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A Feast of Classic Rustic Italian with Modern Flare @ Bar Sugo – Norwalk, CT

5 Mar

How’s this for a greeting while you’re waiting at the bar for your table?  A manager comes up to you, gives you a plate of prosciutto-wrapped truffle fries, then gives you the following message from the chef:  “It’s about damn time.”  Yeah, it was about damn time we got down to Bar Sugo in Norwalk and Chef/owner Pat Pascarella had the right to call it like it is!  He had invited us several times and had even invited us to the inaugural Vinsotto wine event, but the world always seemed to conspire against us going.  Yet, here we were at the cozy and rustic Bar Sugo, ready for what would be a meal of epic proportions.

We decided that we’d take it easy, sampling a few things on the menu.  Starting off, we’d go with three cicchetti (Italian for small snacks) that were $7.50 each, 3 for $20, or 5 for $30, we’d go for three mozzarellas (same pricing as the cicchetti), the meatball sampler, and we’d end up with the cavatelli that both Mark Famous and Andrew Dominick recommended when they saw our check-in.  It’s cool to have foursquare friends who love to eat!  Well, that was the plan anyway.  Yes, we got our dishes, but Chef Pat provided us with even more so we could get a full taste of what Bar Sugo was all about.  By the time we were done, we tried 24 different items on the menu (that includes the Barrel Aged Negroni and the wine).  Ugh, we think we’re still full! Ready for the most epic review ever captured on our blog?

Asparagus with duck prosciutto, and black pepper

The asparagus came two ways:  raw and pickled.  Having both on the dish was a nice idea, but we really loved the vinegary pickle vs. the bitterness of the raw.  The duck prosciutto was really great and wasn’t overpowering despite the saltiness you expect from a cured meat.

Rabbit loin with lentils, prunes, and mustard oil at Bar Sugo in Norwalk

Rabbit loin with lentils, prunes, and mustard oil

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The Fez in Stamford Hosts 6 Course Starry Night Winery Dinner

15 Feb


When people meet us out at events or parties, they tend to shoot right to the important question:  what’s your favorite restaurant?  That’s a really tough one to answer, especially because there are so many different kinds, price ranges, cuisines, and such…but, invariably, The Fez in Stamford is always a part of our conversation.  We’ve never had a bad meal there and people that we’ve sent on over have come back happy, satisfied, and ready for more.

If you’ve never been, we have a perfect opportunity to cozy up with this Moroccan/Mediterranean stalwart on 2/19 at 6:45:  a Starry Night Winery.  For just $69, you’ll get six glasses of wine from Starry Night Winery in California paired with some of The Fez’s favorite treats:

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Reap Our First Tastes of Harvest: New American Farm to Table in Greenwich, CT

4 Feb

Mac and cheese can be pretty traditional everywhere you go. Sure, sometimes you might get a fun, surprise ingredient like truffle oil, lobster, bacon, or jalapeno, but usually it’s fairly safe. But, if you’re Harvest Wine Bar & Restaurant in Greenwich, safe and traditional aren’t even in their vocabulary. Instead, their EPIC baked mac and cheese is made from fresh, housemade cavatelli mixed with Cabot white cheddar, fontina cheese, and the pièce de résistance, a hearty amount of short ribs that have been braising in red wine all day, all topped with crispy, crunchy bread crumbs. This awesomeness set the tone for the night of the special pre-opening party!

Short rib mac + cheese

Short rib mac + cheese

During the night we met Vicente Siguenza, owner and manager of the amazing Cava, Scena, and 55 Wine Bar & Restaurant. And, we were geeked out to meet the man behind the food, Chef Eben Leonard. He came out with both our dishes and talked about how he prepared them and how they had evolved over time. Just the day before Eben and his sous chefs cooked every single dish on the menu and all the staff at the restaurant had to taste them. Our server that night said she was throwing the food down like a rock star at first, but then she soon realized the Herculean task set before her and took it a bit easier. The tasting is part of what sets Harvest aside from many other restaurants. They want the staff to know what they are bringing to the table and they want the staff to be able to help people order.

