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.
The penne, spaghetti, and linguine at Pastori's Restaurant & Bar may be the only pastas that are actually imported from Italy, but every bite of manicotti and alfredo tastes authentic. Yet the Italian specialities only claim a small portion of the menu. There are also burgers and grinders, wraps and pitas, and seafood dishes, such as sea scallops tuna steak. Plus, the bar promises cocktails, beer, and wine, as well as games broadcast on TVs and regular karaoke.
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.
Featured by Paul Stern on Mansfield-StorrsPatch in 2011—just months after its opening—Coriander Cafe & Country Store has hatched quite the name for itself in Eastwood. According to Stern, brothers Scott and Brett Laffert run the show with Brett, a former chef and self-proclaimed “country person at heart,” transforming local ingredients into gourmet sandwiches, burgers, and straw hats. The shop makes all their breads—from ciabatta to whole wheat—in-house before stacking them with fresh-carved turkey and cranberry sauce or homemade black-bean patties. Yet the cooks don’t stop at handheld fare; the menu changes daily and can include anything from pan-seared haddock over corn-and-chive griddlecakes to braised pork belly with a side of chipotle grits.
Coriander Cafe also welcomes early risers into its country confines for a cup of fair-trade and organic coffee from Red Barn Coffee Roasters, a homemade bagel, or a decadent pastry such as a raspberry scone or cinnamon-sugar donut muffin, which guests can enjoy inside or amid fresh-picked oxygen molecules on the backyard deck. A fully stocked country store outfits fleeting customers with all the necessities, from homemade cookies and Red Barn coffee to gourmet jams and hot sauces.
From their outpost near the academic halls of the University of Connecticut, the chefs at Sgt. Pepperoni spin hand-tossed pizzas in the style of New York’s great pizzerias. Friends split a 16-inch cheese pizza, baked on handmade dough and blanketed with mozzarella cheese and house-made sauce. Divvy up eight breadsticks splashed with savory sauce from a cup of marinara sauce, or use them as swords to duel for the last slice of pizza. Sgt. Pepperoni’s sentries stay on watch for rumbling stomachs until at least 2 a.m. every night, quenching appetites brought on by late-night study sessions or hunger strikes in protest of Daylight Savings Time.