If you had passed by in 1978, you probably would have missed Vito's Pizzeria. The storefront was completely invisible from the street, an unfortunate reality that might have been the death knell for a lesser business. But the 600-square-foot, strictly-take-out pizzeria managed to survive and even thrive based solely on word of mouth.
It's been more than 30 years, and people are still talking. Thankfully, the pizzeria has expanded quite a bit in terms of space and menu. Today, Vito's chefs craft everything from deep-dish pies to Italian grinders, which, as their name suggests, taste just as good when ground up and served with a straw.
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.
The young crew behind ONEHOPE Wine believes wine can do more than dance with flavor and stain frocks fashioned from fine white camel hair. Each bottle has been instilled with a rich taste and beauty to complement its selflessness. One ONEHOPE box yields one bottle each of California merlot, cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay, zinfandel, sauvignon blanc, and an exclusive summer white (an $18.99 value per bottle). The 2008 merlot uses grapes grown in the Lodi and Paso Robles regions, where a cool Pacific fog maintains grape acidity, creating a full flavor that complements its black cherries, plums, and figs.
A fountain's mists drift over a cool, quiet water outside the windows of Vito's By the Water, where chefs have been cooking up traditional Italian food for many years. Following recipes that have been in the owner's family for years, they craft traditional entrees such as New York strip steak with demi-glace or lobster ravioli with vodka-cream sauce. They also adorn thin and Chicago-style deep-dish stuffed crusts with quality toppings such as baby clams, breaded eggplant, and seasoned ricotta.
Vito?s chef-owner, Rob Maffucci, has also earned culinary fame with an October 2014 appearance on Food Network's, "Beat Bobby Flay". Here, he grappled with the ingredients of pumpkin puree and fresh pasta during a Halloween special that showcased the chef's talents, pitting them against culinary powerhouse, Bobby Flay.
Ranked 73rd best brewer in the world by RateBeer and 15th out of the top 50 American Microbreweries by BeerAdvocate, Thomas Hooker Brewery has earned its share of accolades. The brewery’s staff has been forging consistent, small-batch brews for more than a decade. Today, they produce 11 one-of-a-kind beers, with year-round flavors such as the Hop Meadow IPA, or the Irish Red Ale. Their seasonal flavors, meanwhile, include the Chocolate Truffle Stout and the Watermelon Ale, whose fruity notes make it ideal for summer drinking or as the proper liquid with which to hydrate a fruit garden. The team leads a tour and tasting on Saturday afternoons, and their gift shop is fully stocked with paraphernalia and growlers of their popular brews.
Co-founders Alana La Fleur and Vanessa Jennings put the mission of VAz Media right in the name: V stands for "Vanessa," A for "Alana," and Z represents "everything for women, from A to Z." The duo established their event-planning company to give women a place to relax and socialize in a supportive environment, free of stress or the incessant pandering for their votes from mayoral candidates. La Fleur and Jennings also partner each event with a charity, raising funds for organizations such as the Connecticut chapter of the National MS Society and CT Women’s Education and Legal Fund.