Upon entering Tuscany Ristorante, guests are greeted by the sweeping country landscapes that pepper the bright-yellow walls, evoking summers spent under the Tuscan sun, sipping wine and dancing the tarantella until the INS showed up. The warm interiors paired with crisp white linens and hardwood floors infuse the restaurant with a casual elegance to match its classic, flavorful fare. The chefs whip up rich Tuscan dishes, including hearty pasta; prime, dry-aged steaks; and decadent housemade desserts. Pasta and risotto entrees showcase carb sculptures such as the rich rigatoni boccelli, which, like any marble statue, comes doused in pancetta and light vodka sauce. As guests dine, they can indulge in a bottle of wine plucked from the floor-to-ceiling wine rack that lines the walls with rustic wood planks and elegantly displays hundreds of bottles.
French-American cuisine and sumptuous wines make their home in Epernay Bistro's casual fine-dining atmosphere. Chef and owner Peter Wroe forages for the freshest produce from local growers and irate farmers' carrot patches to craft a dinner menu that highlights seasonal ingredients. Inventive evening entrees include the provence-lamb stew over herbed noodles ($20) and a seared-sea-scallop chowder that marries onions, carrots, and celery with red potato and bacon ($23). Meanwhile, the house-made country pâté with dijon and cornichon represents the more traditional end of the fusion spectrum ($10).
Though the brick bar and large, bright front windows immediately catch customers’ eyeballs, Bare Tapas & Vino is a restaurant best represented by its Mediterranean-inspired menus of tapas, pizzas, wine, and cocktails. Elegant small plates include grilled steak tips in a demi glaze, crisp, golden shrimp, or crab cakes. Flatbreads easily carry toppings such as roasted tomatoes, fresh basil, and mozzarella, or combinations of asparagus, roasted onion, and smoked peppers. In accompaniment, wines hail from the vineyards of California or Portugal, while cocktails of exotic fruit blends sport colors more vibrant than the cheek of a crying two year old.
Eddie Rivera’s trip to Puerto Rico, during which he ate everything the island had to offer, convinced the entrepreneur to bring Puerto Rican cuisine back to Bridgeport. Thus, El Flamboyan Restaurant & Lounge was born, a brick, moody eatery reminiscent of those Eddie dined in while visiting bustling San Juan. Twin lobsters with two sides highlight a menu of island delicacies, from empanadas stuffed with crab or octopus to plantain mofongo mashed with roasted pork shoulder. Nightly special events include live DJs on weekends, and Thursday-night karaoke, when guests can emulate the chirpings of Puerto Rico’s iconic coquí frog.