Talking a bit more about the menu, it’s divided up into a few parts that will have you coming back for more. Raw specials (like tartare), snacks and shares, starters, seconds, wood fire grilled steakhouse choices, sides, and desserts. If you’re a wine lover, you’ll be happy to know that they are staring with 120 bottles and will also have 30 different glasses of wine for your drinking pleasure. There are also some beer options, with Half Full taking up 2/3 drafts with their Bright Ale and IPA. Now, back to the food…

Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad

Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad

Kristien sank down into the short rib mac & cheese, and Dan ordered the shaved Brussels sprout salad, atop a parmesan risotto cake, sprinkled with truffle vinaigrette. When Chef Leonard spoke to us about the dish, we were surprised (and a bit scared) when he told us that the dish before us consisted of raw shredded Brussels sprouts. Raw? Regardless, Dan dug in and really loved the strong cheese flavor that was packed into the sprouts. There was really a great contrast going on there: the richness of the cheese paired with the earthy, slightly bitter taste of the sprouts. The risotto cake beneath had a crispy crust and added a nice solid crunch from the crispy crust. The inside probably could have used just a bit more cooking, but that didn’t stop Dan from devouring every last bite.

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Morello Bistro: A Tour Through Chef Pasternack’s Tasty Tasting Menu – Greenwich, CT

16 Nov

Update:  Chef Forrest Pasternack has left Morello and is now Executive Chef at Bailey’s Backyard.  Taking his place is Executive Chef Kevin Garcia.

One of the great things about being OmNomCT is getting treated to special opportunities for blogger and press dinners. This one was especially tasty.  As we entered Morello Bistro (owned by MARC of London), we were taken aback at how beautiful this Greenwich spot was.  Stunningly beautiful, actually, with massive, tiled arches, and a dome ceiling.  Yes, a seriously amazing place.  Normally you’d think that a place with such natural beauty in the heart of Greenwich would cost you your organs, your arms, your legs, and a few extra appendages, but you’d be wrong.  The crew at Morello Bistro are really trying to keep things at affordable prices.  Brunch entrees range from $9-27, lunch from $13-26, and dinner from $18-38.

We were invited to this press dinner to celebrate not only four years in business, but also Chef Forrest Pasternack’s new gig as Executive Chef.  Now, this guy’s been around the proverbial block a few times.   Maybe that’s because he started young.  He worked at Kabuki, an Asian restaurant in Danbury that his adoptive parents owned.  Soon he found himself as kitchen manager and heading to the CIA (no, not to become a spy…Culinary Institute of America, duh) to fulfill his passion to cook.  Even while he was getting his degree, Chef Pasternack worked at Zoe Restaurant in Manhattan and The Town Crier in Pawling, NY.  From there, he found himself working at some killer spots:  Soho Grand Hotel in NY, Marcus Samuelson’s Aquavit, Mario Batali’s Esca, and David Chang’s oft-praised Momofuku.  In 2009 he took his skills to Greenwich, CT and became executive chef of Terra Restaurant.  Now…well, now Morello Bistro is lucky enough to have him.

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Ole! Olio brings amazing downtown flare and flavor to Springdale – Stamford, CT

30 Jul

Living in the Springdale neighborhood of Stamford, we’ve been waiting 5 years for a delicious, downtown-esque restaurant to open up within walking distance of our home. Well, we are happy to say Olio has made it happen! Now if you remember from our last post announcing Olio, it is not Italian like you might think. Actually, it’s kind of hard to put your fork on what exactly Olio is.  It’s sort of New American, Nuevo Latino with Italian influence and it totally works!  Here’s why:

The Service

Kind, helpful, and quick would sum it up.  If the water was close to empty, it was filled. Your wine was poured for you when it ran low.  Don’t you love that? :)  Moira Hyland, co-0wner with Chef Steve, even made her way around the restaurant to make sure things were going perfectly. As we eavesdropped, we heard some amazingly positive feedback.

The Food

Although the menu fit on one page, it was very difficult to narrow down our picks.  In the end, we came up with a great strategy:  we’d share each app and each entree, giving each of us four different tastes.  Oh, but there’s dessert too, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Starting off, you get some soft Italian bread that you can dip in a roasted pepper and olive tapenade or a white bean hummus.  The olive tapenade was salty (not too salty), full of that olive bite, and tangy from the peppers and the white bean hummus was creamy and had nice hints of garlic. We asked for more of that, omnomrific!

