Having already earned back-to-back spots on Connecticut Magazine's Best of Connecticut in 2009 and 2010, Liquid Lunch keeps bellies full and spoons out of the unemployment line with a slurp-worthy twist on midday meals. Culinary Institute of America graduate and owner Fred Bialek and his wife, Michele, were inspired to open the first Liquid Lunch in 2004, when they'd grown tired of lunchtime standards such as pizza, burgers, and lightly salted printouts of old PowerPoint presentations.
Today, at Liquid Lunch's still-growing roster of locations, a rotating lineup of gourmet soups cascades across the menu alongside six staple soups, including vegetarian lentil and split pea with ham. For an extra crunch, diners can plunge fork-first into salads, or explore healthy Sammiches, which escort taste buds around the globe with names influenced by their ingredients and spear-pickles engraved with necessary passport information.
Inhabiting a pale yellow Victorian building, Rainbow Gardens invites patrons to dine in quaint yet funky surroundings, either inside among sponge-painted orange walls or outside on a covered porch. The menu of American fare is littered with punning names, such as the Untoucha BLT sandwich or the Beauty and the Beef grilled tenderloin fillet. The cocktail lounge offers views of the Milford Green through stained-glass and picture windows, as well as mixed drinks such as the pineapple- and cranberry-infused Rainbow Flirtini.
Juicy tidbits of chocolate-dunked fruit arrive on the doorsteps of family and friends, done up in colorful bouquets and candy boxes by the skilled fruit arrangers at Edible Arrangements' more than 1,100 franchises worldwide. The company's in-house chocolatiers drizzle albion strawberries and daisy pineapples in a trio of chocolate flavors. Once properly chocolated, the workers organize the preservative-free sweets into lush arrangements that resemble flowers in bloom. Customers can choose to plop their bouquets in a variety of vessels, including vases, mugs, and sports- or holiday-themed containers that add a personal touch to the edible gifts. Alternatively, customers can opt to adorn gifts with the cheery, red lids of candy boxes, nestling 12 chocolate-dipped morsels inside to build anticipation and determine if loved ones have x-ray vision as they guess whether fruit will come dusted in shredded coconut or drizzled in white chocolate.
The savory pie slingers at Bella Napoli serve a hearty menu stuffed with circular comestibles, such as calzones, garlic knots, meatballs, and a wide selection of specialty pizzas. Pies start with a solid foundation of fresh-baked dough, available in regular, gluten-free, or whole-wheat varieties, expertly tossed and twirled on the premises with the care of a Faberge-egg juggler. Next, a layer of red or white sauce nestles an array of more than 25 delectable and electable toppings, including such offbeat choices as hot wings, eggplant, and hot cherry peppers ($1.60–$4.25 each). Hearty calzones come stuffed with cheeses, meats, and veggies ($4.26–$12.73), and sides include classic coleslaw ($1.75), fried ravioli ($5.25 for small), and garlic bites–a dietary staple used to drive New England’s most fearsome vampires back to their Harvard classrooms ($4.50 for small).
Led by their mom, Cassandra, brothers Mergim, Burim, Durim, and Agim turned a cache of generations-old family recipes into 4 Brothers Pizza & Mediterranean Restaurant. With these unique culinary formulas, the tight-knit clan infuses classic Mediterranean and Peloponnesian flavors into their sprawling lineup of Italian and Greek dishes, which includes flaky spanakopita, linguine with clam sauce, and creamy penne with chicken and broccoli. Each of the brothers also boasts a favorite pizza that bears their name, agreeing that whoever’s pie is the most popular gets to claim the remote control forever times infinity.
The chefs at Ten Asian Bistro create pan-Asian specialties using quality ingredients and a flair for presentation. They wok-fry red snapper until crispy, setting it on a nest of crunchy noodles. The fire wok dish, meanwhile, includes shrimp, lobster tail, sea scallops, lemongrass, kaffir lime-leaf, and Thai coconut curry served in the wok it was cooked in.
There are also a number of specialty sushi rolls on the menu. In addition to containing treats like eel and tobiko, rolls may hold sweeter surprises such as mango or fresh strawberries. Sweetest of all is the Sweetie Roll, a heart-shaped sushi roll wrapped in bright red tuna.