For 45 years, Procaccini's Italian Family Restaurant (formerly known as Gino's) has dished up Italian favorites and house specialties. Under the guidance of executive chef Dobber, who has been a chef for more than 20 years, the menu ranges from specialty pizzas with Gino's original crust to pastas and grinders. Families pile into the cushioned booths that fill a dining room decorated with stained glass, murals of Venice, and flags of New England professional and collegiate sports teams. The cozy, casual setting is frequently a scene for family dinners, birthday parties, and celebrations after winning a bet on the Little League championship.
Featured by Paul Stern on Mansfield-StorrsPatch in 2011—just months after its opening—Coriander Cafe & Country Store has hatched quite the name for itself in Eastwood. According to Stern, brothers Scott and Brett Laffert run the show with Brett, a former chef and self-proclaimed “country person at heart,” transforming local ingredients into gourmet sandwiches, burgers, and straw hats. The shop makes all their breads—from ciabatta to whole wheat—in-house before stacking them with fresh-carved turkey and cranberry sauce or homemade black-bean patties. Yet the cooks don’t stop at handheld fare; the menu changes daily and can include anything from pan-seared haddock over corn-and-chive griddlecakes to braised pork belly with a side of chipotle grits.
Coriander Cafe also welcomes early risers into its country confines for a cup of fair-trade and organic coffee from Red Barn Coffee Roasters, a homemade bagel, or a decadent pastry such as a raspberry scone or cinnamon-sugar donut muffin, which guests can enjoy inside or amid fresh-picked oxygen molecules on the backyard deck. A fully stocked country store outfits fleeting customers with all the necessities, from homemade cookies and Red Barn coffee to gourmet jams and hot sauces.
Inspired by the "North of Little Italy" neighborhood of Manhattan—which is lined with quaint and authentic family-owned restaurants—Nolita Ristorante serves up classic Italian cuisine alongside an extensive craft beer selection at a contemporary bar, featuring 24 taps and a myriad of specialty cocktails. The impressive menu lists off a plethora of dishes, each composed with a nod toward sustainability, such as fresh produce and meats that are locally sourced whenever possible. Tender shrimp ravioli are tossed in a saffron cream sauce, while a bone-in pork chop is plated alongside a crispy polenta cake and sweet grilled peaches.
Dedicated to bringing the culinary traditions of Peru to Hartford’s diners, Piolin Restaurant II has been serving the signature sizzling meats and sautéed veggies of the region since 1998. Within the bustling kitchen, chefs architect dishes such as Peruvian yellow potatoes, sweet plantains, and fried yucca in addition to hearty meats ranging from grilled chicken to fried red snapper. Along with the re-creation of time-honored recipes, the brightly hued walls and cheery decor of Piolin’s dining room grant guests the feeling that they’ve escaped to Peru without the hassles of answering a TSA officer’s riddles.
Emerging hot from the brick oven, the melted cheese of a specialty pie bubbles beneath juicy tomatoes, fresh basil, and robust garlic: this is Gina’s Brick Oven Pizza's signature pizza. And like a circus with a geriatric lion, it is tamer than it could be. That's because Gina's other specialty pies include the Buffalo chicken and BBQ chicken pizzas. No matter which pizza is ordered, the cooks take care to evenly distribute the toppings throughout the entire thing. The kitchen also sends out jumbo burgers, Philly cheesesteaks and chicken sandwiches, which pair with the four beers on tap.