’ll stick with my caipirinha, though I bet lots would like the sweeter caipituba.

The Salad Bar

There are too many options to mention, but there are plenty of veggie salads, pasta salads, potato salad, coleslaws, cheeses,olives, veggies, bread and even hot dishes like mashed potatoes, penne Alfredo and more!  While you can look at the full list here, we’ll go through some of what we ate so you know what to pile up on.  While the potato salad was just okay, the macaroni salad was great with bits of tomatoes in it.  The fennel salad had celery, raisin, and apples all mixed in to make a very good, refreshing salad.  The quinoa salad was light, fresh, and herby.  The pork salad was good and served cold.  Cubes of pork mixed in with peanuts, raisins, and celery with an Asian inspiration twist.  And…wow was the Coconut grilled pineapple slaw very coconutty! Yeah, I made that word up.   The mashed potatoes were buttery and creamy with chunks of red potatoes and potato skins and the rice and beans were tasty too!

The Cue and the Guachos

The gauchos are very knowledgeable and will help you with whatever you might need.  One of our favorites, Chris, sought out the Assado (pot roast) just for us because he is just that awesome.  He made us laugh throughout the night with his goofy antics.  Our other favorite gaucho was Ricardo who came from Brazil just five years ago.  He told us that we could tell them how we wanted our meat – rare, medium rare, medium…however we liked it, and they’d get it for us.  Ricardo also talked to us about Brazil and where we should visit if we took a trip there.  Really great people working here.  Well, onto the food.

If you’ve ordered the Full Rodizio, flip your red/green cue over to green.  Now, pay attention.  They won’t stop bringing your meat until you turn it over to red.  Seriously, the gauchos are like the Energizer bunny…but you are in control.  We flipped our cue over, grabbed our tongs to pull off the meat as they cut it and let the madness begin!

The Meat from the Gauchos

1) My favorite cut was a cube of Picanha com Parmesao (parmesan sirloin) that was cooked medium.  The beef was juicy, while the parm brought a nice kick and contrast to the earthiness of the meat.  This, along with the all the other beef dishes was very salty. Kristien and I both like it that way, but not everyone will.

2) The Maminha, tri tip sirloin, was good, a drier cut.  This was one of our least favorite, but we’d probably try it again medium rare.

3) Up next was Fraldinha, beef tender.  The flavor is intense, very earthy.  This is a beef lover’s favorite pick.

4) Things got switched up when the Presunto (glazed ham) came over.  Kristien shouted out, “Oooooh,” and I knew it had to be good.  She usually doesn’t like ham one bit.  The skin was really amazing with the sweet caramelized glaze.  Definitely be sure you get some of that.  I loved it too and proceeded to take some of hers.

5) Kristien had another delight when she took a bite of the Alcatra, the whole sirloin.  Her favorite part was the burnt fatty ends.  This cut was served to us medium well, was juicy, and full of flavor.