We started with seared sea scallops with smoked cauliflower fondue and sweet & sour golden raisins.  The fondue was light, but yet was still full of flavor.  The raisins added a wonderful brightness that balanced out the seafood flavor from the scallops.  The scallops were cooked perfectly, the sauce added a great sweet taste, and the cauliflower creamy. This was our favorite!

Then onto braised pork shoulder with avocado, pickled red onions, coriander, and crispy plantains.    The pork was delicately braised, was tender, and oh so juicy.  On top of the pork was a bright, fresh pickled red onion salad with chunks of avocado.  Steve served all of this on top of flattened plantains, crispy and fried to perfection.  DELISH!

Next was house made ricotta gnocchi with lobster, shallots, a brandy tomato cream sauce, and arugula on top.  The sauce is light and creamy.  The gnocchi is light and pillowy, with a good bite to it.  The lobster was cooked nicely and the tomato added that nice touch of just a little tartness.  Somehow this manages to feel like a light dish.

And lastly we enjoyed the beef short rib with truffle mashed potato, ancho chili, and tomato confit. Mmm, the meat just fell of the bone with a gentle pull and the sauce had this delicious, exotic flavor with a hint of cinnamon that really rounded it out. And the truffle mashed potatoes, oh yeah, just enough truffle flavor, creamy with chunks of potatoes—just how we like it!

Oh, and we washed everything down with a bottle of organic, environmentally friendly Como Sur 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon / Carmenere blend from Chile.

For dessert we had the cinnamon doughnuts with Nutella dipping sauce.  When you bite into these soft and moist bad boys, you can really taste the cinnamon. It tasted like a churro actually. These are seriously the most moist donuts we’ve ever had and found out it was because the chef added just a little ricotta. Good call, chef!  After he talked with us a bit about his donuts, he also made his way around the restaurant, and people were gushing about how awesome their food was.  Yeah, he’s the man.

And the Creme Anglaise bread pudding which had a great vanilla flavor. This was a pretty traditional bread pudding that—although it tasted delish and was moist—was a bit too bread-y for us…we prefer our bread pudding on the creamier side.  We shared both desserts with a nice spot o’ joe from Ward Coffee of Norwalk.

Our Overall Take on Olio

What can we say?  We’re glad that Hope Street and Springdale now have some tasty, super creative food.  Olio is breathing life into the culinary scene and we venture to say this will become a go-to spot for us and many others. Definitely head on down to our neighborhood and check it out!

Noms: 4
Cost: $$$
Address:  934 Hope Street
                  Stamford, CT 06905
Phone:  (203) 817-0303
Fax:  (203) 817-0305

Olio Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Down to Earth Farm to Table at Terrain – Westport, CT

29 May

*Click a pic to check out the drool-worthy gallery*

We just can’t get enough of delicious farm-to-table restaurants, so when we heard about Terrain in Westport we were super excited to try it. But, to be completely honest, we weren’t really sure what to expect. On one hand, the kitchen’s headed up by Joe Wolfson, winner of Food & Wine’s Best New Chefs 2011, so it has to be good.  But on the other hand, it is owned by the same company that owns Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie and Free People. Oh, don’t get me wrong, being a fashionista I LOVE those stores, but can they make good food? Good farm-to-table food at that? We were a little unsure…until we sat down and dug in.

From the minute we arrived we knew this wasn’t your typical farm-to-table experience. Well, first of all, for those of you that don’t know, it’s actually a 2 acre store and the restaurant (cafe to be exact) is only one part of that 2 acre space. If you come in through the outside area, you’ll walk around a large, really nice tree/plant nursery on your way to the outdoor seating. If you walk in through the inside you’ll walk through a jaw-dropping home and garden type store that is impossible to pass up. Either way you go, it’s a gorgeous experience leading up to an equally gorgeous, rustic, charming cafe area complete with butcher block table tops, weathered metal chairs, plants, waterfalls, trees, moss, flowers and more.

