Brick + Wood: Love Life (And Pizza) = Wine and Food You’ll Love

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With 30 wines on tap – that’s right wine lovers, the wine is on tap - a fresh mozzarella and burrata bar, and wood fired, certified Neapolitan pizza, the newly opened Brick + Wood: Love Life (And Pizza) is certainly gaining some much deserved attention and praise.

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Can we talk about how much I love Brick + Wood?

Everything we tried during our visit – EVERYTHING – was freshly prepared with a great amount of attention to small details and, quite frankly, it was delicious.

This beautiful balance of an intense attention to detail in even the most seemingly simple dishes with a comfortable atmosphere perfect for not only happy hour with friends or date night, but also a place for the whole family is what makes Brick + Wood just different enough from other pizzerias in the area.

The other thing that makes Brick + Wood different is not only the philosophy behind the food which is right in the restuarant’s name – Love Life (And Pizza)! – but also the unique distinction of being certified by the Associazone Pizzaiuoli Napoletani (APN) that their pizza is officially Neapolitan pizza. The APN, an association formed in Naples by pizza makers to preserve the authentic Neapolitan pizza values, requires a rigorous certification process for any restaurant wishing to serve authentic Neapolitan pizza and very few pizzaiolos in the United States are certified.

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Before we tried the pizza we started off in the bar area so we could experience a little of happy hour. The bar side of Brick + Wood offers a few high top tables if you don’t prefer to sit at the bar to enjoy a cocktail ($8-12) or glass of wine-on-tap and some starters or “Neapolitan street food”.

Our first cocktail was the Cider Shooter, a seasonal special. Some other cocktails I tried (you know, for the sake of testing them out to share with you, dear reader) included the Wood Martini, Sangria, a Wine Flight, and finally a dessert cocktail, the Piccola Toffee, but that was with dessert so you’ll have to read on!

The Cider Shooter

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Yes, that is a sugar and cinnamon rimmed glass!

Wood Martini
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If tart and citrusy cocktails are your preference then the Wood Martini is a perfect choice made with orange vodka, orange juice, lemonchello, and dried cranberries.

Sangria
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The Sangria at Brick + Wood is a game changer for me, meaning that I now have a new favorite! Sangria is predictable at most restaurants, but I was pleasantly surprised by the well-blended flavors in Brick + Wood’s sangria. You can expect to taste the sweetness of the fruit and added simple syrup along with the wine. I should add that the sangria is on tap here too.

The first in the area to offer wine on tap, Brick + Wood has 30 wines to choose from spanning from California to Italy to Spain and beyond. Why wine on tap? As owner Paolo Cavalli explained to us, wine on tap guarantees each glass is fresh and tastes like the first pour. Also, it allows for control over the temperature and oxygenation of the wine. As the menu explains, “These wines are stored in stainless steel kegs and maintained at optimal temperature – reds at 55–60 degrees and whites at 42–46 degrees. In a properly sealed keg where the wine is not exposed to oxygen, even when tapped repeatedly, the last ounce of wine tastes as fresh as the first.”

Wine can be ordered in several different sizes: a 2 oz taste glass ($2.50-5.75), 6 oz glass ($7-12.75), 1/2 carafe (3 glasses) ($15.50-36), or a carafe (6 classes) ($27-62).
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With so many wine options it can become a little overwhelming unless you are quite the wine connoisseur and so I’d suggest trying a wine flight so you can sample a few. The wine flight is fun by itself or with some food. We had ours with some starters or Neapolitan “Street Food”!

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Neapolitan Street Food

Neapolitan street food is finger foods you might see people eating wrapped in paper or parchment while walking in the streets or piazzas in Naples and the menu includes some favorites: Arancini, Potato Crocchette, Fried Calamari, Panzerroti filled with salamino, and fresh mozzarella, and basil ($4.50-13).

Housemade Crostino

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Made with ricotta and caramelized onions on top of little toasted crostinis, the freshness of the creamy ricotta compliments the sweetness of the caramalized onions and the crunch of the crostinis in the House Made Crostinos. What is unique to Brick + Wood is their cheese bar where all the cheese they use in all their dishes is made fresh to order. Freshly made ricotta, or any other cheese we tried while dining at Brick + Wood, takes on a slightly different flavor when it is that fresh and it’s something worth trying. In fact, I would go to Brick + Wood just to try all the different options with the cheese bar (read more below).

Montanara “Pizze Fritte”

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Think fried dough meets your favorite pizza sauce and you have the Montanara “Pizze Fritte”. Using homemade dough that has risen for 24 hours and homemade marinara sauce, the “Pizze Fritte” exemplifies the Paolo’s and Clara’s goal to bring Neapolitan street food to Fairfield. I can imagine buying this and strolling through the streets of Naples. You can expect a slightly chewy consistency, however the “Pizze Fritte” is not greasy, and the delicious maranara make this starter a hit.

Loaded Baked Potato Crochette

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I didn’t want to stop eating the Loaded Baked Potato Crochette! Bacon, sourcream, chives, mashed potatoes, served with a white bechamel sauce make up this amazing appetizer – what’s not to like? The Crochette is a little on the heavy side as you would expect to feel when eating mashed potatoes, yet it is very delicious.

Arancini (Bacon Jalapeno and Pear Gorgonzola)
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Arancini balls are another must-try at Brick + Wood! We sampled two kinds: Bacon Jalapeño made with fontina cheese and served with a jalapeño dipping sauce, and Pear Gorgonzola which is served with a brown sage sauce (butter, brown sugar, and sage).

