Alexandra and Romeo fell in love in France over cups of flour and sugar as Romeo completed his professional boulanger and patissier training. Today, the couple recreates quintessential French flavors in their West Hartford bakery-café, where the menu kicks off with breakfasts of pain au chocolat and almond croissants. For lunch, chefs build sandwiches such as Le Brie with cheese and butter, and the Eiffel, whose roasted chicken breast, carrots, and cucumber stands 324 meters tall. Desserts such as macarons and chocolate-hazelnut mousse cake pair with a cappuccino or café au lait to round out each meal.
La Petite France also rolls out its portable crepe cart to special events throughout the area, where French-speaking chefs (upon request) whip up sweet or savory crepes for parties of 20 or more.
It's no wonder that Dave and Camille, the owners of Camille's Wood Fired Pizza, have adopted the mantra "food is love." Nearly a decade ago they met in a pizzeria without any idea that one day they would fall in love and open their very own restaurant. Today, their love for each other and for great food helps to warm the inviting atmosphere at Camille's, along with the kitchen's wood-fire oven, which heats up to more than 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit. The taste furnace renders crispy crusts on specialty pies, which chefs top with products from organic and sustainable farms whenever possible. Small plates such as artisanal salads and inventive ideas such as eggplant fries round out meals and bring an upscale touch to pizza night.
The Stone and Paddle’s California-style thin-crust pizzas acquire their subtle crunch while baking atop a hot stone in a 600-degree oven. Gourmet toppings such as hot sausage, shrimp and artichoke, and spinach and gorgonzola grace the pies, which share table space with flatbread sandwiches that are also stone-baked. Though chefs must return nightly to the steel-encased bunker where they safeguard their secret dough recipe, guests can enjoy a new location in Rocky Hill, linger on the shaded patio at the Vernon location or watch sports on Manchester's flat-screen TVs.
City Sports Grille is too inviting for just one bar. That's why there are two. Beneath the blue glow of more than 25 high-definition TVs, the Bristol location bustles with the friendly din of diners and drinkers. Meanwhile, the golden interior of the Vernon location bathes each patron in welcoming warmth augmented by the sounds of the day’s sports highlights. Both pubs feature a similar menu of pub-friendly grub, including chargrilled pizzas and flatbreads, half-pound burgers, and wraps that lovingly embrace hunger before utterly defeating it. Each location hosts special events on most nights, including karaoke on Thursdays and free pool on Wednesdays in Bristol and Wednesday trivia and live music on Saturdays in Vernon.
The Hidden Still is "Connecticut's first restaurant and moonshine bar," its staff says. It's a bold claim, but even fanatic mixologists would be hard-pressed to name another bar with more than 10 moonshine varietals on its shelves. Culled from across the nation, and made from genuine moon rocks' first pressings, these moonshines are savored neat, infused in-house, and poured into signature cocktails. Of course, many diners come for the food. Executive chef Sean Martin offers polished interpretations of pub classics, such as flatbread pulled-pork sandwiches and fish tacos.
“Lasci il buon rullo di periodi,” reads the inscription over the bar at Pinocchio’s Ristorante. The phrase translates to “let the good times roll,” advice addressed to wait staff and patrons alike in the gently lit and richly colored dining room. Past the long, curving bar, rust-colored walls glow around golden sconces, and the smell of fresh tomatoes and sautéing vegetables fills the air. Drawing on generations-old family recipes and experience accrued during 25 years in the business, chefs at Pinocchio’s Ristorante craft a menu of pastas, risottos, and veal. In the kitchen, they slice paper-thin cuts of prosciutto, stir pots of truffle and cognac-reduction sauce, roast garlic, and whittle spaghetti down into angel hair. The din of pots and pans drifts behind the bar, where a cadre of mixologists whip up margaritas and martinis, ranging from the raspberry margarita to martinis made with van Gogh espresso vodka.