6) Peru Com Bacon (turkey wrapped in bacon) was up next.  This was tied with the parmesan sirloin as my favorite cut of the night.  Nice and juicy turkey was wrapped in bacon.  Over the rotisserie the turkey just absorbs all that beautiful smokiness and flavor from the bacon. Kristien didn’t love this one and thought the turkey meat was fatty.
7)  No, we weren’t going to stop, we needed more!  The next slice was the Picanha, the top sirloin.  Ricardo told us this is the most popular cut of beef in Brazil.  It was cooked medium rare, was juicy, and melted like butter.
8)  The meat sweats began at this point, but we trudged on!  The Linguica is a Brazilian pork sausage that came out sizzling.  It was smoky and had a similar taste to a kielbasa.  Try the crispier ends if you see them, or just ask for them.  There’s nothing like that snap when you get down into the sausage.
9) Changing things up again, we were brought Frango Agri-Doce, sweet and spicy chicken.  Yeah, they aren’t lying.  It’s spicy…we love that.  No fake promises here.  The chicken was tender, juicy, and was another of our favorites of the night.  If you like hot wings, this will be one of your go to dishes.
10) We missed our Abacaxi fix while we were up at the salad bar, so Ricardo brought some for us.  The glazed pineapple was great, juicy, and was oh so sweet.  Ricardo’s advice:  keep some on the side and pair it with your chicken and pork dishes.
11)  As mentioned before, Chris had the Assado brought out to us and we were delighted with this pot roast.  The meat was tender, flaky, and was served with onions, potatoes, celery, and carrots, though I only got some onions.  That’s okay, I didn’t really have any room.  Oh, but you know there’s room for dessert when it comes to OmNomCT!
Dessert
I ordered the Brigadeiro Royal Banana Sundae.  The chocolate cake was light, fluffy, and SUPER duper moist.  The sprinkles all around the cake were fun, too.  Next to the cake was some vanilla ice cream, bananas, and lots of chocolate sauce.  My suggestion would be to dip different parts of the dessert into the chocolate sauce and let the fun begin.  Kristien loved this, maybe even more than I did.
Kristien had Pudim de Leite, a creamy Brazilian caramel flan.  It was definitely creamy and the sauce was flavorful and wasn’t overly sweet like flan sauces can be at times.
Overall Verdict
Rodizio Grill has made it in two other states, has ventured out into Connecticut, and will soon be open in Massachusetts and Minnesota in April.  Although there are some Brazilian restaurants in the area, the ones that we’ve been have had dry, bland meat and kind of lame salad bars, including the much loved Copacabana in Port Chester, which we only liked a tad bit.  The gauchos are smart, funny, knowledgeable, helpful and courteous.  The servers can be a bit flighty and quite slow, but that’s not really fair to say because this was a special VIP meal the day before their grand opening.  I think most of us would be trying to figure things out as the night went along, too.  As for the price, it’s pretty good, especially if you go for lunch.  The salad bar has a great variety of food, the meat that the gauchos bring along is of great quality, too.  Yes, the beef had the tendency to be a bit salty, but this is common for Brazilian meat.  Another added benefit of dining here is that 90% of the menu is gluten-free, yup.  You hear that Dream Desserts and all our friends who live gluten-free?  So, overall, we liked Rodizio Grill and will definitely come back.  In fact, we’re taking Kristien’s parents here after we see The Wall at Yankee Stadium later this year.  Well, we’ll be back without them too.  ;)
Rodizio Grill
Noms:  3.5 (down from 3.75 after a visit on 12/2/12.  Food just wasn’t as good.)
Cost: $$$
Address: 5 Broad Street (next to Target)
                 Stamford, CT
Phone: 203.964.9177
Monday – Thursday:  Lunch:11am-4pm and Dinner:4pm-10pm
Friday – Saturday:  Lunch:11am-4pm and Dinner:4pm-11pm
Sunday:  Lunch:11am-4pm and Dinner:4pm-10pm
Rodizio Grill on Urbanspoon

Getting Fired Up About Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza? – Darien, CT

13 Feb

The Paul & Young Ron Pizza

Ok, so hear us out.  We’ve never been fans of chain restaurants for a few reasons.  Usually, you’re served up sodium and preservative laden frozen meals that are so blah that you feel robbed of your calorie allowance for the day.  But we pushed these thoughts aside for Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza because a bunch of people recommended it, including Froggy on the Z100 morning show who said he was in love with their pizza.  Plus, Anthony’s twitter manager had been twalking us (Twitter stalking duh) to get us to try out their pies, so we had to oblige!

When we got to this new Darien spot, owned by Anthony Bruno and Dan Marino of the Miami Dolphin’s, we were sooooo hungry. So needless to say we were a little bummed when we were told there was a 40 minute wait, but then totally happy again when the wait only turned out to be 20 minutes. Love when that happens!  Plus, it was just enough time for us to pick out what we were going to eat.   Yeah, if you’re a serious eater, that’s the strategy:  get the menu while you wait. So here’s the play by play…

Game plan:  some roasted chicken wings, Anthony’s Classic Italian Salad, and the Paul & Young Ron pizza. Oh and craft beers, duh.

As we sat down, our very friendly server Tara told us about Anthony’s, in short:  always fresh, never frozen and “pizza well done.” More on the well done part in a sec.  Lucky for us, from 4-7 you can get $1 off draft beers, so you best believe we partook in some hoppiness.  Hoppiness, is a cold beer after all (get it?).  I asked for a Hooker, a Blonde one in fact, and yes I giggled when I ordered it.  Danny went with Blue Point Brewery from Long Island — the Hoptical Illusion and the Toasted Lager.

