Book Trader Café stacks more than 16,000 titles of gently used books on its shelves, combined with second-hand DVDs and CDs that transform the inventory into multimedia brain food. Literary works and academic books on art, architecture, and paper towels line the store, their spines inviting readers to sink into their vivid and educational worlds. A cult-fiction section assembles an apocrypha of fringe scribes, photography books tempt eyes with their luscious pages, and a children's-book section tempts kids to burrow into a fort of words. Most titles average $4.95, and staff carefully curates each one to ensure a quality recycled collection sans fraying bindings or torn pages. While Book Trader Café's inventory rotates frequently, the online store lists troves of its selections and lets bibliophiles reserve books by phone. With new old books in hand, patrons can stroll over to the café to enjoy them and further sate their appetites for letters by reading the menu.
The Russian Lady's two locations, one in Hartford and one in New Haven, straddle the line between tradition and modernity. In the midst of Victorian wall sconces, orthodox church windows, heavy wooden doors, and neoclassical gilded gratings, guests dance to live music under the glow of neon lights. At both locations, a stone sculpture of Catherine the Great watches over the entrance and checks IDs as revelers peruse an extensive menu of red wines, single-malt scotches, and dozens of variations on a Russian staple: vodka. At the New Haven outpost, small plates from an internationally inspired tapas menu are paired with 40 draft beers, including eight local Connecticut brews.
A 3,000-square-foot pub-style restaurant with a crunchy sports-bar center, Black Bear Saloon lures revelers with its happening atmosphere and anchors them in place with a classic American menu. An extensive appetizer menu primes jaw muscles for a marathon meal with starters such as deep-fried mac 'n' cheese bites with marinara sauce or calamari tricked out with buffalo sauce and crumbled bleu cheese. Whetted appetites move onto belly-filling entrees such as a full rack of ribs—slow-roasted, grilled, and slathered in barbecue sauce—or beer-battered cod with creamy tartar sauce, french fries, and coleslaw. Diners toast to the recently confirmed existence of The Santa Claus: Deluxe DVD Edition with two hefty mugs of domestic brews such as Miller Lite, Budweiser, or Black Bear Ale.
Strada's chefs imbue contemporary American fare with Mediterranean influences and inventive takes on classic cuisine. Groups can pore over the menu before they share memories of the first clam they ever wrestled over the eatery's signature seafood-ceviche appetizer, an amalgam of citrus-marinated white fish, shrimp, and calamari. A flurry of almonds settles upon pumpkin ravioli and sage swimming in a brown butter sauce, and the 8-ounce cedar-plank salmon fillet marinates in orange juice, tarragon, and ginger before settling atop its eponymous slice of wood. Unlike a snowman on vacation, panko-crusted chicken camps out in the oven, accompanied by house-made tomato sauce and buffalo mozzarella. After polishing off the chef's favorite vanilla flan with caramel sauce, diners can imbibe one of more than 50 martinis or peruse Strada's extensive wine list for a diverse smorgasbord of varietals. Metallic silver wall hangings coast along the eatery's exposed-brick wall, which lies across from a high-backed large booth as pristinely white as a spooked picket fence.
Thali Too's executive chef and owner Prasad Chirnomula slakes burning flavor cravings with a smattering of elegant vegetarian cuisine. With prices at $10 or less, budget-conscious taste buds can experience Indian spices from all regions of the familiarly tongue-shaped country.
Wall Street Pizza & Restaurant tops classic round or Sicilian-style rectangular pan pizzas with more than 25 traditional and gourmet toppings. Patrons can cobble together their own pies or defer to Wall Street's specialty recipes, which include the Verde with ricotta, broccoli, and spinach, and the Clams Casino, whose garlic, peppers, bacon, and clams can only be served on riverboats in some states. In addition to its signature Italian food, Wall Street's menu draws inspiration from around the world with carne asada quesadillas, curry-chicken wraps, and veggie burgers made from locally sourced vegetables.
Purple tablecloths bloom with vases of cut flowers as petal-like fans whir overhead. Their regal hue symbolizes one of Zaroka Bar & Restaurant's guiding principles: that guests are akin to royalty. Inside the dining room, traditional Indian meals unfold amid ornately carved picture frames, vibrant music, and colorful conversations. To explore India's nooks and crannies, chefs craft dishes from far-flung regions such as Punjab, Gujarat, and Bengal. House specialties range from spiced chicken kebabs baked in a clay oven to curried shrimp simmered in a coconut pot. The kitchen also prepares an array of vegetarian dishes, such as savory garlic naan and three types of lentil dal. An ideal dessert or palate cleanser, the rosewater lassi teems with sweet, floral hints, like a game of charades with a potpourri sachet.