As the heir apparent to three generations of cooks, Rose Foote’s decision to follow in their footsteps was no surprise. Her journey started when she worked at her parent’s restaurant at the age of 9, and it continued in 1995 with her catering service, and, eventually, a culinary tour throughout Tuscany. All of these influences can be found in her inventive breakfast, lunch, and brunch menus at Bella’s Café—Rose describes the resulting theme as “European roots with contemporary flair.” An illustrative example is the eggplant ciabatta, a unity of grilled eggplant, fire-roasted red peppers, gooey melted mozzarella, and spicy arrabbiatta sauce.
The food isn’t the only aspect of Bella’s Café that blends a classic European aesthetic with contemporary influences—the décor adheres to that theme. Burnt yellow hues give the walls a rustic look, and framed prints and paintings remind guests that they don’t have to sculpt their French toast into a bust of Napoleon playing with his food to see beautiful art.
Christian and Antonio Setaro?s parents immigrated to the United States from Salerno, Italy, in the 1970s and opened Antonio?s Twin Oaks, an Italian eatery known for its homestyle cooking. Growing up around the kitchen, the brothers developed a liking for cooking that ultimately led to the opening of their own Italian eatery, The Original Antonio?s in Woodbridge. Later, they added locations in Beacon Falls and Ansonia.
At each restaurant, pasta headlines the menu. Shreds of romano cheese dust orders of homemade cheese ravioli, pappardelle with duck ragu, and rigatoni with plum tomatoes and italian sausage. Cheese also bubbles atop specialty pizzas and accentuates entrees built around shrimp, salmon, chicken, veal, or pork chops. The drink menu lists a bevy of dessert drinks, beer, martinis, and wine, nine of which are available by glass or cupped hands.
Golden 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.
The large wheeled coffee cart at Lena's Cafe and Confections never actually goes anywhere, but it does make for a rustic centerpiece in the dining room, where visitors gather for homemade breakfast, brunch, and lunch. Each weekend, a lineup of brunch specials rotates, featuring items such as pecan-pie-stuffed french toast one week and a seafood omelet stuffed with lobster, crab, shrimp, and fresh veggies another. On weekdays, lunch does bring some specialty salads and veggie wraps, but for the most part, it's no less hearty?corned-beef reubens, meatball panini sliders, and half-pound burgers ensure an equal-opportunity work environment for takeout boxes.
Black Bear Saloon roars back at growling stomachs with pub-style American eats dished out amid the cheers and jeers of an energized sports bar. Perched along the walls, flat-screen TVs broadcast big games as diners voyage through waves of russian dressing that flow between the Kodiak sandwich's layers of turkey breast, bacon, and swiss cheese. Late-night menus keep guests content past midnight, and entertainment events, such as live shows by DJs and local bands, accompany bites while snuffing out the other senses' plans to go on strike. Staying true to its outdoorsy influences, Black Bear also offers the Cub Campfire dessert—a chance for diners to make s'mores right at their table.