Touchdown:  Oven Roasted Chicken Wings

These wings are great, but they’re not your typical chicken wing at all.  Before they even roast them in their 800 degree coal oven, they marinate them overnight in salt, pepper, and rosemary.  The results?  The outside of the wings are crispy, a bit charred, and are full of flavor, especially with hints of rosemary.  The inside of the wings were nice and juicy, too.  Yeah, so the wings were great, but then they add on about 30 lbs. of beautifully caramelized onions.  Awww yeah my favorite.  For a different taste, put some of the onions on the wings, then chomp down. Also, try the same thing with the focaccia bread.  We will definitely order these again.

20 Yard Gain:  Anthony’s Classic Italian Salad with mozzarella

On the menu it says, “Enough for Two,” but we have to disagree.  It’s probably enough for four.  :)  The salad was piled on with lettuce, eggs, chickpeas, olives, red onion, tomato, celery, and some mozzarella.  They serve it up with a nice golden Italian dressing that has just the right balance of flavors.  Overall a much bigger, heartier salad than what most pizza joints serve up.

Field Goal:  Paul & Young Ron Pizza

And, we went bowling afterwards where I proceeded to kick Danny's butt! : O

So, back to their slogan:  “Pizza Well Done.”  Basically, they just cook the pie until the crust becomes thick and not floppy, which, in a coal oven, usually means the outside is cooked well done, with a bit of char.  If you don’t like pizza cooked this way, you won’t like Anthony’s. But if you do, you’ll like how crispy and thick this crust is. It’s definitely not the kind of crust you’ve seen from places like Pepe’s or Colony Grill.  We’d say it’s a medium thickness, putting it somewhere between Chicago style and thin crust style. It was a bit on the dry side, but not too bad.

Now, onto the toppings:  meatballs, sausage, hot peppers, and ricotta.  Their toppings are super big and chunky.  Yeah, not the kind of place where you get a lame amount of toppings and come out disappointed.  Danny said his stingers were spicy, but the peppers I had weren’t really.  The sauce was zesty but didn’t overpower all the other ingredients.  The meatballs were big, plump, and kept their juiciness even through the baking in the coal oven.  This is definitely a hearty, hearty pie, so you’re going to fill up faster than at other pizza spots.  But, that’s okay;  That just means you’ve got more leftovers the next morning. In fact, Danny woke up the next day, dove right into the leftovers and declared it was really great cold, especially with the creamy ricotta.  Heating it up again, the pizza was still just as good and crispy which is always nice.

The Final Score

Yeah, we dug Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza for the most part.  My dad is a huge fan of pizza that’s well done, so he has already put it on his list of places for us to take him when he’s visiting.  We’d come back to get those wings, get some beers, try out some of the other pizzas and definitely try the ribs which we hear are delish.  If we’re ever in Darien for lunch, we’ll be sure to check out their lunch size pizzas and meals.  So, this is a good place to try out, especially if you’re one of those crazy Connecticuters who like thicker crust pizza.

Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza

Noms:  3.5

Cost:  $$$

Address: 319 Boston Post Road, Darien, CT 06920

Phone: (203) 655 – 2625

Site:  http://anthonyscoalfiredpizza.com

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/#!/AnthonysCFPizza

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Downhome Italian fare hits downtown at Rizzuto’s New Locale – Stamford, CT

8 Dec

Antipasto has been proven* to elevate mood and happiness

We were first introduced to Rizzuto’s way back in April at Fairfield County Eats, an awesome event where  you can sample some of the awesome food that Fairfield County has to offer while helping to raise money for the Food Bank of Lower Fairfield County.  When we came to Rizzuto’s table we were all over their nice spread of antipasto and various other delectable treats.  It definitely made us want to get out to Westport to try more.  Well, we didn’t ever get out there, but we were excited to find out that Rizzuto’s would open up shop in our stomping grounds where Route 22 used to be.   Ever the rabid restaurant seekers and food mongers, we drove on down and checked things out after just their second day in business.  These are our stories…dong dong.

The Look and Service

There’s lots of exposed brick all around with a TON of room to move around and for tables.  If you’re looking for a place to have a party or a family get together, or just a casual Italian food run, this is your spot. It’s huge and totally laid back, but a nice step up from an eat-in pizza joint. Also, there’s a nice, huge wood fired brick oven in the middle cooking up pizzay-goodness.

