Arrivederci, Rustico. Benvenuto, Bar Lupa!

Since ancient times, la lupa — a she-wolf — has been a symbol of Rome.

Which makes Bar Lupa a perfect name for Massimo Tabacco’s latest restaurant — 4,200 miles from Rome, right here in Westport.

Bar Lupa — which had a soft opening last week — replaces Rustico Trattoria. The address is 1431 Post Road East, opposite the Regents Park condos. The logo features the lupa suckling Romulus and Remus — just like in the legend.

The new Bar Lupa.

Massimo is a native of Rome. After coming to the US, he opened several restaurants: Gilda in Manhattan, Sogno in Fairfield and Casa Roma in Bridgeport.

He’s always loved Westport — “the town, the style, the vibe.” So when the chance came to do something different with Rustico — freshen the look, update the menu — he took it.

The updated interior.

Massimo — and Miguel Angelo D’Onofrio, his chef/business partner from Columbus Park Trattoria in Stamford — offer an Italian tapas menu, with all locally grown vegetables, fresh meat and fish, and specialty drinks. There’s live entertainment too.

Bar Lupa is open weekdays from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m., and Saturday from 5 to 2 a.m.

Suddenly, there’s new life in a once quiet part of town.

Fantastic food, too!

Lasagna tapas at Bar Lupa.

Give Students A Break!

As they sit down for holiday dinners on Thursday, Staples High School students have much to be thankful for. Loving families, good friends, caring teachers, a wonderful community — those things don’t change.

But this year, they’ll give thanks for something else: No homework.

Principal James D ‘Amico sent this email last week:

I want to take the opportunity to remind everyone that this upcoming Thanksgiving break is a homework-free break.

As a school community we want our school breaks to truly be a break from school to the greatest extent possible. We value school breaks as an opportunity for our students, staff, and families to rejuvenate, spend time with friends and family, and generally find the time for much-needed rest.

School breaks are also a good time for those who may have fallen behind on their work to catch up, without more new assignments piling up.

Through our Collaborative Team of representative teachers, administrators, students, and parents, we developed the following simple definition of homework-free breaks:

  • No homework should be assigned over these breaks
  • Long-term project due dates, as well as tests, may not be scheduled for the first 2 days of school following one of these breaks.​

The December, February and April breaks will also be homework-free.

Additionally, we encourage everyone to take a technology break over Thanksgiving, and disconnect our devices and engage with each other.

On behalf of everyone at Staples High School I wish you and your families a happy, healthy, and restful Thanksgiving next week.

Nicole Klein: National Election Inspires Local Race

In the aftermath of Donald Trump’s election last year, Nicole Klein felt “helpless and hopeless.”

The Westport resident could not understand how America had chosen such a man as its leader.

“I’m a very positive person,” Klein says. “But I became very negative.” She vowed to do something to change her state of mind.

The New York City native had spent 17 years at McKinsey; now she was global event manager. In April 2014 she, her husband Fred and young son Carter had moved to Westport from the city, for the schools and amenities.

Nicole and Fred Klein.

In the past, Klein had volunteered for presidential campaigns. But she had never — not in New York, or her new hometown — been involved in local politics.

Now was the time.

She quit her high-powered job. In March, Klein became deputy registrar of voters.

Working in Town Hall, she learned the ins and outs of Westport government. The Representative Town Meeting intrigued her.

“RTM had just been an acronym to me,” she says. “But I realized how important it is. It’s Westport’s legislative branch.”

When 2 members of her Greens Farms district decided not to run for re-election — and Klein realized there were no “moms,” or even any females — representing District 5, she threw her hat in the ring.

She knew nothing about campaigning. Friends offered advice: Go to the train station. Go to the transfer station. Make signs.

It was a very competitive race. In 8 of Westport’s 9 districts, 4 or 5 candidates vied for 4 seats. District 5 had 8.

“People made websites, brochures, mailings and signs,” Klein says. “There was a lot of canvassing.”

The 1st-time candidate faced hurdles. A random draw placed her name at the bottom of the ballot.

Because election season is the busiest time of year for the registrars’ staff, she could not campaign for herself on that crucial Election Day. Fortunately, an “amazing team” — including her husband and son — stepped in.

Carter Klein scrupulously obeys the electioneering law.

Oh, yeah: Just a few days before the election, the Kleins moved from their rented condo into a new home.

“There was a lot going on,” Klein says understatedly.

With over 1,900 voters to reach, she focused on the population she felt she could best impact: the school community. “I hoped people were excited about a mom running,” she says.

They were. Klein earned the 2nd highest number of votes in District 5.

It took a while before she learned the news, though. She was so busy at Town Hall, she could not immediately check the text her husband sent from the Greens Farms Elementary School polling place, with the results.

As an unknown quantity in a heavily contested race, lacking name recognition, Klein had steeled her son for the possibility of defeat.

“I told Carter the important thing was to get involved, go for it and try your best,” she recalls. “I told him I would still be committed, win or lose.”

During the campaign, Klein surprised herself by realizing how much she wanted to win. The closer Election Day loomed, the more she hoped she could serve.

Now she looks forward to learning even more about how Westport works — and about how to help her district. She has heard constituents’ concerns about high-speed trains coming through the Greens Farms station, maintaining the stellar school system, and the financial stability of the town. She is not afraid to asks questions, and learn more.

Klein knows a handful of RTM members, current and new. She is excited to meet her colleagues — “a great group, with a fantastic influx of new people.”

The other day, a League of Women Voters member asked Klein to serve coffee at tonight’s swearing-in ceremony for Westport elected officials (7:30 p.m., Town Hall).

Klein had to say no. She’ll be busy taking the oath of office herself.

