Restaurateurs Linda and Everett Reid orchestrate a multitude of seasonal dishes menu into a flavor symphony at the French-influenced L & E, garnering a feature in the New York Times. Appetizers such as Cape Cod Bay oysters ($3.25 each) welcome diners to tables covered with the original work of local artists, while seasonal entrees have included delicacies such as pork osso bucco with pink lady applesauce and celery root hash ($22) and pan-seared Atlantic fluke with fingerling potatoes and oyster and lobster mushrooms ($24). Delve into the extensive wine list to pair any entree with a glass of vino such as 2008 Le Vissoux Beaujolais ($7.75) or Domaine Talmard chardonnay ($8.50).
The aroma of freshly baked bread often wafts from the kitchen of La Vita Gustosa, greeting guests who step through the restaurant's window-paneled doors. That scent mingles with others as chef James Wilder sautés plump, opened clams in olive oil, crushed red pepper, and white wine, braises bone-in pork shank for tender osso bucco, and drizzles balsamic glaze over hand-cut new york strip steaks. Rich sauces cling to strands of linguini and orecchiette "ears," and fresh produce from local farms tops New Haven–style thin-crust pizzas.
After enjoying a meal at the eatery, whose polished wood bar complements sunny yellow walls, one Hartford Courant writer described La Vita Gustosa's ambiance as "classy, romantic, casual, warm and inviting." In warm weather, diners can relax on an outdoor patio with a clear view of Connecticut River and Goodspeed Opera Theater. Live bands, dance parties, and spontaneous reenactments of Broadway musicals keep the fun going long after dinner has ended.
Recently celebrating its temporary re-opening following major damage from Hurricanes Irene and Sandy, Dock & Dine welcomes back dedicated diners to its waterfront dining room and deck on the Connecticut River. An Old Saybrook landmark since the 1940s, the iconic destination grew from a humble clam shack to a local favorite with its classic crab cakes, giant sea scallops, and engaging siren waitresses. The dining room features clean, sea-side decor and expansive windows offering views of Saybrook Point and the Long Island Sound, while the large outdoor deck is perched directly over the water. The restaurant also hosts live entertainment Thursday–Saturday evenings. This summer marks Dock & Dine's last at its current elevation, with plans to be demolished and rebuilt 15 feet above sea level.
Inside of Red Hen, an Old Saybrook bistro that opened in late 2012, plates of Mediterranean-inspired fare share table space with American classics. Chefs thoughtfully choose the ingredients for these dishes, taking care to procure free-range chicken and sourcing seafood from nearby Little Narragansett Bay.
Besides comforting, yet upscale entrees, the bistro also features a tapas menu that traffics in small plates. These shareable morsels can pair with 30 wines by the glass or quartino, and sips of craft beer and cocktails.
At Curds & Whey, gourmet gurus who specialize in hard-to-find European cheeses lead guests through artisanal and imported treats, dishing out samples in the ivory-hued tasting room. Aged manchego ($24/lb.) and vintage gouda ($17.50) complete wine-pairing parties or dairy sculptures of King George, and splashes of olive oil infused with sun-dried tomato, parmesan, and garlic ($18) accent favorite Italian dishes. For a tangy taste, vinegars such as the traditional 18-year-old balsamic ($18) pour over salads. An assortment of crackers ($5.95–$8.95) and fresh breads ($4–$6.50) delivered daily wait eagerly to host sumptuous toppings, and holiday shoppers can purchase wooden boxes stuffed with an assortment of cheeses for their best friends or favorite mirror reflections.
Greenport, named one of America's Prettiest Towns by Forbes, lures city dwellers with the fermented grape's siren song. More than a dozen wineries surround this former whaling village, many of which offer tastings and vineyard tours. Harvest season, marked by a spate of wine festivals, runs from late September through October, but drinking season runs 365 days per year.North Fork's town beaches offer a sandy sanctuary for swimmers and sunbathers, and the area's golf courses deliver scenic island views. Greenport's dining options include everything from seafood to Texas barbecue and locally brewed craft beer.