We were immediately seated and then greeted by our very charming (and single for all you single ladies) waiter, Jason. It wasn’t too long after chatting with Jason and a few other members of the staff that we realized Terrain was just a nice, laid back, down-to-earth, farm-to-table restaurant. That’s how they should all be, right? We also found out from the staff that most of their food is sourced within a 50 mile radius, including Glenn Mills, Holbrook Farm, Oakview, The Hickories, and Warrup’s Farm. Even much of the wine and beer selection is regional of which Danny had a Magic Hat Circus Boy, and I sampled a Jonathan Edwards Cabernet before settling on a bolder California red. But enough about all that, onto the food.

We started with some of their many appetizing small plates and side dishes, then shared an entree, then onto dessert of course. Here’s the plate by plate:


How cute! Bread baked in a terra cotta pot!

Yeah, we don’t usually write about the free bread, but we just HAD to this time. Why? Well, first of all because it comes in the terra cotta flower pot it was baked in. But second of all, it was HOLY CRAP delicious, soft and ooey gooey served with maple syrup butter that I seriously could’ve eaten with a spoon (and may have when no one was looking, just sayin’).

Roasted Beets: Young lettuce, chevre, pumpkin seeds and an orange vinaigrette

Oh wow, this was better than your average goat cheese salad (and believe me, I’ve tried them all). The dressing was light, flavorful and the perfect amount of acid to balance the red and yellow beets, goat cheese and pumpkin seeds, which seemed to be roasted and coated in some sort of yumminess.

Baby Lettuce: Marcona almonds, fennel, carrot, ricotta and a lemon vinaigrette

This was Danny’s salad. He claims it was a fancy party in his mouth. The fennel brought a nice kick, the Marcona almonds, a nice texture and saltiness, the Ricotta a creaminess and the vinaigrette a bright, light acid that brought the whole thing together.

Hanger Steak: Asparagus, new potato, mushroom, garlic fondue and red wine

Cooked PERFECTLY medium rare, juicy with a nice crusted outside. The mushroom fondue was layered on the plate beneath the steak and was out of this world. We made sure to dip each bite of steak and each perfectly tender potato in for a bite that was FULL of flavor.

Scallops:  Terrain bacon, English peas, horseradish, red bee honey

Scallops:  yeah, you’ve gotta order this

We honestly didn’t think the meal could good better, but it did.  The honey added a unique, sweet flavor to the scallops along with the sweetness of the peas while the horseradish really added a warmth.  And of course the rich, fatty bacon was the perfect balance with the scallops. Yeah, we concluded that honey and scallops are best friends that should never be separated ever again.

Roasted Mushrooms: Various mushrooms, garlic, shallots. 

Mmmm, lots of yummy types of fresh mushrooms cooked to perfection served over some sort of awesome garlic creaminess that added a wonderful punch of flavor to the earthiness of the mushrooms.

Cornbread: Apple, jalapeno, cheddar. Heaven.

Jason warned us of its awesomeness, but nothing could prepare us. OMG, this is seriously the BEST cornbread we’ve ever had. So incredibly moist, so buttery with just the right amount of cheddar and some nice sweet apple to balance out the kick from the jalapeno. We will dream of this cornbread regularly. In fact, I want some now, darnnit.

Chocolate Budino: Chocolate pudding, salted caramel sauce, peanut brittle

We wanted the homemade doughnuts (mmmm doughnuts) but they ran out so Jason suggested this instead. Although not my type of dessert (I’m not a pudding fan), this was quite yummy and Danny really enjoyed it! We both loved the saltiness of the caramel which served as a great balance to the sweetness of the pudding. And the peanut brittle was fantastic – not too hard or overly sugary where it hurts your teeth. JUST right.

We have to say, after just one dining experience we are HUGE fans of Terrain. The atmosphere was stunning, the service was absolutely perfect (ask for Jason, he rocks), the courses came out slowly letting us just relax, the vibe was chill and the food was just plain AMAZING. So now that dinner has been conquered, we must come back for brunch on a Saturday or Sunday and shop around for a while. I can definitely see us going back again and again, and so should you!


