Not every Italian restaurant needs baked ziti and eggplant parmigiana. At Zeppoleme, the chefs strive to create a hybrid, bistro-style setting that combines elements of a wine bar, a coffee house, and a trattoria underneath the same roof. Instead of designing a menu that incorporates dishes from every corner of the Italian peninsula, the chefs choose to present diners with a curated collection of dishes that is intended to spotlight the potential of a handful of items prepared with hand-crafted care, as well as the occasional modern touch.
Befitting its name, zeppole—Italian-style donuts—appear prominently on Zeppoleme's menu. The list includes the time-honored version so often seen in the kitchens of Italian homes and on the streets during the annual Feast of St. Joseph; however, the chefs also create their own version by folding ricotta into the dough, making the pastry lighter and fluffier than their traditional counterparts. As many as six different dipping sauces, including vanilla cream, Nutella, and lemon glaze, can accompany these zeppole for dessert. For a more savory take on the treat though, Zeppoleme also offers another modern innovation: appetizer-sized versions stuffed with hearty fillings, such as bacon, chives, and provolone.
Although the zeppole appear prominently on the menu and even attracted the attention of Food Network personality Giada de Laurentiis, the selection also features a number of heartier gourmet options. Butter-pressed panini include everything from spicy eggplant and goat cheese to broccoli rabe and beef short ribs that braise for a full 24 hours. Even the salads put on upscale spin on the expected, as evidenced by the classic caesar made with kale instead of standard iceberg filler.
Stopping in for a quick bite or a meal is always an option, although Zeppoleme also caters to the whims of passersby seeking a drink and an opportunity to lounge for a bit in a relaxed setting. Baristas make specialty espresso drinks while exclusively using beans from Stumptown Coffee Roasters, and the bartenders keep spirits high full by pouring fresh glasses of wine straight from the taps. Even with its gourmet bistro spirit and festively vibrant decor, Zeppoleme never manages to lose "the friendly, drop-in culture that thrives here," according to the New York Times.
The Sundance Café & Wine Bar's kitchen teems with daily deliveries of crisp, fresh vegetables and natural meat ready for soaking in house marinades. Alongside cups of coffee sourced from around the globe, these ingredients create hearty breakfasts, lunches, and dinners of wraps, parfaits, and fondue. A vast salad bar plates custom greens alongside Spirit of Connecticut paninis, named after neighboring towns such as Milford, New Canaan, and Metropolis. Patrons relax in chairs emblazoned with the café's coffee cup logo as they dip bread and fruit into chocolate and cheese fondue and enjoy sips of fruity wine smoothies. Sundance also caters special breakfast and lunchtime meals, and hosts events such as live music and poetry readings beneath soft spotlights.
Robeks uses the freshest ingredients to craft made-to-order drinks and eats that will make you feel guilt-free about grabbing a quick bite. Join the berry party with berry smoothies such as the Banzai Blueberry, Strawnana Berry, and Cranberry Quest, all of which pulverize fruit together with all-natural juice, nonfat yogurt or sherbet, and ice ($3.69 junior, $4.69 regular, $5.69 large). For more pulchritudinous pulverized pulp, energize your day with power smoothies, including the Cardio Cooler (with a base of passion fruit and mango juice). Power smoothies blend juices, nonfat yogurt or sherbets, soy or whey protein, and vitamin boosters into an elixir that will revitalize even the most workout-withered body ($5.75 regular, $6.75 large). Bites include protein-packed Kim & Scott's Gourmet Pretzels, such as tomato parmesan or spinach feta ($2.75 each), and the hair-raising goodness of Lenny & Larry's power muffins or cookies, with flavors such as oatmeal raisin, chocolate chip, lemon poppy seed, and more ($1.95 each).
Franklin Street Works gallery and eatery provides a welcoming environment for local artists and social gatherers inside a two-story renovated row house, originally built in the late 19th century. The not-for-profit organization fosters creativity with art pieces, musicians, and artistic films inside its cozy space, replete with warm lighting and exposed-brick walls. The space hosts social programs to encourage socialization, such as wine tastings, talks by regional artists, and debates on which Skittle flavor is the tastiest. A menu of artisanal tidbits from regional vendors features gourmet sandwiches, draft beers, and baked goods that guests can savor knowing that profits help to sustain the artistic haven
Lorca prepares a wide variety of coffee beverages and the pastries to go with them. From chai lattes to mochas, americanos, iced coffee, and single-origin pour-over coffees, the baristas can slake just about any caffeine craving. To complement that bounty of bean-based beverages, they bake pastries such as croissants, muffins, and gluten-free St. James Spanish cakes made with ground almonds instead of flour.
Makis Food?s signature juice?the Maki Refueler?is a blend of carrots, mangoes, apples, and oranges. Likewise, the staff transforms medleys of fresh fruits and veggies into juices and smoothies, salads, and wraps. Highlights include the Makis salad, loaded with blueberries, feta cheese, and walnuts, and the sweet chicken wrap filled with fontina cheese and a housemade sauce.