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.
Stockbridge's Gourmet Cheesecakes & Café's more than 45 varieties of cheesecake have won Connecticut Magazine's Best Cheesecake in Connecticut award for nine consecutive years and been featured in The New York Times. But even though its vast number of cheesecake and its selection of scones, cookies, and pastries would suggest otherwise, Stockbridge's is not just a bakery. The eatery also offers dishes to sate appetites for every meal, such as omelets, sandwiches, salads, and burgers. And unlike traditional bakeries and DMVs, Stockbridge's has a BYOB policy.
Lanza Restaurant's chefs plate a menu of authentic, upscale Italian dishes as guests drink in live entertainment. Taking inspiration from matryoshka dolls, diners can fill bellies with stuffed selections such as the ricotta-stuffed ravioli ($11.95) and the eggplant rollatini, in which a trio of ricotta, provolone, and prosciutto crowd into a golden eggplant topped with mozzarella and marinara ($13.95). In the veal piccata, a sautéed veal cutlet bathes in herbs, capers, and a luxurious lemon-butter sauce ($17.95), and the swordfish oreganto pairs a sautéed swordfish steak drizzled in roasted-garlic butter sauce with potatoes—Italy's most famous carbohydrate ($18.95). As diners captivate taste buds with savory sauces and pastas, live music and comedy acts thrill eardrums on Lanza’s stage, and a dance area lets couples practice for upcoming line-dancing marathons.
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.
Lauded in the New York Times for its "clean and delicate" flavors, Peking Duck House's menu earned the restaurant a coveted spot on the list of the 100 best Chinese restaurants in the country. The kitchen's Cantonese-style dishes come courtesy of Chef and owner Harry Wu, who––according to Times reporter Stephanie Lyness––often appears tableside to serve his signature Peking-duck dish. The namesake feast––available as a whole or half duck––arrives in two distinct courses, opening with crispy, grilled slices of duck, waiting to be snuggly wrapped up in homemade crepes, sprinkled with scallions, and drizzled with a special sauce. Then, colorful slivers of seasonal veggies are sautéed with more tender morsels of meat, and paired with a side of rice, which may be eaten or thrown at nearby newlyweds.
Other Cantonese favorites include classics such as kung-pao chicken and pan-fried dumplings as well as house specialties such as clams in a spicy black-bean sauce. Spicier dishes are noted with a tiny chile-pepper icon to warm sensitive taste buds or hungry snowmen, while five steamed entrees are prepared sans salt, oil, or cornstarch to cater to the calorie-conscious.
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.