Pear Gorgonzola
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Bacon Jalapeño
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Mozzarella and Burrata Bar

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Mozzarella, burrata, and more is made throughout the day at Brick + Wood. Hand-pulled right in front of your eyes you can enjoy the freshest cheese in a variety of creative combinations from Caprese to Truffle Burrata ($10-15) and include imported dried and cured meats such as capocollo, mortadella, prosciutto and salami which are thinly sliced to order.

Truffle Burrata

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When I dream of cheese (I know I’m not the only one who does!) this Truffle Burrata is now something that pops into my brain. Fresh mozzarella with a cream and truffle filled center comprises the burrata which is further complimented by the slight saltiness of the prosciutto and the texture and flavor of the arugula. Add the crunchy crostini as a base to build upon and this appetizer is rather perfect.

Arugula Salad
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The Arugula Salad at Brick + Wood pairs argulua with shaved pears, candied walnuts, maple vingaigrette, and a fried bocconcini (or fried mozzarella ball). The maple vinaigrette adds a slight sweetness that the candied walnuts build upon making this a very interesting and tasty salad.

PIZZA!

To owners Paolo and Clara Cavalli their pizza is a “labor of love” and they take the process very seriously. The dough is handmade on the premises and leavened for 24-28 hours before it is hand tossed and cooked in the 900 degree wood-fired oven for about 90 seconds. Aside from the dough, housemade sauce is made with San Marzano tomatoes imported from Italy, fresh basil, and of course, the fresh hand pulled mozzarella all are used when making a pizza at Brick + Wood. An array of toppings can be added from the classic to the more creative.

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Margherita
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Margherita pizza is a classic and  I like to use classic dishes and flavors to help me consider how I feel about a pizza establishment (or any restuarant for that matter). The Margherita pizza at Brick + Wood is made with San Marzano tomato sauce, basil, fresh mozzarella, and some evoo and it is quite good. If you’re looking for a classic, or for something simple for the kids, I’d suggest you try this pizza.

Arugula e Proscuitto

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For something more creative I’d suggest you try the Arugula e Prosciutto, a white pizza made with fresh mozzarella, prosciutto, shaved parmigiano, and a touch of balsamic glaze. The flavors are on the light side with this pizza and you can even taste the flavor of the dough and the brick oven.

“The Spicy Pizza” Special

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For those who like a little spice on their pizza, try the special “The Spicy Pizza” made with bacon, ham, fresh jalapenos, and spicy honey (or if that isn’t available the next closest pizza is the Diavola or Texas Heat with spicy soppressata, garlic, jalapenos, and oregano). The flavors of this pizza outweight the spiciness, so if you’re looking for spicy and flavorful I’d suggest this one, and I’m going to guess the Diavola has a little more spicy heat to it.

Dessert

Piccola Toffee

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The Piccola Toffee cocktail has made my favorites list! Baileys, tito’s vodka, buttershots, and kahlua are combined to creak a cocktail that tastes like you’re drinking toffee! It’s a perfect cocktail to go with some dessert or just on its own if you feel like something sweet to drink.

Bread Pudding
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Can we talk about the bread pudding? First, I should say that I am not a fan of bread pudding. It’s usually soggy and too eggy for me, but every once in a while someone makes a bread pudding that makes me like, no love, bread pudding. Clara has succeeded in making me love not just pizza but bread pudding at Brick + Wood. White chocolate and cranberry bread pudding with vanilla sauce and salted pistacios are combined to make this bread pudding which is slightly on the heavy side enabling it to avoid becoming soggy despite the vanilla sauce on top.

S’mores Pizza

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Take all the ingredients of a s’more but substitute the graham crackers with dough and bake it in a 900 degree oven and you have the S’mores Pizza at Brick + Wood. This seems like the perfect dessert for the family to share or anyone who feels like a s’more!

 

Brick + Wood: Love Life (And Pizza)

1275 Post Road, No. 7

Fairfield, CT 06824

203-939-1400

Hours: Closed Monday; Lunch: Tues – Sat, 11:30 a.m. – 3 p.m.; Dinner: Tues – Sat, 5 p.m. – Closing; Sunday Dinner: 5 p.m. – Closing

Public parking lot, FREE

Disclaimer: I was invited to this media dinner, however all views and opinions expressed herein are my own.

Brick + Wood on Urbanspoon

Heaven is a Perfect Piece of Pie

A holiday or a special occasion or simply just a Tuesday, any day is perfect for a piece of pie.

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If you love pie as much as I do then you know that something as simple as a pie can actually be quite complicated because not everyone gets it right. Yet an excellent piece of pie is heavenly.

We had our family Thanksgiving dinner a little belated this year (when family members work in emergency services sometimes holidays come a little earlier or later than usual because they have to work on holidays) and I was waiting very patiently for a piece of pie.

Turkey and pie equally important to everyone on Thanksgiving, right?

Well, my auntie went to my favorite place in Connecticut to get pie, Oronoque Farms (formerly located in Stratford and now in Shelton). As we put out the pies – Apple crumb, pumpkin, pecan, sugar free apple, coconut custard, and chocolate banana creme pie, quite the show stealer – the family hovered and then dove in. It was really quiet for a few minutes as we all enjoyed some little slices of heaven.

Go get your own slice of heavenly pie:

Oronoque Farms Bakery
188 Leavenworth Road Route 110
Shelton, CT 06484
203-925-4237
203-925-4238

Sunday Prime Brunch: A Brand NEW Brunch At Washington Prime, SoNo

A small crowd had formed outside the main entrance of Washington Prime in South Norwalk last Sunday ready to try the new brunch menu. Some people lingered near the glass doors and large windows sneaking a peek inside to catch a glimpse of the staff putting finishing touches on the food, while others chatted with one another and lingered on the patio.
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The attitude of the crowd perfectly embodies how I feel about brunch – excitement and anticipation paired with a slower pace for a slow and social Sunday spent with a group of friends (maybe even a recuperation from Saturday night).
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Brunch is one of my absolute favorite meals – who doesn’t like breakfast foods combined with good company and cocktails? – and I’m always on the lookout for a place to brunch.