Noms: 4.5

Cost: $$$

Address:  561 Post Road East
Westport, CT 06880
Phone:  (203) 226-2732
Lunch Monday-Friday: 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Brunch Saturday & Sunday:  10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Dinner Tuesday -Saturday:  5 p.m. – 10 p.m.
Facebook – 

Twitter –!/ShopTerrain/

Pinterest –


Terrain on Urbanspoon

A weekend of decadence with drinks, food, art & more at the Westchester Magazine’s Wine & Food Weekend

26 Apr

Well, we know if you’re reading our blog you clearly love food, wine and beer, so we KNOW you’ll be all about Westchester Magazine’s 2nd annual Wine & Food Weekend coming up on May 17-20 at The Ritz Carlton Westchester in White Plains. Ritz Carlton, oooo fancy.

But don’t worry, with events like the BBQ, Burgers and Beer Bash on Thursday, this weekend is anything but stiff. Well, except maybe the cocktails. Whether you’re stuffing your face with yummilicious food from over 30 of the best local restaurants and downing glasses of wine from over 200 world-class wineries at the Grand Tasting, or learning to make prohibition cocktails, or checking out local art at the ARTSBash, you’re guaranteed to have a great time!

Check out the full schedule, prices and packages below. For tickets visit the event website here.

Hope to see you there- we’ll be the ones with some sort of food or drink attached to our lips at all times. We’ll wink at your or something – but less creepy.

Thursday, 5/17
7:30PM – 11PM: Burgers, BBQ & Beer Bash – $50.00
Friday, 5/18
6PM – 9PM: ARTSBash – $75.00
Saturday, 5/19
11:30AM – 4PM: Grand Tasting – $85.00
12:00PM: A Tour Through Tuscany Wine Seminar with Kevin Zraly – $25.00 
1:15PM: Crystal Clear, Does the Glass Make A Difference? Wine Seminar – $75.00
2:30PM: Modern Mixology: Bringing Cocktails Home Cocktails Seminar – $25.00
6:30PM – 10:30PM: Winemakers Dinner – $150.00
Sunday, 5/20
11:30AM – 2PM: Sparkling Sunday Brunch – $50.00
12:00PM – 4:30PM: Grand Tasting – $85.00
12:30PM: Wines of Bordeaux Wine Seminar with Kevin Zraly – $25.00
1:45PM: Prohibition Cocktails Clinic Sprits Seminar – $25.00 
3:00PM: Majestic Terroir of Sonoma Wine Seminar – $25.00
Grand Tasting Combo: Grand Tasting Saturday & Sunday – $160.00 
VIP Pass: Package above + 1 Wine Seminar each day, Winemakers Dinner & Sunday Brunch – $400.00 

Chef Sergio Reyes Makes Bar Rosso in Stamford Shine

18 Mar

*Click a picture to enlarge and bring up the gallery*

Way back in May 2011, we told Omnomivores about Bar Rosso and were dying to try what we hoped were great Italian tapas. We thought it would end up being one of our favorites, especially because Mary Schaffer from Napa & co was involved with the initial launch. But, much to our dismay, when we finally tried things out, we were a bit disappointed to find the food didn’t live up to the hype with way too much salt, seasoning and oil.  We left knowing Bar Rosso had potential, if they could just get the food right.

At a press dinner at Cactus Rose Cantina, Linda Kavanagh told us that Bar Rosso had a new chef and new management. So with that in mind, and the fact that we were dying for some great Italian tapas, we decided to give Bar Rosso another try. What went down next definitely changed our minds…

When we arrived we met Stacy, the general manager, and she seated us in a comfy booth by the brick oven and the kitchen door. To our delight, Chef Sergio Reyes came out and told us he wanted to share some dishes with us to show what Bar Rosso is now all about.  If a chef presents you with an offer like this, you take it.  Like if the Godfather comes up to you, telling you to do something, you do it.  Capiche?

So we were dying to find out what he would bring, but in the meantime we enjoyed a nice wine flight of a Primitivo, a Nero d’Avola, and a Sicilian Syrah selected by Eileen, head of the wine program. The picks were perfect and matched our taste so well:  big, bold reds that have body.

