Category Archives: Restaurants

Funds Raised For Marie Boyer

You may not know her name. But chances are you saw Marie Boyer around town.

The Westport mother walked miles to several different jobs — in all kinds of weather.

One was at Little Barn. She often opened up before anyone else got there. She worked long hours, hoping to get her girls a good education. Tracy — a Staples graduate — is in college, while Tamikah is a rising high school senior.

The Haitian native spoke mostly Creole. She lived on Hales Court, with her husband and daughters.

Marie died August 10, after a brief illness. She was 48 years old.

Friends organized a GoFundMe page, raising money for funeral and memorial expenses, back to school items, college expenses and day-to-day necessities. Click here to help.

Marie’s funeral is this Saturday (August 24), 8 a.m. at the Church of the Nazarene, 146 Main Street in Norwalk.

Mayer Boyer, when her daughters were young.

Very Special Family Visits Joey’s

Joey’s by the Shore is one of Westport’s not-so-hidden gems.

It’s got the most interesting menu of any beach place I’ve seen. Joey, Donny and the kids who work there do a great job cooking, handling crowds, and coaxing orders out of kids (and parents) who get to the cash register, look up from their iPhones and suddenly have no idea what they want.

Joey’s crew is also fanatical about keeping the place looking nice, inside and out.

One thing they should not have to do is clean up after customers.

On my way inside Sunday, I passed a family — dad, mom, 3 cute kids — eating at a patio table. The sky was blue; the vibe, wonderfully chill.

This is what I saw when I came out:

The happy family was nowhere to be seen.

Of course, they may have had an excellent excuse for leaving their gross mess:

Perhaps it was their maid’s day off.

Batsh*t Bride Comes Home

First came “Groundhog Day.” Then “Independence Day.”

A new film takes place on April 1. It’s not called “April Fools Day” — the title is “Batsh*t Bride” — but the premise is clear.

Just before her wedding that day, a bride pranks her fiance by saying they should break up. Unfortunately, he feels the same way. Everything spirals out of control from there.

Jonathan Smith’s indie feature — starring Meghan Falcone as Heather — debuts August 26 at Stamford’s Avon Theatre. The venue is signifcant: “Batsh*t Bride” was filmed throughout Fairfield County.

Many scenes took place right here, including Christ & Holy Trinity Church and Longshore and Pearl restaurant. A number of Westporters had roles as extras.

The first scene the filmmakers shot was Heather’s failed wedding. Cinematographer Jason Merrin worked on it while in town for his own wedding.

A local blog posted the call for extras. Expecting only a handful of people, Smith planned his camera angles creatively. However, the Christ & Holy Trinity pews were packed.

Lights! Camera and action came later. (Photo/Ellen Bowen)

Many extras were then recruited for other background shots. One was even given a line.

The ballroom and hotel scenes were all shot at The Inn at Longshore. But the production was allowed in only on Monday through Wednesday, for 2 consecutive weeks.

Smith liked Longshore so much, he rewrote several sections to fit the grounds. He added in golf and kayak scenes.

Tickets to the premiere are $10. Chez Vous Bistro offers a $25 prix fixe 2-course dinner prior to the screening, while Flinders Lane Kitchen & Bar has happy hour drink prices and complimentary appetizers after the screening (with ticket stubs).

Email batshitbride@gmail.com for tickets and dinner reservations.

Menu Moments: What To Eat At Sakura

For over 30 years, Sakura has been a Westport favorite. It’s a go-to place for celebrations, from birthdays and graduations to family reunions. Kids never tire of the hibachi tables, while the tatami rooms in back are great for private dining.

But for many Westporters, Japanese food can still be difficult to figure out. As part of “06880”‘s continuing series on healthy eating, Dietician Heather Bauer offers tips on the best dishes to order at the Post Road landmark.

Hibachi Recommendations

  • Start with onion soup or salad (if you order salad, use ½ dressing)

Entree:

  • Choose shrimp or chicken as your protein, and enjoy the veggies. The oil/sauce entree is cooked in and will count as your carb, so try to skip the rice at this meal. Also, avoid the extra dipping sauces they give you on the side.
  • Alternative: Order the sushi recommendations below at the hibachi table.

Sushi Recommendations

Appetizer (select one):

  • Miso soup (if you are not salt-sensitive)
  • Mixed green salad (with a half-serving of ginger dressing)
  • Edamame (share)
  • Seaweed salad

Entree (choose one):

  • Order your favorite roll Naruto style (wrapped in cucumber instead of rice). I love tuna/avocado, yellowtail/jalapeno or salmon/avocado. You can also order 1 hand roll of your choice (optional request: use cucumber instead of rice).
  • 6-piece maki roll (request to be cut into 8 pieces; this helps slow you down), with 4 pieces of sashimi.
  • 6 pieces of sashimi, and a side order of oshitashi (spinach).
  • Chirashi sushi (comes with 6 pieces of sashimi over steamed rice; eat one-quarter to one-half of the rice; leave the rest over. This is a great option for naturally slower eaters).
  • Chicken or salmon teriyaki, with double steamed veggies (skip the rice, as the sauce counts as your carb here. This is a great option for anyone who does not like sushi).