Well, dear reader, I’ve found another place for you to enjoy brunch – Washington Prime!

At the request of their patrons, Washington Prime has introduced their brand new brunch menu: Sunday Prime Brunch.
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For $29.95 per person the Sunday Prime Buffet includes a complimentary Bloody Mary, Mimosa, or Moscow Mule along with a large selection of food. You can expect to see a salad bar, raw bar, prime rib station, pastry station, yogurt bar, and so much more!

Upon entering the restaurant I immediately noticed how well the brunch itself was setup. The large U-shaped bar allowed for an easy access to the salad, fruit, and yogurt bars, cheese board, and desserts.

Fruit Bar
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Salad Bar
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Cheese Board
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Bagel Bar
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Yogurt and Granola
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Also, two long tables were set up alongside the bar and offered the more traditional brunch buffet spread: eggs benedict, bacon, sausage, french toast, and the bagel bar.
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On the other side of the bar the raw bar, omlette and prime rib stations, and pastry tower were placed, also for easy access.

Raw Bar
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Prime Rib Station
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Omelette Station
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Ready to dig in!
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A close up of the Eggs Benedict with a unique twist – it’s over pork belly!
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Coffee and…
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Pastry Tower and More!
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Forget “Pastry Station,” Washington Prime has a Pastry TOWER filled with cookies, croissants, and various danish.

Also, throughout our time at brunch we noticed a selection of desserts which made their way out one by one: pumpkin cheesecake, lemon merengue pie, and individual apple and blueberry cobblers. I wish I had room to try them all!

Pumpkin Cheesecake
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Lemon Merengue
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Apple and Blueberry Cobblers
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Overall the Sunday Prime Brunch at Washington Prime offers a selection of classic brunch food along with some of their own unique items which make this different from others in the area and worth checking out!

Disclaimer: we were invited to this media tasting, however all views and opinions expressed herein are my own.

Washington Prime on Urbanspoon

Hana Tokyo Brings Hibachi And Sushi To The Brick Walk In Fairfield

Utensils and eggs fly through the air juggled with swift hands. Shrimp is flipped into shirt pockets and a fire shooting volcano made of onion rings rounds out the performance before the meal is cooked.

Have you guessed it yet?

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Taking dinner and a show to a whole new level, hibachi chefs perform and amaze diners at communal tables with different tricks as they dice, slice, flip, and toss food into the air and even into diners’ mouths!

Hibachi, or Japanese Steakhouse or Teppanyaki, has become increasingly popular in the U.S. ever since Benihana began it’s restaurant chain in New York City in the 1960s.

The menu is often simple – beef, chicken, shrimp, noodles, rice, and vegetables – but it is the ability to have your food prepared as you wish before your very eyes and the synchronized delivery to each diner’s plate never ceases to amaze.

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There is a new hibachi restaurant in Fairfield County that sets itself apart from the others notably for its friendly staff, entertaining hibachi experience, and its food - Hana Tokyo, Hibachi & Sushi Lounge.

Located in The Brick Walk in Fairfield, Hana Tokyo offers a traditional hibachi and sushi menu along with lunch specials and local delivery.

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Hana Tokyo offers several dining options to fit your needs, so if you aren’t in the mood for a communal hibachi experience, the bar and lounge area might be just what you’re looking for to enjoy drinks and appetizers. Also, the bar area is slightly elevated from the rest of the restaurant so you can watch the hibachi even if you don’t choose to partake in a hibachi dinner.

Before we sat down together for hibachi we did just that and enjoyed cocktails, chef’s specialty rolls, and sashimi in the bar and lounge area.

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With a full bar, Hana Tokyo has many cocktail My favorite is the Scorpion Bowl, a cocktail meant to share with several people because the glass is the size of a bowl!

We tried three Chef’s Specialty Rolls: Rainbow Roll, Magical Roll, and Dynamite Roll.

Rainbow Roll
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Inside the Rainbow Roll is crabmeat, avocado and cucumber, and outside is tuna, salmon, and avocado.

Magical Roll
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The Magical Roll is made of spicy crunchy tuna, cucumber topped with smoked eel, shrimp, avocado, tobiko, and scallions.

Dynamite Roll
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Our final roll of the evening, the Dynamite Roll includes spicy yellowtail and tuna topped with spicy crunchy crabmeat.

Sashimi
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The sashimi we tried included tuna, salmon, flounder, yellowtail, and crab.

Tempura
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The Shrimp and Vegetable Tempura is lightly battered and fried, and is served with a homemade tempura sauce. Despite being fried, the tempura was indeed very light and had a slight crunch to it.

After we had our fill of rolls and sashimi we moved to a Teppanyaki table and enjoyed some more shrimp and a clear broth soup.
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Hibachi

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The hibachi part of our visit to Hana Tokyo was enjoyable for both the experience and the food itself!

We finished the evening with several desserts: Fried Cheesecake, Fried Bananas, and several flavors of ice cream. All were equally delicious, but my favorite was all the different flavors of ice cream such as coconut and green tea.
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Fried Cheesecake (left) and Fried Bananas (right).

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Coconut, mango, red bean, and green tea ice cream.

Hana Tokyo
1275 Post Road
The Brick Walk Plaza
Fairfield, CT 06824
203-256-0800

Disclaimer: I was invited to this dinner, however all opinions expressed herein are my own.

