Fine Dining, Fine Dunking

The blogosphere is filled with Westport dining news.

CTBites — the go-to site for Fairfield County foodies — recently profiled Fortina.

Sure, it’s in Armonk, New York. But area diners will go anywhere for “Italian food, cooked simply, in wood fired ovens” that is elevated “with a thoughtful culinary execution and a familiar, if familial, disarming vibe.”

What makes this just-over-the-border place “06880″ worthy — besides its “rustic hipster vibe” — are its owners. Two of the 3 — Rob Krauss and John Nealon — are Staples grads.

They met at a place not normally associated with fine dining: the Wrecker football field. They’ve been good friends ever since.

John Nealon, Christian Petroni and Rob Krauss are the masterminds behind Fortina. (Photo/CTBites)

John Nealon, Christian Petroni and Rob Krauss are the masterminds behind Fortina. (Photo/CTBites)

CTBites says that Rob, John and non-Stapleite Christian Petroni seems “more like a brotherhood” than a partnership. And “this feeling translates across the restaurant’s service team and into its dining room.” All 3 formerly worked at Barcelona (whose co-founder is Staples graduate Sasha Mahr-Batuz).

Krauss says, “There is a complexity to the simplicity.” CTBites believes that applies to the restaurant’s team, as well as the menu. They are “an extended family of sorts that works equally hard at the food as they do cultivating the culture at Fortina.”

Meanwhile, over on Sunday Diners — the blog about Fairfield County’s best breakfast spots, written by 5th grader Alex D’Adamo — the buzz was all about Cocoa Michelle.

Alex says the newest addition to Saugatuck Center makes you feel “like you’re in your own home. Everyone is really friendly, and it was filled with customers including a lot of kids. (She also had Wiki-Stix which kids love.)” He calls the food “exceptional!”

Alex D'Adamo and Cocoa Michelle's hot chocolate. (Photo/Sunday Diners)

Alex D’Adamo and Cocoa Michelle’s hot chocolate. (Photo/Sunday Diners)

Alex got “the kick” he was looking for from the pulled pork sweet potato hash. But he saves his biggest rave for the hot chocolate. And — either because he is an important blogger, or because she is just a really nice woman — owner Michelle Weber gave him “some of their really thick chocolate, the kind you usually dunk churros in.”

Alex’s father had a 3-egg omelet, with crushed rosemary-marble potatoes, buttered brioche with goat cheese, and fines herbes. “He loved it,” Alex reports. 

On his 5-star scale, Alex gives Cocoa Michelle 5′s for every category: food, service, looks and “bathroom.”

CTBites did not grade Fortina. But we are sure its bathroom is as cool as its food, too.

One response to “Fine Dining, Fine Dunking

  1. Thank you Mr. Woog for your post about us. We loved Ms. Weber and the CM Market. Happy Thankksgiving, Alex and his Dad