Each Wood-N-Tap restaurant’s kitchen serves a menu of casual American food that ranges from burgers and sandwiches to pasta, pizza, and entrees. The eatery partners with farms from New Jersey to Maine to cultivate 100% all-natural meats for their homegrown burgers, which feature tender hormone-, steroid-, and antibiotic-free meats such as Wagyu beef, bison, free-range turkey, and pork. Chefs grill entrees including swordfish and bourbon-marinated grilled sirloin, as well as signature items such as mac ‘n’ cheese pizza and Bar Bites sliders constructed with bison, Angus beef, turkey, or a baseball.
Wood-N-Tap blossomed from the fitting combination of its owners’ skills—Mike scouts the locations, Phil markets the brand, and Wil and Kenny manage the daily operations of the various locations. More than a decade ago, after forging a friendship as strong as oak and a partnership as strong as steel-reinforced oak, the crew opened the first Wood-N-Tap location in 2002—and they have expanded to seven locations and counting.
Chops Steak & Fish Grill—formerly Chuck's Steakhouse—dishes out fresh catches and premium cuts and chops in a gold-accented dining room. Plates of crisp vegetables from the salad bar temper robust strip steaks, top sirloin, filet mignon, and Delmonico steaks. Risotto, gnocchi, and other pastas embrace vegetables or morsels of lobster and scallops, and chefs' specials treat tablescapes to daily surprises dished out beneath gold picture frames and soft lighting. Chops also hosts special events in the banquet room with aged wood-paneled walls and enough hardwood tables to seat 120 people, exactly the number of people in a standard bridal party.
Fresco's chefs strive to recreate the flavors of Mexico City using fresh ingredients. Diners can bite into fajitas, pork chops with an orange chili sauce, or opt for an entrée such as chicken marinated in coconut rum and baked inside a coconut shell. Rich, red mole sauce simmers with gulf shrimp, and roasted peppers and onions compliment chorizo sausage that's made on-site. House-made drinks made with fresh ingredients are poured at the bar, mixing margaritas from a tequila bar with over 50 different tequilas to choose from.
At iD Brazil Churrascaria & Restaurant, servers arrive at tables with giant skewers bearing perfectly grilled, aromatic meats. It’s called rodizio, a traditional style of serving cuisine at Brazilian restaurants. In this case, you can get your fill of more than a dozen meats, including pork loin, beef ribs, and Brazilian pork sausage. The South American steakhouse also offers a vast buffet, as well as traditional drinks, such as the Caipririnha, a blend of muddled limes, cachaca, and sugar.
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.
Amici's Restaurant's chefs stir pots brimming with fresh pastas, plate golden rings of fried calamari, and grill new york strip steaks. The servers then transport the platters of Italian fare to the dining area, which is enclosed by exposed-brick walls and filled with round tables draped in crisp, white cloths and topped with bottles of olive oil for drizzling on fresh bread or silencing squeaky olive-oil bottles. Paintings of quaint cafes hang above the full bar, where a sleek stone counter reflects the restaurant's red and white exterior with a decorative wrought-iron café table and chairs for two.