Hana Tokyo on Urbanspoon

Get Ready, Greenwich Is Kicking Off Its FIRST Restaurant Week November 12-19!

Attention, Foodies!

Greenwich will be joining the local restaurant week scene with their inaugural restaurant week from November 12-19!

Over 35 restaurants will be offering dining specials throughout the week and to make Greenwich’s restaurant week stand out from others you can expect special events such as wine tastings, corporate dinners, cocktail parties, and menu tastings at participating restaurants.

And if the special events were not enough, Greenwich Restaurant Week, aka GRW, has it’s own mobile app. How cool is that?!

The GRW mobile app (and website) can be used to find out more about participating restaurants and events and even make reservations: “Greenwich Restaurant Week is a great way for all of the restaurants to put their best foot forward during a week where new and old faces will fill their places. We are also very excited to incorporate the retailers who are generously offering a discount to diners to shop at their locations throughout the week. The website and GRW mobile app will be on-going useful tools for people looking for fast information right at their fingertips, with click-to-call, click-for-directions, menus, reservations, online ordering, a daily calendar of events and much more.  Currently there is no mobile app for Greenwich with consolidated information and we are happy to finally be bring that to the table,” said Event Organizer Jen Danzi.

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What special events can you expect to see during GRW?

THE OPENING NIGHT KICK-OFF PARTY – On Nov. 12th from 6:30 p.m. until 9 p.m., the kickoff party will be held in the newly renovated Miller Motorcars Ferrari Maserati Showroom at 342 West Putnam Avenue. Tickets can be purchased on the Greenwich Restaurant Week web site for $100 per general admission ticket and $200 per VIP ticket, which includes a private tasting and gift bag. The proceeds will go towards The Transportation Association of Greenwich (TAG), a private not-for-profit organization specializing in transportation services for elderly disabled individuals and transportation for the disadvantaged of all ages.

 

CELEBRATE GRW AT CHAR – On Nov. 14th, in partnership with media sponsor Greenwich Magazine and Barbara Zaccagnini, celebrate Greenwich Restaurant Week at CHAR Restaurant, located at 2 South Water Street. The celebration will be held from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. The event is by invitation only.

 

THE JAMES BEARD HOUSE – Chef Rui Correia will be hosting a dinner at The James Beard House, located at 167 W 12th Street in New York City, on Nov. 17th starting at 7 p.m. Following a reception, guests will get to experience a five-course dinner and wine pairing. For reservations, contact The James Beard House at (212) 627 – 2308. Tickets are $170. Save $40 by using the code “majoram” and mention you are a friend of the chef.

 

DINE. SHOP. SAVE. – During Greenwich Restaurant Week, diners will have the opportunity to dine, shop and save. After dining, save your receipt and bring it to one of the 21 participating retailers who will be offering 10% off to all customers who bring in their receipt from Greenwich Restaurant Week.

 

CHECK IN TO WIN & #TAG IT TO SNAG IT - Throughout GRW anyone who Checks in on Facebook at any of the participating restaurants or retail locations, or incorporates #GRW on any social media will be eligible to win A Double Handle Equestrian Bit Serving Board from Soundview Millworks.

 

Restaurants you can expect to be participating in GRW include Applausi, Beach House Café, Bella Nonna, Bistro Latino, Bistro Versailles & Patisserie, Blackstones, Bobby Q’s, Char Restaurant, Coast Seafood Restaurant, Crew, Douro Restaurant, Eatalian, Elm Street Oyster House, Famous Greek Kitchen, Gabriele’s Italian Steakhouse, Gingerman, Golden View Firenze, Harvest, Le Penguin, l’escale, Leafline Salad Co., Little Luigis Pizza, Little Pub, Mark’s Quality Meats & Gourmet Seafood, Mediterraneo, Morello Italian Bistro, Organic Planet, Polpo Restaurant and Saloon, Sweet Peas Baking Company, Tengda, Terra, The Cos Cobber, The Drawing Room, The Jhouse Restaurant and The Mumbai Times.

 

Also, some local organizations and businesses who are sponsoring GRW sponsors include Greenwich Magazine, Miller Motorcars, Barbara Zaccagnini, Greenwich Hospital, Wells Fargo Private Bank, Withers Bergman, LLP., Ruby Media Group, The J House Greenwich, Soundview Millworks, Sandboxx and more. Beverage partners include Whispering Angel Rose, American Harvest Vodka and Spiked Seltzer.

 

For more information visit  www.greenwichrestaurantweek.com – hope to see you at Greenwich Restaurant Week!

Today’s Thursday and that means it’s STEAK DAY at Dew Drop Inn!

Every Thursday is a special day at Dew Drop Inn because Thursdays are Steak Day!
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For $14.95 you get this plate of AWESOMENESS! The steak is seasoned and delicious by itself, but if you prefer to add another layer of flavor try it with fried onions and mushrooms for an additional $2. Along with a steak you also get mashed potatoes and glazed carrots. The mashed potatoes are slightly lumpy, as mashed potatoes should be, and the carrots are a little sweet – just the way I like them – so that you’ll want to eat them all. In fact, you’ll want to clean your plate once you take a bite!

 

 

Dew Drop Inn

25 North Ave

Derby, CT

203-737-7757

Brick + Wood Is Opening November 1st in Fairfield

Brick + Wood: Love Life (And Pizza) is set to open their doors with a soft opening on November 1st!
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Located in the former Ponte Vecchio in Brick Walk in Fairfield, Brick + Wood has transformed the space with the help of Haverson Architecture and Design of Greenwich to create a multi-layered and multi-sensory restaurant and bar.