The Antipasto

We really loved the selection of antipasto that’s available here at Rizzuto’s.  One of the best selections in our area for sure! You can select from cured meats, artisan cheeses, or vegetables.  Mere amateurs only get prosciutto di parma, or Parmigiano-Reggiano, or roasted frying peppers.  If you’re a Level 20 Eater, you’d select one of their sharing platters: Rizzuto’s Antipasto Platter, Cured Meat and Cheese Board, or Cheese and Vegetable Platter.  Not wanting to feel super guilty, we got the Antipasto Platter.  We got Prosciutto di Parma, Soppressata Calabrese, Parmigiano-Reggiano, pistachio crusted goat cheese, Mediterranean olives, and roasted frying peppers.  This heavenly platter came with honey, a sinfully awesome cranberry mustard, and a well-balanced apricot jam.  The meats were fresh, the cheeses flavorful, the olives had an orange zesty taste, and the peppers were roasted to softness and went nicely with the provolone.  If you don’t have a piece of the fig bread in your platter, be sure to ask if there is some in the kitchen.  It’s just re-freaking-donkulous! The best antipasto platter we’ve had in Fairfield County!

The Pizza

I’m a sucker for rich pizzas.  I had to get the guanciale and potato pizza at Tappo when I saw it, then regretted how heavy it was 3/4 of the way in.  Well, a stubborn Italian doesn’t learn his lesson because the lure of potato and sausage on a pie is just too much for me to handle.  So, I got the sausage and potato pizza that had broccoli rate, roasted garlic, and Parmigiano-Reggiano with it.  The crust was light and fluffy, similar to the consistency of zeppole.  The sausage was great and had a great fennel taste to it, the potatoes were crispy and golden, but the broccoli rabe was a bit overcooked and was bitter.  The pie comes with hot oil on the side…hell yeah.  It’s not that hot, though, don’t worry.  This was a very rich pie, but it was still good.  Like I said with Tappo’s pie, I’d share this with another person.

The Pasta

Kristien ordered Sunday Gravy:  housemade braised veal braciole, meatballs, sausage, all over fettuccine.  The braciole was delicate, fell apart with light pulling, and was cooked well.  The meatballs, on the other hand, were too meaty and solid for Kristien’s taste. She wasn’t into it. She prefers lighter, less condensed meatballs…like her grandma’s or Michael Psilakis’s or Bacchus’s.  The sausage was spicy and full of flavor.  In terms of the pasta, it was served perfectly al dente.  The sauce that held this all together was average, but nothing amazing.  It held its own, though, and held the dish together.

Dessert

Are you like us and throughout the meal you say, “No, no…we’re not going to have dessert.  We’ve already eaten so much.”  Yeah, that never works.  We gave in when we saw the apple and dried cherry crostata with dulce de leche gelato.  The filling was great and tasted like a burst of fall.  There was an overwhelmingly beautiful cinnamon smell wafting through the air.  The dough, though, could have used a bit more cooking. It was a bit raw.

Overall Impressions

Rizzuto’s in Stamford has the potential to be a main stay of families and casual dinners, although it runs a little expensive for a go-to spot.  There’s plenty of seating, especially for big parties, the service is extremely warm and friendly, and the antipasti is killer here.  Some of the best moments of any meal are spent just omnoming here and there on some meats or cheeses and catching up on life.  In terms of the meals, they are good, but have some room to grow.  We (and our readers) need to remember, though, that this was just their second day in business.  So, cheers to Rizzuto’s.  Many happy years ahead.

Rizzuto’s

Noms: 3.5

Cost: $$$

Address:  1980 West Main Street

Stamford, CT 06902

Phone:    (203) 324-5900

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A Dog Gone Good Time at Burger Bar & Bistro – South Norwalk, CT

25 Oct

Om nom nom nom hot dog nom nom nom

Burger Bar & Bistro in SoNo has gone to the dogs…literally. And we like it that way! See, when our friend Melissa Gautier told us that they had a new doggy menu a few weeks ago, we knew we had to try it out STAT.  I mean you know how big of dog people we are, right? So we gathered up our pup, Maynard, and took him down to SoNo for some outside dining.  And of course, while we were there we figured that we might as well enjoy some great burgers and sides too, duh!

