Stillanos Pikos has gone from watching stock prices fall on Wall Street to watching cakes rise in the ovens at Fusion Bakery & Patisserie. The bakery owner—who is originally from the Greek island of Rhodes—found his original career in finance to be less than fulfilling. After resisting the urge to follow in the footsteps of his family's food business, Pikos decided to enroll in the Connecticut Culinary School. He worked at an exclusive hotel restaurant before assisting friends with their bakeries, which gave rise to the development of Fusion Bakery & Patisserie. Jeff Mill of The Middletown Press notes that the name represents "a combination of European and American desserts,” and that the establishment "is a throwback to a time not so long ago when every town had a bakery, and often more than one."
Pikos and fellow pastry chef Jen McGuinness bake cinnamon rolls, brownies, danishes, baklava, and scones from scratch every morning. They prepare decadent wedding and specialty cakes, including The Very Best Carrot Cake with cream-cheese frosting and optional nuts. As reported by Cassandra Day of Middletown Patch, the bakery ran a "Where's Ginger?" holiday promotion in which patrons guessed the location of a gingerbread man shown in photos around town to win a free pound of cookies and a year of icing-based vinyl siding repairs.
The brilliant baristas at Klekolo pour steaming cups of joe and craft specialty drinks in their funky Court Street location. Using beans from a variety of roasters—most of them organic and free trade—the staff brews each cup ($1.30–$2.25) from the drip bar. Expertly made espresso ($1.25) steams in tiny mugs stolen from caffeinated elves, and specialty drinks such as the Witches' Brew transfix taste buds with a spell of caramel, hazelnut, chocolate, and espresso. Combat severe cases of indecision by filling tankards with smooshies ($5.75), a combination smoothie-slushie that dallies in fruit flavors as well as java incarnations. The pastry case houses a rotating selection of scrumptious sweets ($1.80–$4.95); recent offerings have included rich turtle-cheesecake bars and flaky lemon danish. While sipping from mugs, patrons can gaze at the local artwork dotting the richly hued purple walls, use free WiFi to email lonely houseplants, or admire the 10 cents they saved by bringing in their own bean-juice receptacles.
Sanremo Bakery conquers appetites with traditional Italian dishes and pastries. The family-owned business opens at 7 a.m. every day of the week, powering up morning customers with its breakfast pizza composed of eggs, home fries, bacon, and cheddar. Chefs prepare more than 10 other specialty pizzas for lunch and dinner, as well as pasta trays of lasagna, eggplant parmigiana, and ravioli that are large enough to feed 15–25 people or one Italian lumberjack.
The café menu at Hartford Baking Company displays a slew of sandwiches framed in fresh artisan breads and pastries baked from scratch. Fluffy multigrain bread cushions the roasted turkey slathered in cranberry-sage mayo and caramelized onion jam ($7.45), and the flavor of roast beef emerges full-force when coaxed by a blue-cheese spread and caramelized onions, all resting on a rustic roll ($7.95). Hartford Baking Company counts among its doughy dominion a variety of weekly rotating bread selections as well as everyday flavors including honey whole wheat, walnut raisin, and french peasant bread that longs to eat cake. A slice of signature chocolate arrives swathed in either cream cheese or mocha frosting, and scones or biscotti compliment steaming cups of Harney & Sons tea ($1.89) or Stumptown coffee ($1.50–$2.12).