Expect to see stressed wood and worn Chicago brick, a mosaic tiled pizza oven, and a Calcutta Ciero marble top mozzarella bar. That’s right, there’s going to be a mozzarella bar with hand pulled mozzarella prepared each day along with a variety of imported and cured meats!

In addition to meat and cheese, the menu at Brick + Wood will focus on Italian street food such as Arancini, potato crocchette, fried calamari, stuffed calzone, paninis, salads, and wood-fired thin crust pizza.

Brick + Wood has the distinction of being one of only a handful if pizzaiolas in the United States who have earned the certification by the Associazone Pizzaiuoli Neopolitani (APN) to serve authentic Neopolitan pizza.

Brick + Wood
1275 Post Road
Fairfield, CT 06825
203-939-1400

For more information visit Brick + Wood’s website.

Little Barn In Westport Is Anything But Little

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“Little” might be in its name, but Little Barn in Westport is anything but little. Instead you can expect attentive service and well-crafted cocktails in an environment that I would call country chic – a perfect fit for Westport. And of course there’s the food. Oh, the food! Everything we tasted at Little Barn we liked so very much and I cannot wait to visit again. Little Barn’s menu is an ecclectic mix of American pub food with some classics, both hearty and light. It is the type of menu that appeals to different tastes and cravings and is sure to please your entire group.

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The decor at Little Barn reminds me of quaint and cozy barns you might find in Vermont that have been reclaimed and renovated. Distressed wood on the outside of the restaurant is continued throughout the inside on the floors and walls, and exposed beams in the ceiling creating a warm environment full of character and charm. A bar area with hightop tables and a more traditional dining area, along with an outdoor patio, offer a variety of dining areas perfect for anything from a cocktail to a full meal. The two rustic stone fireplaces add the finishing touch to the indoor and outdoor dining areas.

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Dining Room

 

Also, if the location looks familiar, yes, it is indeed the former Swanky Frank’s location, however co-owner Scott Beck explained how they renovated and built Little Barn from the ground up, literally.

 

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View of the bar from the dining room

 

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Outdoor patio

 

 Craft Cocktails

We tried two cocktails from Little Barn’s Octoberfest menu: Cider and Black Rock Lemonade. The Cider made is steaming local apple cider that is mulled – and the best part I think – spiked with Fireball cinnamon whisky. The hint of cinnamon with the warm cider is perfect on a cool night and I enjoyed sipping it by the outdoor fireplace on Little Barn’s patio.

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If the Black Rock Lemonade sounds familiar, it should be because you can also enjoy it at the Chelsea in Fairfield, also co-owned by Scott Beck. American Harvest vodka and fresh lemonade are shaken with a black cherry-jalapeno puree to create a drink that has a slight kick, but mostly you are left with an interesting and appealing mixture of the lemonade, black cherry and jalapeno flavors.

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Snacks by the fire…

We snacked on the Giant Pretzel with our cocktails and it is exactly how it is described – GIANT. It is easily  an appetizer to be shared even if you are really hungry. Served with a spicy stout and honey mustard dipping sauces the pretzel stands out because it is deep fried, but not greasy, creating a texture similar to fried dough on the outside that is slightly crispy and soft and chewy on the inside as you’d expect with a pretzel. I liked both dipping sauces, however the spicy stout was my favorite.

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Appetizers

Kale

Kale is an item that has become increasingly popular on menus, so I was delighted to see Little Barn’s version of a kale salad is different from most others that I have tried lately. Made with raw kale, shaved fennel, dried cranberries, candied pecans, and red wine vinaigrette the flavors of all the ingredients pair very well with the kale, especially the cranberries and candied pecans (who doesn’t like candied pecans?!),  and I think make this salad very interesting. The added sweetness is always appealing if you have a sweet tooth like I do.

 

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Shaved Brussels Sprouts

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Brussels sprouts is another popular menu item and I was again impressed with how Little Barn put their own twist on this increasingly popular vegetable. The Shaved Brussels Sprouts are tossed with toasted pumpkin seeds, granny smith apples, and dried cranberries in a whole grain honey mustard vinaigrette with parmesan cheese. The flavors of the pumpkin seeds and apples along with the other ingredients made this dish just different enough that it stands out from others I have tried elsewhere.

 

Tai Chicken Lettuce Cups

 

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I am a big fan of lettuce wraps (or cups) in general, but the Thai Chicken Lettuce Cups are a little different and they made me say, “Oooooo!” At Little Barn the chicken is made with chopped peanuts and a hot chili sauce and served along with baby bibb lettuce so you can build your own lettuce wrap or cup. The subtle hint of the peanuts along with the flavor of the chili sauce, which was not hot if you’re someone who doesn’t like too much heat, is quite frankly, delicious.

 

Tuna Blocks 

 

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The Tuna Blocks were a hit with our entire group and had people oo-ing and ah-ing. Pan seared sesame crusted Ahi Tuna over smooth roasted jalapeno-avocado puree, topped with grilled pineapple pico de gallo and a little siracha on the side creates this flavorful appetizer.

 

Tacos

I am pleased to say that we were able to try two types of tacos at Little Barn: beef tacos and chicken tacos. Also, they do have fish tacos on the menu for all you fish taco fans. Both tacos were flavorful and delicious. The addition of the roasted pineapple in the beef tacos and the chipotle mayo in the chicken tacos added to each dish and really made them stand out, especially since this is a menu item we see very regularly.

 

The chicken tacos are made with marinated grilled chicken, pico de gallo, micro cilantro, and a chipotle mayo to give it a little kick.

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The beef tacos are made of char grilled filet tips, roasted pineapple, guacamole, pico de gallo and micro cilantro.