Wine Flight and Smoked Mozzarella, Spicy Sausage, and Broccoli Rabe Pizza

Chef Sergio came out with our dream pie: smoked mozzarella, spicy sausage, and broccoli rabe. The crust was beautifully cooked and golden, was crispy, yet still a bit doughy inside. The smoked mozzarella was a wonderful touch and added a great smokiness to the dish. We would order again, and–yes–it did stand up to the next morning reheat test.

Veal Ricotta Meatballs

Find these bad boys on the Bar Snacks section of the menu at 1 for $7 or 3 for $18.  Starting off, the meatballs were served in a cute jar.  They were meatier than we like, but not super meaty to the point that was all you could taste.  The ricotta was great because it added a juiciness to them that kept them moist.  Also, Chef Sergio did a great job of crustifying (is that a word?) the outside.  Any good meatball has been pan fried nicely…just ask any Italian.

Crispy Honey Calamari 

We also really loved the calamari.  There was a nice pile of them, generously drizzled with a jalapeño and honey sauce.  Although there was only a slight kick from the peppers, the flavor was intense, especially with little bits of olives mixed in.  The breading on the calamari was thick, but if it was any thinner it would probably become soggy because of the drizzle.

Short Rib Raviolis

A pretty complex dish.  Delicate and earthy short ribs with burrata, tomato jam, and hazelnuts.  These handmade bad boys had great contrasting flavors with the earthiness of the short rib, the acid of red pepper pesto on top, and the bite of the shredded parmesan.  Delicious and very filling, which leads us to the next course.  Lucky for us these dishes were small plates style, otherwise we never would have made it to dessert.  Yes, we’ll get there.

Lemon Ricotta Gnocchi

The gnocchi was served with capers and golden raisins in a creamy and light lemony sauce.  The capers added a nice saltiness to contrast the bright flavors going on.  The gnocchi itself was more on the heavier side that a typical ricotta gnocchi, rather than being like the light and fluffy pillows you’d expect. Chef Sergio said it was because they were made with a pastry bag which makes them heavier. The gnocchi definitely left us at the brink of exploding, but we couldn’t resist the chance to pick a dish of our choosing from the menu.

Pan Seared Pork Chop

This was the dish we had eyed on the menu and was actually recommended by Chef Reyes as one of his favorites.  The pork chop was paired with beautifully seared and buttery Brussel sprouts.  Oh man, how we love Brussel sprouts! On top of the chop were caramelized apples and under the chop was a bed of lentils.  Although it might seem scary, you should go with a medium on pork chops to get the full flavor and juiciness of this cut of meat.  But, make sure you’re at a good restaurant where the chef can handle this by cooking it to the right temperature.  :)  The chop was a bit over medium, but was still full of flavor and juicy.   The apples were a nice play on the classic pairing of pork chops with apple sauce.  We would order this dish again, no doubt.

Gelato, Sorbet and Pot de Crème

Chef Sergio came out and told us that he was sending out two desserts for us to try.  Again, we were left waiting in anticipation to see what we would receive.  The first dessert was an amazing trio of gelato and sorbet made one door over at Volta Gelateria Creperia.  The blood orange sorbet was bright, tart, citrusy, and refreshing.  Also there was the caramel sea salt gelato.  It was creamy, caramely and had an undertone of saltiness that provided a nice contrast in flavors.   Now, then there’s the chocolate strawberry gelato.  Kristien melted into a puddle and proclaimed that she would eat this by the gallon.  It was everything she loves in a gelato – a super fruity, refreshing gelato with chunks of contrasting chocolate. I think she even liked this better than her favorite ice cream ever – Friendly’s Watermelon Roll. Don’t tell her I told you all that!

We also had the Nutella pot de crème with homemade whipped cream and crushed amaretto cookies on top.  The pot de crème was light and airy and hid light hints of cinnamon.  Seriously delicious.

So…Same, Better, Worse? What’s OmNomCT’s Verdict?

