Chefs at Darien Social draw on their supplies of New England grown produce, farm raised meats, and local artisan products to craft their menu of American food. Entrees have included New York strip steaks with buttermilk onion rings, bone marrow, and creamed spinach and duck pizzas crowned with gruyere, duck confit, molasses, and squash crunch. To pair with rotating seasonal ingredients, the bartenders dispense a rotating selection of 31 different craft beers on draft and pour international wines.
Energetic instructors at Work It lead cardio, dance, and fitness classes seven days a week, cycling through yoga poses and spinning around poles in workouts that avoid gym monotony. Cadres of exercisers move to blood-pumping Latin–based choreography in cardio-heavy Zumba courses ($18/class), where alternating quick and slow tempos create a temporal distortion field previously accessible only to the funkiest physicists. Introductory pole-dancing courses ($25/class) let practitioners build strength and confidence as they twirl aerobically around metallic dance partners who never slip or insist on solo river-dancing routines.
Wide, high-arched windows usher sunlight into a dining room anchored by brick columns and a brick fireplace. Behind the dark wood bar, bottles and taps spill craft beers whose names bedeck a chalkboard menu. Under a constellation of speakers suspended from the ceiling, diners chow down on slices of gourmet pizza. John Dough's signature is the fresh clam pizza, a white pie decorated with littleneck clams that the chef shucks to order after fishing them from olive oil seas. Classic margherita, chicken pesto, and sausage and hot oil pizzas also sail out of the restaurant's oven, while custom pies show off a customer's choice of toppings.
Upon graduating from the New York French Culinary Institute, Chef Pasquale Pascarella continued his education under two of contemporary Italian cuisine's most famous chefs: Mario Batali and Scott Conant. He learned well—today, Chef Pascarella serves up his own take on Italian cuisine at Bar Sugo, a critically acclaimed eatery known for its cozy atmosphere and classic food.
For edible evidence of Pascarella's Italian mastery, look no further than his meatballs prepared six ways—some with duck and foie gras, others with beef, melted gouda, and red onion jam. But those who do look further will discover brick-oven pizzas topped with pulled pork and 12-year-old balsamic, as well as house-made pastas such as mint tagliatelle with lamb ragu. That same tasteful touch is extended to the beverage selection, which encompasses wine, Italian beers, and cocktails made with liquors aged and awarded their diplomas in a barrel. But no matter what guests select from the menu, Bar Sugo's laid-back decor—featuring brick walls, a red-and-white checkered floor, and a copper-topped bar—invites them to sit back and savor every bite.
The contemporary wood-paneled elegance of Butterfield 8's U-shaped leather booths and lamp-lit dining room complements the menu of urban American gastropub fare. Quash your hunger with the chipotle brisket nachos, bulging beneath the tasteful weight of pico de gallo, sour cream, guacamole, and chipotle pulled chicken ($12). Buttery mashed potatoes and crispy onions adorn the sauce-drizzled peppercorn skirt steak ($20), and the memphis pulled-pork sliders ($12) satiate mouths with bite-size morsels of flavor. Spread out in the spacious booths and imbibe the alchemical concoctions of specialty cocktails ($10) such as a dirty bleu martini, an ocean of Belvedere vodka bobbing with buoys of blue-cheese-stuffed olives, a drink as elegant as a chandelier in fur coat. Finish the feast with the chocolate-chip-cookie-dough smash, an iron skillet filled with half-baked cookie oozing beneath ice cream and chocolate sauce ($8).
The consortium of professional instructors at Fred Astaire Dance Studio, which was cofounded by the legendary dancer himself, shepherds students of all ages and skill levels through lessons that span the style spectrum. Low-pressure private sessions allow enthusiastic teachers to fine-tune individual students' techniques and form using their expert eyes. Patrons can learn how to cavort through classic waltz and fox-trot romps or swivel through the modern steps of salsa, swing, or samba. For dancers hoping to hoof it up in a social setting, the group practice parties provide a one-night extravaganza of instruction, demonstrations, and amateur firewalking.
BJ Ryan's dishes out hearty entrees and effervescent brews in an industrial-chic atmosphere. Diners slide into banquettes or dark wooden chairs and tuck into steak sandwiches inspired by New York and Philadelphia or cuts and chops lavished with sauces from chimichurri to béarnaise. Pizzas on white or whole-wheat crusts embrace decadent toppings such as truffle oil or gruyere cheese, and plates of geometric ravioli complement the dining room's rustic exposed-brick walls hung with large plasma televisions. Carved wood encircles the bar, whose inlaid mirrors reflect golden pints of house brews and the haunting stares of bottled spirits. BJ Ryan's also crafts platters of small bites, wings, and pizzas for special events.