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A close up of a serving of thai chicken lettuce cup, taco, and tuna block.

 

Entrees

Chicken Pot Pie

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This beauty was the star of the show for me and if I had to pick a favorite, which is so hard because I really enjoyed everything we sampled, I think I would have to vote for the chicken pot pie.  Chopped braised chicken, carrots, peas and onions, in a rich cream sauce and topped with a flaky puff pastry create this simple, yet hearty dish. The perfectly flaky and buttery puff pastry on top of the chicken that was shredded pushed this chicken pot pie to the top of my favorites list. The chicken pot pie is large and could easily be shared between two people, or it will guarantee some amazing leftovers for the next day. Either way, I’ll be coming back to enjoy the chicken pot pie at Little Barn on a cold snowy day when I’m craving this dish.

 

Meatloaf

 

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Meatloaf is one of those dishes that people either find comforting and love or avoid altogether. I find meatloaf to be comforting, however not everyone gets this dish right and meatloaf can be a tricky thing to make. Little Barn gets their meatloaf right. So very right. The meatloaf is a family recipe and is served with mashed potatoes, buttered corn and a creamy cognac sauce. The sauce was delicious and similar to a gravy in thickness, but was not too heavy. The meatloaf itself has a texture more similar to a pate than you  might be used to with a more traditional meatloaf and I think that’s where Little Barn’s version stands out for me. If you’re craving meatloaf, Little Barn’s is one you must try.

 

Ahi Tuna

 

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The Ahi tuna made with sesame and wasabi crusted Ahi over a warm soba noodle salad with sweet soy, scallions, and a little sriracha is very good. The crust of the sesame and wasabi create in interesting texture and the flavors, along with the sweet soy over the noodles and the sriracha, make this dish a success.

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Brat

 

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The Brat shows the range of items on Little Barn’s menu. For this dish grilled beer brats served on a pretzel bun with kraut, stout mustard and relish with a generous side of German potato salad. I have to say that the German potato salad is quite possibly one of the best I’ve ever had, also putting this dish on my favorites list.

 

Dessert

When you visit Little Barn make sure you save room for dessert. From the classic warm brownie with ice cream to the very unique cookie dough bites, there is something to satisfy any sweet tooth.

 

Brownie

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The brownie – YUMMMMM! The warm chocolate chip brownie was soft and slighty gooey and topped with chipped cream. Served over caramel sauce and with a side of vanilla ice cream, this classic dessert will leave you with a smile on your face.

 

Pumpkin Pie

 

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It’s October, so of course there is pumpkin pie on the dessert menu. Pumpkin pie lovers take note,  this one is a creamy fall spiced pumpkin pie with a dollop of whipped cream.

 

Cookie Dough Bites

 

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If you’re looking for a more unique dessert to try, then look no further. The cookie dough bites at Little Barn are crispy chocolate chip cookie dough bites dusted with powdered sugar with a scoop of vanilla gelato. The gooey and chocolaty bites are fried, but they are not greasy or too heavy, and they remind me of something you might have at a carnival or fair.

 

If you’re looking for somewhere new to have a meal, visit Little Barn, the charming, cozy restaurant with a wide selection of dishes from the classics to those with their own unique twist to appeal to big appetites.

 

Little Barn

1050 Post Road East

Westport, CT 06880

(203) 557-8501

For more info check out Little Barn’s FaceBook page here.

 

Disclaimer: I was invited to this dinner, however all opinions expressed herein are my own.

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Gastro Bar Brings the Mediterranean to Downtown Stamford

 

A new restaurant has opened in Stamford with food and decor that is as vibrant as the downtown scene it now calls home – Gastro Bar!

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Overlooking Columbus Park Circle from its location at 78 West Park Place, Gastro Bar’s large glass doors open onto their outdoor patio area allowing diners to experience the energy of both the restaurant and downtown Stamford no matter if they prefer eating inside or out.

A pop of bright teal blue begins with the awning and sign and carries throughout the restaurant itself with beautiful blue leather upholstered chairs. Exposed brick, the dark wood of the long bar, and hand painted murals help to create an atmosphere that is comfortable yet full of energy in a space which seats about 80 people.
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Mediterranean flavors and tapas are the foundation of Gastro Bar’s menu and you can see the influence of Italian, French, and Spanish cuisine along with the Ecuadorian background of owners, and brothers, Mario and Alejandro Lopez, and Excecutive Chef Fernando Gomez.

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Drinks
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With the word “bar” as part of its name, we had to try several cocktails off of Gastro Bar’s specialty drinks menu. Above is pictured the West Park Tini (top left),  White Sangria, which is made in house and sold by the glass or the pitcher (top right), the G’Maretto and the Slow & Low (bottom left), and the Gastro Mule (bottom right).

Appetizers 

One of my favorite parts of dining at Gastro Bar is the array of appetizer and tapas to choose from! From pizza to fried calamari to oysters, Gastro Bar has a large selection of appetizers perfect to start off your meal, or if you prefer to have some tapas or small plates and a cocktail.

Pizza

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The pizza here is delicious and makes my pizza list (I’m kind of particular about my pizza)

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The Mushroom pizza (above) made with mushrooms, bacon, and fontina cheese was very popular with our entire group .

 

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The Fig and Goat Cheese pizza was my favorite and I cannot wait to order it again next time I visit Gastro Bar. Made with figs, goat cheese, a 10 year balsamic, proscuitto, and arugula, this pizza is light and packed with flavors from all the ingredients which compliment each other very well.

 

Bianco

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Grilled chicken, tomato, ricotta, and truffle oil comprise this simple, yet tasty, pizza that our group really enjoyed.

