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 has also sponsored a “So You Think You Can Cook” competition, handing the kitchen over to nine aspiring chefs for a three-day cook-off. Like many timed cooking competitions, this one required the chefs to create a dish using a mystery ingredient, such as bacon or love. The winner received a farm-to-table dinner for 10.
The chefs at Gio's Restaurant & Lounge cater to virtually every taste with a menu of eclectic international and American cuisine. They craft hearty pizzas with freshly kneaded dough, whole-milk mozzarella, and signature red or white sauces, as well as 24 toppings such as ricotta cheese, bacon, and hot peppers. The cooks spend the rest of the mealtime hand-battering buffalo wings, shaving off slices of gyro meat, and grilling half-pound burger patties over one of the kitchen's many Bunsen burners. Neutral-toned walls and plenty of open space help to create a welcoming ambience in the dining room, while the lounge area's red sofas, flat-screen televisions, and pool table encourage diners to stay for a bit after eating.
Though the world has changed in the decades since the Inghilterra family immigrated to the United States, the clan's Old-World recipes and traditional values have not. Named for the newest crop of Inghilterra kids, Bella and Anthony, the eatery invites patrons to spool fresh pasta or build topographical maps of Italy in a hand-tossed pizza pie baked "like Momma used to make."
The restaurant culls fresh italian sausage and bread from neighboring local businesses, then uses the treats to insulate hot grinder subs and hearty calzones. The Inghilterra crew also encourages lingering four nights a week by hosting live music and using extra-sticky cheese.
Lucky Lou's Bar and Grill's menu is brimming with savory sandwiches, bodacious burgers, and seafaring delights. Customers can confuse their taste buds with the chili burger nachos topped with jack cheese, ketchup, sliced pickles, jalapeños, chopped lettuce, and tomatoes ($8), or muddy their tongue with dirty wings in a choice of flavors ($9–$19). Heartier appetites can dive fork-first into the lobster mac ‘n’ cheese, a bowl of fresh Maine lobster meat and penne rigate swimming in a four-cheese creamed sauce ($24), or let the wind blow through their fork tines with an order of meatloaf bolognese on the outdoor patio ($17). The tre carne flatbread pie, a protein-laden mix of garlic sausage, bacon, pepperoni, fresh mozzarella, asiago cheese, and roasted tomato plum sauce, can sate meat-loving midsections ($11), while the tuscan veggie wrap, with eggplant, portobello mushrooms, garden greens, mozzarella, and basil and parsley pesto, can satisfy flora-favoring fauns ($10). Pair amiable eats with a glass of wine ($7–$9), sangria ($8), or beer ($4–$5) from the extensive drink menu.
Voted Best Fish Market by readers of the Hartford Advocate, City Fish Market offers a menu of freshly prepared seafood meals. Lobster lovers can dig their claws into the hot lobster roll, pincered together with fries or a small chowder ($15.99). Ex-Red Coats can sample the fried fish and chips ($9.99) while pondering the best place to get their useless uniform tailored into a fashionable suit. Clammy hands find an accepting home around a bowl of fresh New England chowder ($3.50 half pint, $5.99 pint, $9.99 quart). Children can also wet their seafood appetites with kids' menu offerings such as clam strips and fries ($3.99).