Tag Archives: Stamford, CT

Tavern 489: Warm + Cozy Mountain Lodge Dining Coming to Stamford

24 Feb

Having just come back from winter vacation in Lake Placid where the temperature dropped to -30 (it was so cold our dog couldn’t and wouldn’t poop), then to Vermont to get a ski run in, we can appreciate warm and cozy. Really, there’s nothing like that coming in from the cold kinda feeling. And, while Stamford doesn’t have the rolling Green Mountains or the cascading Adirondacks, it will soon have a new restaurant that picks up that mountain lodge kinda vibe. Continue reading

The Resurgence of Food Trucks in Fairfield County, CT: A Culinary Tour!

1 Apr

UPDATE: We feel bad about all you folks searching for food trucks in our area, then get to this blog post, read the whole thing, only to  find out it’s an April Fool’s joke! So, if you want a good laugh, read on, but these trucks (thankfully), are not real. ; )

Food trucks are hot stuff today, HOT!  You can get authentic ethnic food or even gourmet grub at cheap, cheap prices.  The country sat captivated as they watched The Great Food Truck Race on Food Network and cheered on their favorite chefs and cuisines.  People are following their beloved trucks on Twitter, tracking them down for a quick lunch.  For some it’s almost like a game:  where will my truck be next?  We guess it just goes to show how devoted people can be to a chef and his/her brilliant menus.  Here are some food trucks we’ve spotted and have heard real buzz over.  Begin feasting with your eyes:

Offal Food Trux, Norwalk

Brain, kidney, and tongue are just a few items on the menu here!

The entire stick to your roots, natural foods movement has really taken over Fairfield County.  Nowhere can this be seen better than here with Offal Food Trux.  They like to scamper around SoNo, but have been seen a few other places nearby.  Their signature menu item that must be tried is the Bovine Einstein Taco:  freshly sautéed cow brain in a tangy and chocolatey mole sauce.  Throw in some bone marrow on top and it almost looks like cheese.  There are other items to try like The French Kiss:  buttered goat tongue, served with some pomme frites on the side.

Po’ Po’ Porridge, Danbury


How can you have any pudding if you don't eat yer meat?

Po’ Po’ Porridge in Danbury hits all the right spots–literally and metaphorically–in the downtown area.  This is the truck in an oatshell:  oatmeal, your way, with the best possible ingredients.  You might think it’s strange to limit yourself to just oatmeal, but think about how many taco trucks you see.  They just serve tacos, but they do a superb job at it.  Like your oatmeal watery?  They can do that.  Like your oatmeal lumpy?  You know they can handle that.  Want some blueberries in there?  Sure, they’ve got that.  Darryl Ohrt from Humongo told us about his favorite:  “I know it might sound kinda freaky, but I love the oatmeal here in a cup a bit runny.  I take it with me while I’m on a run and just take a few swigs here and there.  It’s really revolutionized my breakfast routine and my running regimen.  The next time I do the NYC Marathon, you best believe I’m stopping off for some oatmeal before my jaunt.”

Be-rate Burgers, Stamford


A be-rating burger experience that you'll never forget!

Last on our list of faves is this slick and punishingly good burger truck that can be seen on Washington, 1, and the Cove area in Stamford.  Be-rate Burgers have the Subway mentality, where you can get to pick all your favorite toppings.  Bacon, pancetta, mayo, mustard, ketchup, relish, onions, tomato, and mushrooms are just a few of the trimmins’ to put on your “Bad Bad Boy” as they call ‘um.  This is where things can get a bit hairy, though.  If they don’t like your order or your flavor combos, they will take out a bullhorn and begin to berate and insult you.  We ordered a medium-rare burger with guacamole, pancetta, and mustard, but Chef Williams didn’t agree.  He stormed out of the kitchen inside the tiny truck, threw open the door, and threw the ingredients at us.  “This, this.  You call this a burger?  What’s wrong with you?  I won’t serve that kind of crap at my truck.  Get out, get out.  Just go.  Let this serve as a lesson to the rest of you on line.  Don’t order crap.  Think.  No one likes a horrible hipster-foodie-wannabe!”

Here is a short list of some of the other trucks we’ll review shortly:

Kinda Round, Westport

Fat and Greasy, Darien

All Artificial Flavors and Ingredients, Black Rock

April Fool’s Day, I hope you didn’t really

think these were real.  If you actually did,

you’re sick.  Actually, I kind of would go

to these trucks. ;)

An Italian Gastronomic and Wine Lovers Wonderland. ZAZA, Stamford

27 Dec

Photo by Alex Racanelli

Update, 6/2/11:  ZAZA is now open and here’s our review.  Also, Nick Jr. took us for a private tour and here’s the goods.