Margherita

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Hierloom tomato, buffalo mozzarela cheese, and basil are what makes this classic Margherita pizza.

Oysters

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Gastro Bar’s crispy oysters are uniquely served  over an avocado puree topped with grapefruit and radish.

Salmon Tartar

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The Salmon Tartar is excellent and something I would highly recommend you order and try at Gastro Bar. Made with jalapenos, shallots, crispy potatoes, and cilantro, this Salmon Tartar is very fresh and  gives you a small kick from the jalapenos. The crispy potatoes, which are somewhat like potato chips, add a light saltiness to the dish.

 

Brussles Sprout Salad
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Shaved brussels sprouts, truffle oil, and lemon juice presented on top of a crispy and delicious risotto cake make for a very different kind of salad. The shaved brussels sprouts are very light and somewhat crunchy, as you would expect with a salad, and the truffle oil creates a slight nutty flavor. You could think of this salad as brussels sprouts deconstructed essentially, and if you like brussels sprouts and are looking for a unique way to eat them then this dish is for you.

 

Albondigas

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The albondigas are essentially lamb meatballs  made with baby kale and tomato sauce with a 10 year balsamic reduction drizzled over the top and they taste as good as they sound!

 

Eggplant Parmesean 

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When I tried a bite all I could think was – WOW, WOW, WOW! Eggplant Parmesean is one of my favorite dishes. I order it often and occasionally use it to help me decide how I feel about a restaurant. The Eggplant Parmesean at Gastro Bar made my list of favorites and I would make the drive here just for this dish. Baked eggplant, prosciutto, marscarpone and ricotta cheese.

 

Cavatelli

 

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If you’re looking for a hearty pasta dish, especially since our New England Autumn will soon turn to Winter, then I would suggest the Cavatelli at Gastro Bar. The short rib ragu is cooked with red wine vegetable stock and combined with black truffle and cream and if you’re wondering if you should order it, my answer is a resounding YES.

 

Baked King Salmon

 

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I went into my first bite slightly biased since I don’t really like horseradish, however I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised and the dish was popular with our group. The salmon is cooked perfectly and the flavors of the horseradish, beets, and celery pair nicely with the salmon and the potatoes.

 

Paella

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Our final dish was the Paella. Clams, shrimp, chicken, mussels, calamari, sweet peas, chorizo, and saffron rice are all cooked together to create this truly impressive dish. Quite possibly the best paella I have had to date, the paella is something you must try at Gastro Bar.
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Dessert

Key Lime Mousse

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If you’re looking for something that’s a little different for dessert I would suggest you try the key lime mousse; it has all the flavors of key lime pie but in the form of a mousse and it is delicious.

 

Panacotta in Red Wine Sauce
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Isn’t it beautiful? The Panna cotta is a creamy and somewhat gelatin Italian dessert that is usually served with fruit or something similar. The panna cotta at Gastro Bar is served over a red wine sauce from which is takes a little flavor while remaining light.

 

 

 

 

Gastro Bar

78 West Park Place

Stamford, CT

203-817-0392

 

 

*Disclaimer: I was invited to this dinner, however all the views and opinions expressed herein are my own.

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Washington Prime: You Certainly Will Eat and Drink Well Here!

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On the corner of Washington Street and Water Street is South Norwalk’s newest formidable addition to the food scene: Washington Prime, Eating + Drinking Well.

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The large glass windows, clean brick façade with a pop of orange in the outdoor seating and bold lettered sign outside grabs your attention and beckons you to go inside.

And go inside, you must!

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The inside of Washington Prime is pleasantly surprising and not what I was expecting based on its outside appearance. The interior atmosphere is cozy, comfortable, and trendy, and you might even say a little funky with some unexpected features.

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Photo courtesy of MaxExposure

I don’t know about you, but for me I really notice the atmosphere of a restaurant and my response to it once I am seated. When you sit inside Washington Prime it’s as if you’re sitting under a canopy. The large windows give you a fantastic view outside so you almost feel as if you are indeed outside.

Polished cement flooring and exposed reddish-orange iron beams pay homage to the space’s former occupation as the old Ironwork’s building, and these details are softened by a green ivy (yes, I said green ivy) backsplash behind the marble bar, ivy climbing and woven around the iron beams, and a floor-to-ceiling ivy wall. Reclaimed wood shelving and wood panels along with delicate hanging lights from the canopy of iron, wood, and ivy simultaneously create a cozy and edgy atmosphere.

For diners who wish to actually enjoy their meal outside, Washigton Prime has two outdoor seating options: traditional tables and chairs (see photos above) and a lounge style patio area which is perfect for hanging out during happy hour.

Drinks

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I began the evening with the “Pippi Longstocking,” which I picked for both its ingredients and its name! The “Pippi Longstocking” is made with Smirnoff vodka, muddled strawberry, vanilla bean, and lime juice.

 

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My husband enjoyed the “Moscow Mule” made with Tito’s vodka, ginger puree, lime juice, and ginger beer.

Appetizers

We began our dinner with a Seafood Tower comprised of colossal shrimp, local oysters, little necks, Alaskan king crab legs, Maine lobster served with spicy mustard, house cocktail sauce, and classic mignionette.

Aside from the wide assortment of seafood to choose from, the Seafood Tower was noted by everyone in our group for its freshness and how the accompanying sauces added some extra flavors to get everyone’s tastebuds going. This appetizer was a huge hit with our group and I’d recommend ordering it when you visit Washington Prime.

