When chef and artist Stelios Koutouvides and his wife, Niki, founded the Stonewell Restaurant, they did so with help from family. Over the years, their restaurant has been staffed by sons, Ari, Daki, and Niko; Niki’s sisters Starno and Loukia; and a revolving cast of nieces, nephews, and other extended family members. The Stonewell even keeps the decor in the family—Stelios’s original paintings of local landscapes decorate the three dining rooms, adding a personal touch that, unlike papering the walls with old diary entries, is pleasant to behold. Complementing these paintings are photographs of old stone wells, which hang from exposed brick walls, potted plants, a white fence, and the crackling fireplaces that warm each dining room.
Behind the scenes, Stelios and his team massage Mediterranean seasonings into USDA-certified Angus beef, sea scallops, and coastal fish. They toss traditional sauces and feta cheese with pasta, and grill lamb chops. Servers pair these dishes with beer and more than 40 wines, relaxing guests during dinner, private functions, and karaoke on Friday and Saturday nights.
"Now listen up," insists Connecticut Magazine. "Matthew?s tableside Caesar salad has to be the best in the state, if not the country." It's hard to argue with that claim. Starting with torn hearts of romaine lettuce, the salad is made right next to your table, which gives you the chance to catch the distinct aromas of garlic croutons and parmesan cheese before each is thrown into the mix.
Executive Chef Greg Marcuson's culinary talents, of course, extend beyond salad. In fact, they're visible throughout Matthew's menu, in the Berkshire lamb shanks he braises for eight hours and in the cheddar grits he pairs with jumbo shrimp tossed in a barbecue dry rub.
But even the food can't claim sole responsibility for Matthew's popularity. Credit is also due to the restaurant's idyllic location, which includes a spacious outdoor patio with a stunning view of the Farmington River and its kindly fish god.
Each Wood-N-Tap restaurant’s kitchen serves a menu of casual American food that ranges from burgers and sandwiches to pasta, pizza, and entrees. The eatery partners with farms from New Jersey to Maine to cultivate 100% all-natural meats for their homegrown burgers, which feature tender hormone-, steroid-, and antibiotic-free meats such as Wagyu beef, bison, free-range turkey, and pork. Chefs grill entrees including swordfish and bourbon-marinated grilled sirloin, as well as signature items such as mac ‘n’ cheese pizza and Bar Bites sliders constructed with bison, Angus beef, turkey, or a baseball.
Wood-N-Tap blossomed from the fitting combination of its owners’ skills—Mike scouts the locations, Phil markets the brand, and Wil and Kenny manage the daily operations of the various locations. More than a decade ago, after forging a friendship as strong as oak and a partnership as strong as steel-reinforced oak, the crew opened the first Wood-N-Tap location in 2002—and they have expanded to seven locations and counting.
Landry's, Inc. operates more than 40 restaurant brands with only two main goals: good food and good memories. Thankfully, each of their venues has a signature element that's hard to forget, whether the Oceanaire's fresh seafood?flown in daily?or Rainforest Cafe's animatronic wildlife that's almost as realistic as the Amazon's wind-up monkeys. Steak and seafood spots feature prominently on the list of Landry's locations, including Morton's The Steakhouse, Vic & Anthony's Steakhouse, and McCormick & Schmick's Seafood & Steaks. But there are standouts in other genres, too, such as the Italian trattoria known as Grotto.
Presentation is paramount at Mikado Asian Bistro, where dozens of fusion-cuisine sushi rolls thrive in an environment of modern interior design. At the sushi bar itself, diners watch on as chefs prepare that sushi before their eyes, from the Out Of Control roll with shrimp tempura, spicy crab, and house sauce to the regal Royal King roll with lobster tempura, asparagus, and a spicy mango sauce. And that's not even counting the hot entrees, which range from Japanese classics such as ton katsu and seafood tempura to spicy pad thai and Szechuan-style tofu.