Pic Of The Day #216

Sherwood Mill Pond (Photo/Betsy P. Kahn)

High Winds Bring Down Wires — And Start A Fire

Today’s high winds brought down trees and power lines in different parts of Westport.

Weston Road at Lyons Plains was closed for a couple of hours, while crews removed a tree that covered the street.

Meanwhile, a power line crashed onto North Maple, between Hyde Lane and Long Lots Road — and caused a fire.

Henry Blaikie took this video — from a safe distance.

Photo Challenge #151

The sign has been there for a long time.

“Westport Inc. 1835,” it says.

It’s not a legit, state- or town-issued sign. Hanging among trees, it’s easy to miss.

But Matt Murray, Mary Ann Batsell, David Sampson, Robert Mitchell, Seth Braunstein, Wendy Cusick and Amee Borys all knew that last week’s photo challenge hides in plain sight on Weston Road. It’s at the Westport/Weston border, on your right side as you cross into town from the north. (Click here for the photo.)

Congratulations, observant drivers. But we still want to know: How old is the sign? Who put it there? And how has it lasted so long?

Don’t know? No problem. Just turn your attention to this week’s photo challenge:

(Photo/Patricia McMahon)

If you think you know where in Westport you’d see this, click “Comments” below.


Carson And Connor Einarsen’s “Silent Beat”

In 2013, Carson and Connor Einarsen made “Ryan Hood.” The 60-minute film cost $40. (They rented jackets for police officers).

Two years later, the brothers filmed “An Inconsistent Story in Stealing” here. That was more ambitious. Written by Carson, the neo-noir movie featured a former thief sucked back into the town she despises, to hunt down something she stole long ago.

With 17 speaking parts and 40 locations, it cost $4,000.

Carson (left) and Connor (middle) Einarsen, directing “Ryan Hood.”

Now Carson and Connor are moving up in the film world. “The Silent Beat” will be filmed in Georgia.

It’s more expensive too. The projected cost is $13,500.

Connor calls “The Silent Beat” “a live-action feature film that tells a small, intimate superhero origin story.”

The hero has incredible hearing. He listens to things no one else can, including an old radio that talks to him. When his best friend disappears, he dons a helmet and cape to get him back.

There’s a reason the young men are filming in Georgia. Carson — a 2012 Staples High School grad, and film and TV major at the Savannah College of Art and Design — now teaches film at Gatewood Academy, a private school in Eatonton.

Connor (Staples ’10, Carleton College with a major in cinema and media studies) is happy to travel south to help.

The new film was written — over nearly a dozen drafts — by Carson. He set it in the 1980s because that was a time of advanced analog technology. The world was about to go digital — but no one knew it.

“It was a time before total connectivity,” Carson notes. His characters are isolated — but not in the way modern technology has made us become.

In the ’80s, Carson says, “you couldn’t just pull out your cellphone and call someone. You had to talk face to face.”

He was not alive in the 1980s, of course. He used a writers’ group as “consultants” on the decade. (They told him, for example, to call a certain type of sneakers “Chucks,” not “Converse.”)

“The Silent Beat,” in the planning stages.

Filming begins November 27, and runs through December 20. When it’s done, Carson hopes it makes the festival rounds.

It’s perfect for those audiences: “an action-adventure film aimed at young adults nostalgic for the ’80s,” Carson explains.

You know: those days when life was so uncomplicated.

But before there was a YouTube to show his promotional video, and a Kickstarter website to help raise the $13,500 the young filmmakers need.

(Click here for a Kickstarter link to Carson and Connor Einarsen’s “The Silent Beat.”)


Pic Of The Day #215

Compo Beach skate park (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

Hail To The Victors! Staples Field Hockey Wins State Championship

Last year, Staples and Darien tied in the state L (large schools) state title game. They were declared co-champs. That was quite an accomplishment.

But this year, there’s no sharing at all. The Wreckers edged the same team — the Blue Wave — 1-0 in the championship match, at Wethersfield High School.

Congratulations to coach Ian Tapsall, and his girls!

The 2017 state champion Staples field hockey team. (Photo courtesy of Sal Augeri)

They were not the only Staples team playing for a state crown today.

The girls soccer team — fresh off their FCIAC championship — fell 2-1 to Ridgefield, in the LL (largest schools) clash at West Haven High.

It’s very difficult to beat the same good team 3 times in one season. The Wreckers of coaches Barry Beattie, Mackenzie Pretty and Dave Sharpe had knocked off the Tigers twice before, in regular season and FCIAC tournament play.


If Only The Rest Of The Holidays Were This Easy

Christmas is coming! The holidays are almost here! Which means one thing: Westporters will soon be stressed to the max.

There’s plenty to worry about. Will my house look as wonderful as Martha Stewart’s and Hallmark’s? Am I a bad person because hearing “Have a Holly Jolly Christmas” 10 times a day for the next 6 weeks drives me batshit? When I find the perfect tree, how the hell am I supposed to get it home?

The answers to the first 2 questions are: no and no.

The answer to the final one is: Tree Transporter.

The TT is a soft-sided, frameless carrier. It attaches easily to a car roof, and the tree fits just as easily into it. It catches sap drippings and random needles.

And it’s the brainchild of a Staples High School grad.

Bobby Donofrio got his diploma on a hot day in 1999. Now — as the weather turns cold — he hopes to make hay off of pine trees.

His big product is actually pretty small. You can shove it in your pocket or purse, like a reusable bag.

When you’re ready to haul your tree home, just unroll it, put it in place, buckle it and tighten it. It takes just 60 seconds — far less than the amount of time you spend putting that !@#$%^ angel on the top, once it’s home.

Merry Christmas! For more information, or to order a Tree Transporter, click here.

Now get back to stressing out…