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Deviled Eggs 

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Deviled eggs are an item I noticing more and more on restaurant menus, but I have to point out that what makes the deviled eggs unique at Washington Prime is the addition of the mini meatball and fois gras powder.  That’s right, these deviled eggs are made with a creamy yolk, a prime mini meatball, pickled onions, and fois gras powder. I should also add that this appetizer, like so many we tried at Washington Prime, is gluten free.

 

Lobster Bisque

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Similar to the Deviled Eggs, this next appetizer is also something you see on so many menus in Connecticut and the surrounding areas – Lobster Bisque. What sets Washington Prime’s Lobster Bisque apart from others I have tried is the freshness of the lobster coming through along with the flavors of parsley crème fraische. Overall the soup is not too heavy, but rather a brilliant balance of flavors and ingredients to create a lobster bisque that is light, flavorful, and memorable.

 

Burrata

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I’m a newcomer to burrata cheese and I have no idea what took me to long! Burrata is an Italian cheese made with mozzarella and cream so it is very soft and creamy. The Burrata appetizer is a combination of burrata cheese, creamy slaw, sambal aioli, and sesame on top of a pretzel bread. The soft burrata spreads on the bread, and the bread helps to soak up the creaminess of the cheese and the creamy slaw – delicious!

 

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Executive Chef Jared Falco came out several times to talk about the different dishes and explain their ingredients and the cooking process. It’s always a great experience hearing chefs talk about their dishes and the cooking process! Here he is describing the fantastic poutine to us.

Poutine

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The Poutine was hands-down my FAVORITE dish of the evening. I’ve never experienced poutine before, and wow have I been missing out! Made with oxtail ragu, house fries, cheese curds, and green onions this dish reminds me of disco fries – the starchiness and saltiness of the housemade fries along with the flavor of excellent ragu and creamy cheese curds -but it’s a hundred time better! This appetizer is large and could be made into a meal all by itself, which I have to admit,  I’m looking forward to doing next time I visit.

Knuckle & Claw

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What I liked about the Knuckle & Claw was the uniqueness of the dish. Blue corn grits, lobster sauce, and tobiko really create a medley of flavors and textures that is something you must experience for yourself.

Octopus

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Octopus is quickly becoming one of my favorite things to eat and the Octopus at Washington Prime makes my list of favorites. Pickled peppers, duck fat marble potato, and a pepper emulsion comprise this dish along with perfectly cooked octopus.

Wings

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My dear reader, most of you know that I’m very partial, ok let me be honest, I’m biased when it comes to wings and I have my favorite wing place. However, the wings at Washington Prime have made my list of favorite wings. Seriously. These fried wings are tossed in a kimchi sauce and served with scallions, soy, and chilli and they are gooooooood. Aside from the flavors of the kimchi sauce and other ingredients together, nothing beats a chicken wing that is cooked just right and would be delicious even without all the extra goodness of sauces and other toppings as these wings are.

Chop Chop Salad

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The Chop Chop Salad is light and I really liked all the flavors of the Iceberg & romaine lettuce, bell peppers, onion, carrot, provolone, salami, and red wine vinaigrette.

Prime Wedge

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For fans of wedge salads, this one is worth trying! Washington Prime’s Wedge Salad includes gem iceberg lettuce, pickled heirloom tomatoes, bacon, Ewes blue cheese, chili, and house ranch dressing. What makes this wedge salad different, and the part I enjoyed, was both the blue cheese and the ranch dressing together in this one salad making this wedge a little different from what you typically see elsewhere.

Land & Sea (aka our entrees)

There were so many entrees to try from that by the end of our meal I was convinced that Washington Prime truly offers something for everyone.

Sea
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The Grouper and the Scallops further demonstrated how Washington Prime’s menu puts their own unique twist on items you might typically see on menus elsewhere. The Grouper (pictured above)  is presented over Carolina gold rice along with tomato, asparagus, and a carrot butter sauce, while the Scallops (pictured below) are plated with middlins, corn relish, nicoise olives, and hunters sauce. An added feature that’s sure to please is that both dishes are gluten-free.

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Photo courtesy of MaxExposure

Land

When one goes to the steakhouse, one must try the steak at the steakhouse, and that is just what we did! For the land portion of our entrees we tried three different steaks: the 8 ounce filet mignon, 18 ounce ribeye, and the 32 ounce porterhouse.

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Photo courtesy of MaxExposure

All the steaks at Washington Prime are USDA prime certified and sourced from Pat LaFrieda meats in New York City and originally from Creekstone Farms in Arkansas City, Kansas (for even more info check out Washington Prime’s website). Cooked in a 900 degree special broiler to your preference and served with your choice of one sauce (prime steak sauce, chimichurri, horseradish sauce, umami bomb sauce, bernaise sauce, warm clarified butter, or maple truffle chili sauce). Washington Prime takes their steaks very seriously and it shows when you bite into one.

Dessert

Dessert is the finishing touch to a wonderful meal and Washington Prime gave us not one, but four different ways to finish our memorable meal!
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The chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwich is made from scratch at Washington Prime and is served with cereal milk – that sweet, sugary milk similar to what you experience when you get to the end of a bowl of cereal – and it is every bit as good as it sounds. The cheesecake shown here with two different types of sauces on top are  classic examples of what cheesecake should taste like. Finally, we tried a chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream combination covered in a chocolate shell and then drizzled with caramel sauce when served. It was hard to choose which was my favorite; these are desserts you want to tell people about, but you won’t want to share them when they come to the table!

Whether you come for happy hour on the patio or to enjoy lunch or a full dinner, you can expect a dining experience that will beckon your belly to return!

 

Washington Prime
141 Washington Street
South Norwalk, CT
For reservations call 203-857-1314

 

*Disclaimer: I was invited to this dinner, however all the views and opinions expressed herein are my own.

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