We all know that Stamford has a ton of Italian restaurants, so the choices can be quite overwhelming. As you listen to people’s recommendations and try each of them out, you notice that many of them are just the same old boring formula:  drab pizza, expected salads, bland pasta, and some rubbery chicken parm.  Who is brave enough to break this boring monotony in Stamford?  Well, there are two newcomers to the scene that will prove to add some gusto to Downtown Stamford.  First, we’ve got Bar Rosso that’s opening up in 2 weeks and we’ve got ZAZA, who we’re also so damn excited about!

What’s the big deal?  Let me break it down for ya, paesan.  The owners (Nick  Racanelli Jr. and Sr.) are the creators and operators of MOLTO in Fairfield, CT.  Nick Sr. is the same person who created and built Remo’s Brick Oven Pizza and Lucky’s on the restaurantly-rich Bedford Street.  So, there is clearly amazing culinary experience  and passion going into ZAZA.

Photo by Alex Racanelli

Let’s get onto the kind of food that ZAZA will have to offer.  To begin, ZAZA is going to be an Italian gastrobar.  You can think of a gastrobar as a restaurant that serves gourmet bar food, unlike most bar food that goes for hot oil baths and takes you down for the count.  The menu will be quite similar to the one at MOLTO, with a focus on small plates, table sharing, and their famous thin-crust, brick-oven pizza.  I’m excited about the white clam pie and also the hot oil pizza, which is always killer.  Something else that I’m hoping for is that they’ll carry over their plates of mozzarella (5 different kinds) that come with olives, roasted peppers, and eggplant.

Now, you also need something to wash all that Italian yumminess down with, right?  Why not try one of their over 100 different bottles of wine?  As of right now, Nick Jr. is telling us that there will most likely be over 40 of those bottles available to buy by the glass.  That’s a really great variety, and with the glasses going from $5-$15, you can get your drink on without going broke.  The bottles will also prove to be quite affordable, starting at $20.

The meals will also  be quite inexpensive with $10 pizzas and a ton of entrees under $20.  I have a feeling that this will quickly become a Stamford favorite, especially for the 30+ crowd.  You’ll have great quality food, an excellent dining experience, a plethora of wine choices, and all for not too much money.  This is the perfect formula for a restaurant to thrive upon so I definitely think that Nick Jr. and Sr. know what they’re doing!

Expect to indulge in rich mahogany, a stunning white carrera marble bar, and plush red leather booths.  So, let’s all welcome ZAZA to Stamford.  I’m starting to have dreams about this place already…opening Spring, 2011.

Address:  122 Broad Street
Stamford, CT
Phone:  203-348-2300
Site: http://zazagastrobar.com/
Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/zazagastrobar
Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001854911680&ref=ts

ZAZA Italian Gastrobar on Urbanspoon

Shalom in your belly – Tabouli Grill, Stamford

14 Nov

New location in Southport is now open!

Kristien and I were fans of Margot Cafe in the Bull’s Head shopping center on High Ridge for quite a while.  We hoped something good would come up in its place last year…and it did.  It’s better than good, though.  Tabouli Grill proves to keep the same kind of quaint and charming atmosphere, but offers new fare.  Although I’ve had hummus and falafel, I can’t say that I’ve eaten at an Israeli restaurant.  Well, after going for a run this past Friday, we didn’t feel like going anywhere, so we let Tabouli Grill come to us.

When you go to Tabouli Grill, there are some key dishes that are made very well:  the falafel, the hummus, the megadarra, and the israeli salad.  This, no matter what, should be included in your meal, even if you have to eat for 10 hours to finish everything.  The falafel comes to you nice and warm, crispy on the outside, but oh so good and moist on the inside.  The megadarra is a combo of spiced rice, lentils, and the most delicate caramelized onions that taste like candy.  Finishing off, the Israeli salad has tomato, red cabbage, cucumbers, parsley, olive oil, and lemon in it, coming together to make you cry out oy vey.

I usually stick with the chicken schntizel platter (juicy breaded chicken cutlet with lemon) but I wanted to branch out and try new things.  I got the beef kabob platter with sides of megadarra and Israeli salad.  Unless you feel brave, I’d save their french fries for eating at the restaurant–they get soggy by the time you get the food delivered.  To start, the beef kabobs had nice chunks of meat that were nicely seasoned, finished off with a strong dose of clove at the end.  That touch at the end might have been a bit too strong for some, but it didn’t ruin the dish.  The peppers and onions were grilled to perfection and added great flavor to the entire dish.  The beef was a bit well for my taste, but was still tasty nonetheless.  Kristien had the chicken shawarma, which isn’t even on the menu (they always have either lamb or chicken shawarma so just ask for it).  Being a big fan of the delicious combination of tahini, hummus, lemon, garlic and a plethora of spices, Kristien thoroughly enjoyed her dish with no complaints.

