As carrot cake rises in the oven, its sweet scent wafts from the kitchen to mingle with Louis Armstrong’s timeless trumpet trickling from the dining room's speakers, enveloping Mike's Tortoise & Hare Cafe & Catering in a homelike feel. The eatery's namesake Mike Clawson—a Connecticut transplant from North Carolina—strolls past the dining room’s fireplace on nights like this, greeting his crews of regulars and stopping off to introduce himself to new faces. Mike opened his restaurant in November 2010 to bring the slow-cooked tastes of his beloved home state to locals. The only thing that makes him happier than whipping up soul-warming plates of southern comfort food is the personal connections he makes with patrons who come in each day to tuck into hearty plates of his catfish, collard greens, and other family recipes. His passion for food began early in the kitchens of his grandmothers, whose recipes grace all 12 of the café's mouthwatering desserts, from rich banana pudding to a decadent chocolate layer cake. Since the café is BYOB, Mike encourages patrons to bring along a favorite brew or chocolate fountain to accompany their meals, and invites all to attend his increasingly popular wine dinners starring quaffs of locally made wines.
Dedicated to bringing the culinary traditions of Peru to Hartford’s diners, Piolin Restaurant II has been serving the signature sizzling meats and sautéed veggies of the region since 1998. Within the bustling kitchen, chefs architect dishes such as Peruvian yellow potatoes, sweet plantains, and fried yucca in addition to hearty meats ranging from grilled chicken to fried red snapper. Along with the re-creation of time-honored recipes, the brightly hued walls and cheery decor of Piolin’s dining room grant guests the feeling that they’ve escaped to Peru without the hassles of answering a TSA officer’s riddles.
Specializing in American Continental and Italian cuisine, chef Oscar Monterroso immerses taste buds into gourmet meals packed with emerging trends and flavors. With nearly a decade of restaurant experience tucked into his apron, Chef Oscar has doled out dishes across the United States. Today, having planted his fork-emblem flag on the East Coast, he showcases his talents by travelling to clients' homes and preparing three- to five-course gourmet meals. Chef Oscar also leads interactive dinner parties, enabling groups of students to chop, dice, and whisk their way to becoming better cooks.
Located on the Farmingbury Hills Golf Course, East Street Eatery plates Italian American staples fresh off the grill. Wings drenched in one of 10 hot or sweet sauces serve as tangy prelude to angus burgers, steaks, and sandwiches stuffed with buffalo chicken. The kitchen's savory eats also fit atop catering platters, as do hors d'oeuvres and Italian-American-style pastas and chicken dishes.
With the exact same management, cooking staff, and emblematic painting since its founding in 1989, Mona Lisa Restaurant has had nearly three decades to perfect its Italian and Mediterranean cuisine. It was three decades well spent. Today, the eatery serves veal piccata, new york strip steaks, and a rack of lamb brushed with dijon mustard. They also serve rich pasta dishes such as penne ala vodka with prosciutto and light cream, the angel hair and shrimp adriatico with sweet peppers and a white wine sauce, and the Southern Italian sampler, made up of manicotti, ravioli, eggplant, meatballs, and sausage. The fine food is matched by an equally excellent drink selection, which includes dry, sweet, and fruity martinis, vintage ports and cognacs, and a top-tier scotch selection that includes Bordeaux-finished Bowmore and an 18-year Glenlivet.