Maynard’s Meal

Om nom nom nom ice cream nom nom

Let’s start off with the dog menu!  When we sat down we were greeted by the new owner, Pat, a big dog lover who has been changing up Burger Bar and making it awesome for the past 9 months.  For Maynard’s first course, Pat brought him a nice cup filled with Gifford’s Vanilla Ice cream and an iced bowl of water. From the look of Maynard’s crazy eyes in the picture above, I think you can tell he loved it! For his second course we debated between the  4 oz. Angus patty w/ American cheese or the 6 oz. chicken breast with American cheese, but ultimately decided to give him the 4 oz. all beef hot dog with American cheese with a side of sweet potato fries, skins on.  When Maynard got the hot dog it was split in half and grilled nicely.  Of course like any dog would do when presented with yumminess, he tried to down it all in one bite.  Hell, we turned away for one second to have a bite of our burgers and it was gone! Yeah! He also liked the fries, but at that point he was so full he actually stopped himself after a few. Hm, he apparently has more self control than his parents! : 0

Sides

Now onto the people food! As soon as we sat down at our table, we had a nice bowl of crispy and lightly salted, homemade potato chips. Yum. When we checked in we saw Foursquare reccos for the Disco Fries and heard the people next to us raving about them. Yep, that’s fries smothered in warm brie cheese sprinkled with white truffle oil.  OMG! But, being the cheese wuss that Danny is, he just couldn’t do it! Bummer! So, instead of making a real choice at that point, we decided to go for the sidekick sampler – that’s four sides for just 8 measly bucks. Perfect for the foodie commitmentphobes we are. Here are the sides we nommed on:

1) Mac & Cheese:  You know what a Mac & Cheese freak I am so I can say this one was very unique and very good.  It’s made with Pecorino, Cheddar & Parmesan Cheese, Pasta, Cream & Seasoned Bread Crumbs.  The Pecorino Romano adds a wicked kick and makes this memorable. You’d think with all these harder cheeses it wouldn’t be creamy, but it totally was.

2) Frickles:  Hands down the best fried pickles that we’ve ever had.  Not breaded too much, not soggy, not too much salt, and still maintained its pickleness. DELISH!

3) Onion rings:  The smaller rings were good and crispy, but the bigger ones had too much breading and that made the breading too doughy and not done.  The flavor was good, but wouldn’t say these were great.

4) Green fries:  We didn’t know what these were, but our friend Darryl actually left a Foursquare tip saying these were awesome.  Man, we love Foursquare.  So yeah, these were lightly breaded, seasoned green beans. A crispy batter over equally crispy green beans. All in all, pretty solid.

Burgers

B.E.C. Burger. Yes, those are french fries.

So onto the burgers. Pink or not pink, those are your options for ordering burgers here.  Of course we both got ‘um pink, but settled on different ones.  Danny got the B.E.C. burger:  piled up with applewood smoked bacon, a runny egg, double the American cheese, a handful of fries, and spicy ketchup.  Danny actually thought the french fries came on the side so he was surprised to see them as part of the burger.  The burger, upgraded to Kobe for $4, was medium (only slightly pink unfortunately), juicy, and full of beefy flavor.  The toppings jived so well together and Danny swears it’s killer.  So killer, in fact, he thinks it should be renamed Heart Attack Burger.

The Boomer Burger in its goat cheesy creaminess

I got the Boomer, a burger with mushrooms and goat cheese, sprinkled with truffle oil. Surprise goat cheese. Man, I’m so predictable.  It was cooked more than Danny’s and wasn’t pink, so that was a disappointment. Because of that, it wasn’t as moist as I had hoped.  What the burger lacked in “doneness,” it gained in flavor from the toppings.  The mushrooms were sautéed nicely and the burger was coated with a nice smathering of goaty cheesiness.  The truffle oil?  Just the right amount to add that nice earthy kick that you can only get from truffle oil.

Overall Impressions

Burger Bar & Bistro has really improved their service, offerings, and food since changing owners.  The burgers are not the best we’ve had, but they’re solid.  They may just need to spend less time on the grill if they are ordered pink.  The sides are very good overall and worth ordering a bunch of.  They have a nice beer selection to boot, with Danny downing some Oskar Blues Gubna–that’s 10% abv, wusses.  Just as great and so much cuter is the dog menu.  Seriously, can anybody compete with that?  Top it off with Wednesday Dog Nights, free wi-fi, Trivia Tuesday, Karaoke Thursday, and a Football Tailgate menu Saturday-Monday nights and you’ve got an awesome spot.