We finished off our meal two hours later with the baklava.  You know that you’ve had some bad baklava when the phyllo dough crushes into your teeth and stays there for the next month, tormenting you.  But not this sweet, delicately layered dessert with a beautiful honey-sweet sauce dripping through, and had just the right amount of filling and walnuts.  This has to be added to the list of must haves because we proclaim this the best baklava that we’ve ever had.  Oh, it’s been certified by a Rabbi near where I teach.  It’s legit.

We’ll end this review with a statement that is likely to get us some hate comments: Based on the moist, delicious falafel, nicely cooked and spiced meats, amazing megadarra and the best baklava ever, Tabouli Grill, at a total of 3.5 noms, is hands-down better than Laylas Falafel.

B’taya Von!

Note:  delivery fee of $2 with a minimum order of $15.

Wine suggestions: To round out the spices, try a dry rosé, soft red like a grenache, or medium bodied white like an avellino.  We mistakenly had a slightly sweet, but spicy rosé and the sweetness didn’t work well with the lemon and caramelized onions.

Noms:  3.5

Cost:  $$

Tabouli Grill
Address:  59 High Ridge Road (Bull’s Head)
Stamford, CT 06905
Phone:  (203) 504-8888
Site:  http://tabouligrill.com
Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/pages/Tabouli-Grill/182978816688#%21/pages/Tabouli-Grill/182978816688

Tabouli Grill on Urbanspoon

New Italian spot offers inventive menu – Tappo, Stamford

7 Nov

Ah, to try new restaurants, in hopes that you might find the one that becomes your favorite, that jewel to place in your proverbial crown (or something like that).  Tappo, only opened a few weeks ago, and based on our friend Dave’s recommendation, we were really wishing this would be true.  When we arrived, we were struck by how nicely the dining room was decorated.  The space is small, with a limited amount of tables.  We checked in with reservations, but still had to wait, though the hostess was very friendly about it.

To start, we ordered the Insalata di Rucola con Pomodorini e Scaglie:  arugula, cherry tomatoes, and shaved grana.  The lemony/acidic hints of the dressing were cut nicely by the earthy and sharp taste of the grana cheese.  By itself this was a very good salad, but we added the softest, most delicate Prosciutto di San Daniele from their nice menu of Italian meats.  Making this combination ourselves was good and made up for a limited amount of salads to choose from.

For my main dish, I didn’t have much trouble deciding on the Guanciale pizza.  This dish really had everything that I love in the world on it:  browned fingerling potatoes, cured Italian bacon, white cheese sauce, and a sprinkle of truffle oil.  Start with a light, fluffy crust that isn’t too thick or too thin.  It reminded me of the consistency and taste of a zeppole.  All the tastes together synced so well and were amazing.  The only thing that I wished was different was varying textures because everything was soft/chewy.  The Italian bacon was in strips and few parts were crunchy.  If the chunks were smaller and crisped up a little before putting on the pizza, I think this would be a killer dish.  It was a bit hard to swallow when you were down to the last slice, so this is a dish that would be better to be shared.

Ending off the meal, I had a nice thick and strong duo shot of espresso and had two scoops of gelato:  chocolate/hazelnut and olive oil.  The scoop of chocolate/hazelnut was definitely strong and had a nice light hazelnut taste, though there was quite a strong after taste of cinnamon that I didn’t particularly enjoy.  I was left with that “gritty,” “drying” taste that cinnamon can often have.  On the other hand, the olive oil gelato was creamy, fresh, and had that nutty, fruity taste of olive oil.  It was surprisingly good and left me wanting more.

In all, this restaurant has a unique and creative view on Italian food.  The food was great, but the wine was overpriced as compared to the price of the average dish.  We ended up paying $45 for a bottle that would probably cost $15 at a wine shop, and should cost $30 for a restaurant like this.  There was only a handful of wines under $50, the lowest being $35.  The dishes were reasonably priced, though, which brings us to a rating of $$$ out of 5.  Nomability?  We’ve got to give this new Italian a very respectable 3.5 Noms out of 5.  Ciao!

 Also, check out our review on their San Danielle pizza, featured on CBS Connecticut.
Noms:  3.5
Cost:  $$$
Address:  51 Bank Street
Stamford, CT 06901
Phone:  (203) 588-9870
Site:  http://www.tapporestaurant.com
Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001655225989

Tappo on Urbanspoon

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