India Kitchen?deemed Hartford County's Best Indian Restaurant in 2011 by readers of Connecticut Magazine?piles family-style offerings from North and South India onto its menu, concocting entrees with imported ingredients and an authentic tandoor oven. Patrons can play games of solitaire with 11 types of traditional breads, such as the raisin- and nut-filled khandari kulcha ($3.95). Jumbo shrimp slip into robes of lemon juice, yogurt, and spices before sizzling in the clay oven, only to emerge as tandoori shrimp ($15.95) or, in rare cases, a single giant shrimp with crime-fighting ambitions and mastery over fire. The chicken chutney wala surrounds poultry morsels with tangy pools of curried mango and mint sauce ($12.95), whereas cashew-and-almond sauce varnishes vegetable-and-cheese dumplings in the vegetarian malai kofta ($11.95).
In addition to its classic menu offerings, India Kitchen hosts a daily all-you-can-eat lunch buffet seven days a week as well as a Wednesday and Sunday night dinner buffet. Featuring a catering menu for larger groups, the restaurant's chefs portion out party-sized servings from a limited menu that includes naan ($32+) and vegetable biryani ($40+). For heartier mealtimes, they also simmer orders of lamb or fish curry ($90) that can either feed 30?40 people or one insatiable garbage disposal.
In 1909, Frank Pepe immigrated to the United States from his native town of Maiori, Italy. He was poor, illiterate, and just 16 years old?but he had a strong work ethic. After a stint in a New Haven factory and service as an Italian solider in World War I, he settled down for good in New Haven with his wife, Filomena, and started a bakery delivery service. But because he couldn?t read, he had trouble deciphering the orders. So he started having his customers come to him, and in 1925, he and Filomena added a simple item to the menu: Neapolitan-style pizzas.
To this day, the staff still heats up coal-fired ovens to bake the original tomato pies that Frank and Filomena first made famous. They can also add toppings such as bacon, Italian-imported anchovies, and house-roasted red peppers to their pizzas, or create specialty pies such as their signature white clam with olive oil, fresh garlic, and oregano. Diners can pair their pies with Pepe?s salad, tossed in balsamic vinaigrette, or have the server tap draft brews such as Sam Adams Boston Lager and Peroni. They?ve served Foxon Park soda since 1925, so diners can request bottles of cream soda or diet white-birch beer made from only the sveltest birch trees.
Chez Ben Diner serves everything you’d expect from a classic American diner—three-egg omelets, triple-decker club sandwiches, and burgers—with an unexpected twist: a selection of authentic French-Canadian dishes. Founded by Benoit and Solange Quirion, the restaurant recently passed to Windsor natives Joel and Anne Quirion who continue the family tradition of friendly service, all-day breakfast, and uniquely Canadian dishes, such as poutine, a combination of fries, cheese curds, and brown gravy. The emphasis on traditional Canadian eats hasn’t gone unnoticed: the breakfast poutine earned a mention in Serious Eats, and Roadfood.com calls the cretons—a cold pork spread that can be served on toast or used as stucco on a gingerbread house—“addictive.”
For more than 15 years, the specialists at The Spice Mill has blended and packaged fresh spices right in their warehouse. Their handiwork ranges from whole bay leaves to allspice and Cajun seasoning, a mix of flavors including paprika, thyme, cumin, and garlic.
CW's American menu?which features locally sourced seafood and thick-cut steaks?combines the comforting nostalgia of classic Americana with contemporary cooking techniques. Their modern methods include rubbing each cut of meat with a proprietary blend of spices before broiling them at 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit to seal in juices. When possible, the chefs source their seasonally changing ingredients from local businesses to encourage the local economy and give their wheelbarrow driver a break.
With the help of her grandmother, My Dream Cupcake's founder Julie L. learned to bake mouthwatering cupcakes at age 6. She discovered a natural passion for baking, and over the years, family and friends gushed with praise for her handheld treats. Since 2010, she's shared her gift with the public, crafting made-to-order cupcakes using quality chocolates, vanilla bean, and farm-fresh eggs. She eschews shortenings, oils, and prepackaged mixes, which ensures her desserts are free of trans fats and preservatives. In addition to their decadent taste, many of her desserts look almost too appealing to eat, such as her ornate children's birthday cakes and the cupcakes she frosts to look like hydrangeas and roses.