Our major problem with Bar Rosso when we first went was how everything was just a bit off. A bit too much!  But, after this meal, we can say that Bar Rosso is a wonderful place to hit up if you’re looking for some awesome Italian tapas.  You’ll get to try lots of small plates that pack in a lot of flavor.  The service is excellent and the wine selection is a blend of phenomenal wines from all over Italy.  Chef Sergio will also be changing the menu up, depending on the season, and filling it up with food from local farms.  We’d definitely recommend checking out Bar Rosso for some bar snacks, small plates, sharing a bottle of wine, or even just an all out dining experience.  So, let it be known that Bar Rosso has jumped from 3.25 Noms to 4 Noms.

Bar Rosso
Noms: 4
Cost:  $$$
Address: 24 Spring Street
Stamford, CT 06901
Phone: (203) 388-9640
Reservations recommended (also on

Bar Rosso on Urbanspoon

Celebrate Via Sforza’s 20th in Style! Westport, CT

18 Jan

From Via Sforza

Who doesn’t love some Italian food?  God knows we have plenty of choices here in CT, but if we’re looking for really good food that warms the heart, there aren’t as many.  Usually, you find a restaurant that is good at one particular thing such as their pastas, their meats, or their antipasti.  But, there are some rare breeds such as Madonia, Columbus Park Trattoria, and Via Sforza Trattoria that excel no matter the menu item. 

From Via Sforza

If you’ve never had the pleasure of trying out Via Sforza, now’s a great time.  They are celebrating their 20th year in business this year.  Well, where’s the party?  Come on, ya know Italians do it right!   First off, listen to an Italian guitarist, plucking at your heart strings, while you wine and dine on February 2 + 23.  Also, there will be a special Valentine’s Day menu and they are even taking reservations for Opera Night on February 6.  Don’t forget they have Sunday brunch too, paesan.  Just $19.95 for adults, $9.95 for kids.

From Via Sforza

So, why Via Sforza?  We’ve eaten there twice and both times were amazing.  The main reason we came back was due to Kristien’s addiction to Bucatini alla Amatricciana.  See, this is where Kristien discovered her second great love–I’m the first, btw.  Thick round ropes of pasta smothered in a tomato sauce with bits of pancetta all over.  Yeah.  Damn good.  Although this is off the menu now, there are plenty of great pasta dishes, salads, pizzas, and more to choose from.  Some of the recipes come from Sforza family recipes or have evolved from Dino Sforza (co-owner) and Executive Chef Chris Malagise working together over the years.  You can taste the love.  So,when we head back, this will force us to branch out and try new dishes. ;)

Just note that Via Sforza gets pretty packed because it’s no secret how good the food is.  The Valentine’s Day dinner and the music nights are first come, first serve.  You can make reservations for Opera Night and their brunches, though.

Ciao, Omnomivori!

Via Sforza
Noms:  TBD
Cost:  $$$
Address: 243 Post Road West
                 Westport, CT 06880
Phone: (203) 454-4444

Via Sforza Trattoria on Urbanspoon

Attain taco nirvana with the help of a culinary god. Bodega Taco Bar -Fairfield, CT.

19 Jun

It’s official, Chef Michael Young is seriously a culinary god. Yep, I said it. It’s impossible for anyone to deny it when he owns a restaurant as awesome as Valencia Luncheria, was Executive Chef at Habana when it was awesome back in the SoNo days, and Ocean Drive, when it, too, was awesome. And now (of course) the recently opened Bodega Taco Bar in Fairfield.  Oh yes, Bodega Taco Bar was every bit as amazing as one would think if they’ve ever experienced Chef Michael Young’s food.

In true Chef Michael fashion, Bodega Taco Bar is no ordinary taco bar. Sure there are tacos… and they’re amazing. Sure there’s tequila… over 30 of them in fact. But there’s also a plethora of creative and unique platos (principal plates), tortas (sandwiches), antojitos (little cravings), and sides with a sexy Latin twist to keep you from getting bored with the same old Mexican standbys (not that we don’t love ’em).  In fact, the selections were so amazing we (as usual) labored over what to get for way too long. But then again, so did our dinner mates, long time Valencia fans, Dave and Jo Plain.

