Since 1983, the family-owned Duffy's Tavern has served a tasty assortment of Irish fare, comfort cuisine, fresh seafood, and juicy steaks, helping prepare bellies for a bevy of pints soon to follow. Duffy's dinner menu starts with favorite Irish entrees such as bacon-topped calf's liver ($14.99) and thinly sliced pot roast ($13.99), in addition to twin 8 oz. pork chops served with Cajun spices ($15.99). Diners can stop by at noontime for lunch, including sandwiches such as the lobster grilled cheese with scallions ($14.99). To drink, Duffy's offers Irish standards such as Guinness and Smithwick's on tap, as well as a seasonal rotation of palate-pleasing martinis and cocktails. Duffy's interior is furnished with oak antiques, giving off a warm vibe that is part speakeasy, part authentic Irish pub, but without the pesky infusion of James Joyce practicing his sitar from beyond the grave. Slide into a cozy booth, or settle into the wicker furniture on the outdoor patio, which boasts custom Celtic iron railings, a blue stone stamped patio, and a see-through gas fireplace.
Juicy tidbits of chocolate-dunked fruit arrive on the doorsteps of family and friends, done up in colorful bouquets and candy boxes by the skilled fruit arrangers at Edible Arrangements' more than 1,100 franchises worldwide. The company's in-house chocolatiers drizzle albion strawberries and daisy pineapples in a trio of chocolate flavors. Once properly chocolated, the workers organize the preservative-free sweets into lush arrangements that resemble flowers in bloom. Customers can choose to plop their bouquets in a variety of vessels, including vases, mugs, and sports- or holiday-themed containers that add a personal touch to the edible gifts. Alternatively, customers can opt to adorn gifts with the cheery, red lids of candy boxes, nestling 12 chocolate-dipped morsels inside to build anticipation and determine if loved ones have x-ray vision as they guess whether fruit will come dusted in shredded coconut or drizzled in white chocolate.
Fresco's chefs strive to recreate the flavors of Mexico City using fresh ingredients. Diners can bite into fajitas, pork chops with an orange chili sauce, or opt for an entrée such as chicken marinated in coconut rum and baked inside a coconut shell. Rich, red mole sauce simmers with gulf shrimp, and roasted peppers and onions compliment chorizo sausage that's made on-site. House-made drinks made with fresh ingredients are poured at the bar, mixing margaritas from a tequila bar with over 50 different tequilas to choose from.
Chops Steak & Fish Grill—formerly Chuck's Steakhouse—dishes out fresh catches and premium cuts and chops in a gold-accented dining room. Plates of crisp vegetables from the salad bar temper robust strip steaks, top sirloin, filet mignon, and Delmonico steaks. Risotto, gnocchi, and other pastas embrace vegetables or morsels of lobster and scallops, and chefs' specials treat tablescapes to daily surprises dished out beneath gold picture frames and soft lighting. Chops also hosts special events in the banquet room with aged wood-paneled walls and enough hardwood tables to seat 120 people, exactly the number of people in a standard bridal party.
Strada's chefs imbue contemporary American fare with Mediterranean influences and inventive takes on classic cuisine. Groups can pore over the menu before they share memories of the first clam they ever wrestled over the eatery's signature seafood-ceviche appetizer, an amalgam of citrus-marinated white fish, shrimp, and calamari. A flurry of almonds settles upon pumpkin ravioli and sage swimming in a brown butter sauce, and the 8-ounce cedar-plank salmon fillet marinates in orange juice, tarragon, and ginger before settling atop its eponymous slice of wood. Unlike a snowman on vacation, panko-crusted chicken camps out in the oven, accompanied by house-made tomato sauce and buffalo mozzarella. After polishing off the chef's favorite vanilla flan with caramel sauce, diners can imbibe one of more than 50 martinis or peruse Strada's extensive wine list for a diverse smorgasbord of varietals. Metallic silver wall hangings coast along the eatery's exposed-brick wall, which lies across from a high-backed large booth as pristinely white as a spooked picket fence.
Owner and Sao Paulo native Felipe Franco embraces the culinary traditions of his home country, telling the New Haven Independent in 2012 that "my interest is to show Americans Brazilian food and culture." His menu brims with the country's signature cuisine, including Brazil's peppery national stew of black beans and meat, as well as moqueca—a seafood stew of fish, shrimp, mussels, calamari, or kraken-gone-astray that simmers inside a handmade clay pot. To accompany these entrees, the bartenders deftly mix potent yet refreshing caipirinhas using cachaça, or sugar-cane rum, Brazil's favored spirit.