The consortium of professional instructors at Fred Astaire Dance Studios, which was cofounded by the legendary toe tapper himself, shepherds students of all ages and skill levels through lessons that span the style spectrum. Low-pressure private sessions allow enthusiastic teachers to fine-tune individual students' techniques and form, using their expert eyes and mechanical dancing shoes preprogrammed to do the Charleston. Patrons can learn how to cavort through classic waltz and fox-trot romps or swivel through the modern steps of salsa, swing, or samba. For dancers hoping to hoof it up in a social setting, the group practice parties provide a one-night extravaganza of instruction, demonstrations, and amateur firewalking.
Inspired by the "North of Little Italy" neighborhood of Manhattan?which is lined with quaint and authentic family-owned restaurants?Nolita Ristorante serves up classic Italian cuisine alongside an extensive craft beer selection at a contemporary bar, featuring 24 taps and a myriad of specialty cocktails. The impressive menu lists off a plethora of dishes, each composed with a nod toward sustainability, such as fresh produce and meats that are locally sourced whenever possible. Tender shrimp ravioli are tossed in a saffron cream sauce, while a bone-in pork chop is plated alongside a crispy polenta cake and sweet grilled peaches.
The mood is lively and laid-back within Cuv?e's sleek dining rooms, where guests lounge on cushy red armchairs at intimate candlelit tables. They raise thin flutes of champagne and glasses of specialty martinis over small plates of citrusy seafood ceviche, plump Italian meatballs, and fresh sushi rolls. Others linger over last bites of strawberry cheesecake, a dessert that reporters from NECN lauded as ?simple, light and creamy.?
Casona combines Latin cuisine with nights of dancing within its mood-lit space. The menu offers dishes from five different Latin American and Caribbean countries, all complemented by a drink list with mojitos, margaritas, and martinis. Different events occur every night the restaurant is open, often including salsa and Zumba lessons, open mics, and live Latin jazz.
At City Steam Brewery Cafe, the owners concoct some of the area’s finest beers, scoring “best of” awards from Hartford magazine and Connecticut Magazine. They also brew potent batches of laughter inside their 200-seat comedy show-room theater. Ensconced in the historic Brown Thomson and Co. building, which was the state’s largest department store in 1877, Brew Ha Ha once was known as the Last Laugh Comedy Club, where fledgling unknowns such as Ray Romano and Kevin James vied for laughs in the smoky rathskeller of a restaurant.
Reborn in 1997 under a new moniker, the standup speakeasy keeps its calendar packed with nationally touring comics and local joke slingers. During shows, guests can toast with mugs of handcrafted beer and make edible sculptures of their favorite comedian using menu’s custom burgers, pizzas, and omelets.
Thirty high-definition TVs airing sports games make Black Bear Saloon a destination for fans, who fuel up for fist pumps with a menu of American pub favorites. Beef, chicken, and salmon sliders, paired with crispy onion rings, are a pintsize alternative to burgers topped with a selection of gourmet ingredients such as roasted red peppers or avocado. Homemade marinara crowns flatbread pizzas and also serves as a sauce in which to slam-dunk deep-fried nuggets of mac 'n' cheese.
Hosted events are still another reason to visit: on Tuesday nights, the voices of karaoke singers wash over the bar's exposed-brick walls, and Wednesday trivia challenges guests to unearth factoids from their cerebral nooks and crannies. On the weekends, live DJs spin records as guests tap toes and shout requests for favorite Raffi songs from the pub's deep-brown booths.