Well, let’s start with the ambiance. If you’ve ever been to Valencia Luncheria, you’re probably expecting that “hole in the wall” vibe at Bodega Taco Bar, but you couldn’t be more wrong. The spot is fairly small with about 4 or so 4-person tables, a handful of tallboys, and a nice sized dine-at bar. But they sure did pack a lot of coolness into that small space. Wow, I haven’t said coolness since the early 90s. Anyway, it had a very sleek and clean design with a beautiful repurposed wood bar, tables and walls, to a brushed steel bar base, to a dark metal rafter ceiling with amber-ish glass light fixtures hanging down. Really, just the perfect combination of materials to give it that sleek-finished feeling, but still feel relaxed and down-to-earth.

After a bit of a wait, which is probably going to be the norm for quite some time, we dove into the menu. No questions asked, we all agreed on some guacamole to start. The guacamole was freshly made to order with chunks of tomato, cilantro, a hint of lime and jalapeno for a nice kick. Danny and I both swore we tasted some sort of hot sauce, but our waitress didn’t think it had any. Whatever, we’re sticking to it. Either way, this guac was a great start to our meal. We also accompanied this, and the rest of our meal, with some margaritas which were tasty too!

Next up we all shared the Bodega Grilled Corn, the Blistered Brussel Sprouts, and the Yucca Fritas. S0, OMG we are going to have dreams about the Bodega Grilled Corn for months, years even. What could be so awesome about corn you ask? Oh, my friend, one bite and you’ll be in corny heaven. Err, yeah. Just picture perfectly grilled sweet corn loaded with butter, lime juice, cotija cheese and ancho chili dust for a little kick. RE-DONK-U-LOUS. Words can’t even describe. Then, next best by a very close second was the Blistered Brussel Sprouts. Cooked perfectly to give them that nice crispiness, almost caramelized with what we believe was agave syrup for just the right amount of sweetness to balance the bitterness inherent to the those yummy little sprouts! And last, but still pretty tasty were the Yucca Fritas, cut thin like potato sticks with just the right amount of oil and salt to flavor them up.

And just when you thought we were done with the appetizers (do you even know us at all?), Danny and I also shared our must-have appetizer, the Ceviche de Mariscos. We are pretty picky about our ceviche and this bad-boy did not disappoint. Not only were the shrimp and scallops incredibly fresh tasting, but they were also bathed, along with avocado, in just the perfect amount of citrus and tomato juices. And for the perfect final touch, it was served with a delicious tostone, or a twice-fried plantain that looks like a potato cake.

Onto the main course. Danny and Dave ordered the same thing, three tacos: an Americano, Argentino and Cochinita Pibil, a tender pulled pork taco with refried beans, cilantro and pickled red onion. They unanimously loved all three tacos, but the Americano was a stand out in their minds. The only crispy taco on the menu, the Americano was full of flavor with perfectly seasoned ground beef, manchego cheese and salsa rusa. The Argentino was also a terrific, juicy, flavorful combination of perfectly cooked hangar steak asada, charred onion, cilantro and salsa de chili de arbol. Then, because three tacos are never enough, Dave ordered another Americano and Danny got the Baja based on the waitresses recommendation. Danny was blown away by the Baja which was packed with panko crusted mahi mahi, fresh pico de gallo and just a nice touch of lemon aioli.

Jo ordered the Seared Scallops platos with roasted corn and fresh tomatoes, which while pretty small, she said was delicious. And I ordered the Pollo Rico tortas because it had goat cheese, and you know I have never been one to pass up anything with goat cheese. Ever. Goat cheese wasn’t the only thing awesome about this sandwich. Add a juicy chicken breast, slap on some refried beans, some deliciously caramelized fried plantains and tangy pickled red onions in between what seemed to be freshly baked, thick and hearty bread. It was an absolutely fantastic flavor combination that I will have a hard time forgetting.

So if after reading this post you’re not already en route to Bodega Taco Bar, get there pronto, and go back mucho times because there are so many amazingly creative dishes to try there from their tacos and beyond. This spot is sure to become not only a Fairfield fave, but likely a destination people travel for much like Valencia Luncheria, because that’s just how Chef Michael Young rolls.

Noms:  4.25

Cost:  $$$

Bodega Taco Bar
Address: 1700 Post Road
Fairfield, CT
Phone:  (203) 292-9590

Bodega Taco Bar on Urbanspoon

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