Noms: 3.5

Cost: $$$
 
 Burger Bar & Bistro
Address: 60 North Main Street
South Norwalk (SoNo), CT
Phone:  (203) 853-2037
Site: http://www.burgerbarandbistro.com
FB: https://www.facebook.com/BurgerBarSono?sk=wall
 
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The New Grand Burger, Grander than We Expected. Grand Burger – Stamford, CT

20 Aug

Bet ya' can't have just one? ;)

Danny and I first hit up Grand back in 2009 during a Stamford Restaurant Week. Now, I had been there a couple times before in a different phase of my life – once for drinks with a client (too loud) and another time in my single days (too meat-market-ish). Back then I didn’t even know they served food, so we weren’t sure what to expect when we went for dinner. I remember it being a little weird (is it a club? is it a restaurant?), a little dead (we were one of only two tables eating), and a little “meh” (the food was not bad but not great, though I was a huge fan of their truffle mac & cheese). But when we heard Grand Burger Restaurant Lounge partnered with Norwalk Burger Bar & Bistro chef, Nick Bilello, this past July to completely revamp their menu into a burger bar, we thought we at least had to give it another shot. So we did, and here’s what we thought:

Ambiance: The best way to describe the ambiance is confused. Nothing’s really changed from before other than some additional tables out on the sidewalk. While the ambiance is nice, sleek and modern, it definitely still feels very much like a night club / lounge. Actually, it still is, which definitely makes for a weird vibe for a burger bar. In fact, while dining out on the sidewalk we overheard a few people walk by making comments like “it’s too fancy there,” or “that looks too expensive.” While in reality, neither of these are true, it certainly does appear that way.

Starters: They start you off with some complimentary homemade potato chips with a sour cream based dill dip. The chips were good, nice and dark as I like ’em, but a bit over-seasoned. The dip was nice and refreshing though, with light flavor. They also have a nice selection of other non-burger items (appropriately called “not burgers”) to choose from for starters including their delicious truffle and gruyere mac & cheese I mentioned earlier, mussels & fries, quesadillas, naan & hummus, a few salads and a couple oyster dishes. I started with six Wellfleet oysters because I never say no to Oysters, ya heard? The oysters were fresh and came with all the accoutrements you come to expect with raw oysters: lemon wedges, slightly spicy cocktail sauce and a vinegar mignonette (that’s fancy talk for red wine vinegar, shallots and black pepper). Danny started with the chopped vegetable salad which featured string beans, bibb lettuce, baby tomatoes, artichokes, cucumbers, salami cubes and mozzarella. It was a good size with a healthy serving of veggies and a nice light vinaigrette dressing that Danny really enjoyed.

Forest Burger with goat cheese and mushrooms

Burgers: The menu featured a nice variety of creative burgers to choose from. I had to go for the Forest Burger because it had goat cheese on it, and if you’ve read anything we’ve written at all, you know I have a certifiable addiction. Yes, so it had whipped goat cheese, woodland mushrooms and honey (oh.my.gawd.). The bun was very good, nice and ooey gooey and the toppings were a seriously delicious combination of yumminess. The burger itself was cooked medium rare as I asked and was a nice size, not too thin, not too honking huge. The meat seemed high-quality and fresh, though it was a little bland. Either way, the toppings made up for it. Danny, being the brave soul that he is, always up for a challenge, went for the Elvis Burger. And what do you think would come on the Elvis Burger? Yup, you got it: peanut butter, bacon and banana chips. Eeeek. While I absolutely refused to take a bite of the concoction, Danny gobbled it down like a champ. He is still raving about it as I type this. He absolutely loved it and felt the same way I did about the burger itself and the bun.

Elvis Burger with peanut butter, banana chips, and bacon

Sides: Being pretty darn full and anticipating our need (yes, need) for dessert, we decided to share an order of tater tots with homemade Dr. Nutz BBQ sauce, which is made with Dr. Pepper and Nutella. The tots were really good. Nice and crispy and a little greasy like they should be. But the BBQ sauce, yeah the BBQ sauce was better than really good, it was fan-freakin-tastic! It was seriously like a flavor explosion in your mouth, slightly sweet, slightly savory, not-so-slightly awesome!

Dessert: Ok, so I’m talking about the Banana Split Milkshake Danny had in the dessert section, but let it be known this was actually Danny’s first course. Yeah, that’s how he rolls. He definitely liked the flavor combo of caramel, banana and vanilla ice cream but would’ve liked the shake to be thicker. While I was tempted by some of the adult milkshakes (mixed with various liqueurs), I opted for the Banana Bread Pudding French Toast, because here again, is another one of my certifiable addictions. To be clear, the name of this dish is a little misleading. It was not a bread pudding at all, nor was it banana bread. Instead it was two pieces of french toast with strawberries and bananas on the side drizzled in chocolate and caramel. The french toast was ok, a little dry and bland. I wouldn’t get this again, but I would order the Icebox cake which looked fantastic.

So for everyone that walked by and thought Grand Burger Restaurant Lounge was too swanky for a casual dinner, don’t be fooled. Yes, it may still get packed with mini skirt wearing hotties and fist-pumping dudes after midnight, but until then it’s a great place to go for some solid, tasty and creative down-home American grub.

Grand Burger Restaurant Lounge

Noms: 3.5

Cost:  $$$

Address: 15 Bank Street

Stamford, CT 06901

Phone:  (203) 323-3232

Site:  http://www.stamfordgrand.com

FB:  http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002570220826

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Reliable Euro-esque outdoor dining in the heart of Stamford. Capriccio Café-Stamford, CT

3 Jun

You can tell when the weather is nice again because Capriccio Café on Bedford Street in Stamford is poppin’!  People sitting outside buzzing with conversation, enjoying some nice Italian food and wine, relaxing, and people watching.  Yeah, seeing the crowded outdoor dining on Bedford Street is a way better indicator of spring and summer than weather.com.

After we got to check out Zaza with Nick Racanelli Jr., we were jonesin’ for some food.  Capriccio Café has always been a nice go-to spot for dependable food in a nice atmosphere, so we were down to enjoy the beautiful night.  We started with one of our favorites, the antipasto misto.  A nice mixture (misto) of prosciutto, dry sausage, bresaola, speck, parmigiano, arugula, olives, and roasted peppers that’s big enough to share with two people.  Our favorite thing to do is take little bits of meat and cheese then stack that on the fork with the olive or the roasted peppers, then take a sip of wine.

For our meals, Kristien had the Gravina bruschetta and I had the Boscaiola pizza.  As our ritual, we take some shots of the food to make OmNomCT look oh so pretty.  Well, a funny thing happened.  One of the owners came by and said he just saw us talking with Nick Jr. at Zaza down the street.  We are pretty sure that he thought we were secret agents, working for Nick, ready to steal the recipes of Capriccio Café.  We assured him that we were just taking pics for our blog, but we’re still not sure if he believes us.  Do ya believe us now?

So, the Gravina!  Kristien’s face dropped in defeat after uttering the words just a few minutes before, “This will be a nice light dinner.”  Hahaha, no freaking way.  The thing was piled high and only cost $9.  I’ve got to hand it to her, she had lots of self control and didn’t knock it all down.  The bruschetta crust was nice and doughy, served cold, and was piled with gooey glops of goat cheese.  Fresh tomato chunks, soft cannellini beans, onions, and arugula all jived well together on top.  This dish would have been top notch if a real nice aged balsamic was sprinkled on top.  Instead, it was a good dish that could use a flavor spike, not a great dish.

My pizza, however, rocked it.  Ever since going to Italy, I’ve been obsessed with arugula and will even eat it alone now just for that peppery, earthy taste.  Whatever–don’t judge, don’t hate.  :)  Also for $9, you get a nice pie, served with tomato sauce, mozzarella, sausage, portobello mushrooms, and–damn skippy–arugula.  The crust was thin and crispy, setting off nicely with the earthiness of the mushrooms, the savoriness of the sausage, and the peppery taste of the arugula.  I had no problems at all devouring it.  They were light on the sauce, but I like it that way.  Too much and I feel like I’m swimming.

Later, when we finished, we talked with the same owner again because we noticed that Volta gelato was on the menu.  DING DING…after going to Bar Rosso we were mystified by Volta Gelateria Creperia next door.  Well, Capriccio Café is opening up Volta next door and we got a glimpse into what it will be like.

So, what it comes down to is you can always count on having a nice, quick, pretty cheap bite to eat at Capriccio Café.   Enjoy the nice spring, summer, and fall days sitting outside and watching the people stroll down Bedford Street.

Noms: 3.5

Cost: $$

Capriccio Café

Address:  189 Bedford Street

Stamford, CT

Phone:  (203) 356-9819

Site:  http://www.capriccio-cafe.com

Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/?ref=logo#!/Capriccio.Cafe



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