Things to Avoid

  • Tempura, spider, dynamite, spicy rolls and eel.
  • Dishes described as Agemono or tempura; both are deep-fried.
  • Sushi rolls made with cream cheese and too much avocado.

Additional Notes

  • Look for rolls wrapped in cucumber instead of rice (Naruto style).
  • Order your maki roll (usually 6 pieces) to be cut into 8 pieces; this helps you take smaller bites. Also, ordering rolls inside out adds more rice (better with the seaweed on the outside).
  • If you switch your roll from white to brown rice you add fiber, which makes it more filling. Note: brown and white rice calories are about the same.
  • Edamame usually comes salted; it is soybeans, so this works best for vegetarians or slower eaters who will only have a few pieces. If you are a fast eater and not good at sharing food, don’t start the edamame until there is a quarter or half left (in case you have trouble stopping!).
  • You can also always sub the rice in a hand roll for cucumber or other veggies.
  • Always request lite soy sauce. Add wasabi and ice cubes to help dilute it. No refills!
  • Eating with chopsticks helps slow you down.
  • Be careful with sake. It has more calories than you realize. Six ounces of sake is about 240 calories (there are 150 calories in 6 ounces of wine).

It all looks great. But some options at Sakura are healthier than others.

Al Fresco At Romanacci’s

Plenty of commuters pick up dinner to go at Romanacci Express.

But many people also eat in, at the popular pizza-and-more spot directly opposite the train station

Now they can also eat “out” — literally — on Railroad Place.

The restaurant received a permit to use one parking spot directly in front for al fresco tables. The view is not quite Roman — but it’s pleasant, breezy, and great for people-watching.

The idea was encouraged by town officials, eager to enliven Westport’s dining scene.

Tarantino and Harvest may follow soon.

Bistro Du Soleil Serves Up Fine Food — And Art

There are 2 types of excellent restaurants in Westport:

The ones everyone talks about. You know what they are.

And the ones that don’t get much buzz at all. Like Bistro du Soleil.

Tucked away in a corner of the old Saugatuck post office — on Riverside Avenue just before the train station, next to now-departed Westport Auction — the Mediterranean-with-a-French-flair spot is beloved by everyone who knows it.

But not everyone does.

Bistro du Soleil is a family affair. Owner Maria Munoz del Castillo works alongside her parents, Soledad and Bernardo. They came to the US in the 1980s.

Soledad was trained as a French chef. Bernardo — a craftsman as well as a restaurateur — lovingly made every table, the outdoor seating and handsome wooden bar. He’s also a playwright and poet.

Bernardo Munoz del Castillo (right) hand-crafted this handsome wooden bar.

Bistro du Soleil is more than a great restaurant. Since it opened 2 years ago, over 200 local and international artists have had their work highlighted on the sunflower gold walls.

Next up: Peter Saverine. A public reception to meet him, see his art, and enjoy wine and treats is set for this Sunday (August 4, 4 to 7 p.m.).

Like Bistro du Soleil, Saverine is a strong believer in giving back. He wants his art to be affordable, so he’s priced it at $20 to $450.

One of Peter Saverine’s works …

When he offered to donate a portion of his sales to a local non-profit, Soledad asked him to choose one supporting women and girls. Saverine selected Project Return, the Homes with Hope facility on North Compo Road that helps homeless young women rebuild their lives.

Like Bistro du Soleil’s owner, Saverine has an intriguing background. Professionally he’s director of philanthropy at STAR, the non-profit serving area residents with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

But he’s also a self-taught artist. His seascapes capture familiar scenes along Long Island Sound, Cape Cod and Nantucket. Compo Beach is a frequent inspiration.

… and another.

Saverine also authored a children’s book about a mermaid: “Jenny’s Pennies — A Nantucket Tradition.”

Great food and wine; fine (and affordable) art; a wonderful cause — it’s all there Sunday.

Whether you’re a Bistro du Soleil fan or never heard of the place, this is a wonderful reason to stop by.

New Pizza Place Rising In Old Bertucci’s

If you’ve been waiting for Ignazio’s — the new pizza place in the old Bertucci’s — to open…

… you’ll have to wait a little longer.

The build-out is taking a while. Owner Louis Termini hopes for September.

Meanwhile, here’s the antipasto.

Termini — a Brooklyn native — says he opened the first oven-fired oven in the Hartford area, in 1990. Luna Pizza soon expanded to 7 locations in Hartford County.

He returned to his native borough when he found a great location underneath the Brooklyn Bridge.

There was one problem: It was around the corner from the legendary Grimaldi’s.

No problem! Ignazio’s — named after his father — has been a huge hit.

So Termini is not fazed by coming into a town that has more than its share of excellent Italian restaurants.

It’s a town he knows well. On drives between Brooklyn and Hartford, he stopped here often for lunch.

“I enjoy eating out,” he says. “I think I tried every place in Westport.”

Termini grew up on the water. In February he rented a house on Saugatuck Shores. He loved sitting in his grandmother’s rocking chair on the heated porch.

This summer, he’s enjoying it even more.

A realtor friend from the Bronx helped find the Bertucci’s site. “He’s Jewish, I’m Italian,” Termini says. “But we have the same childhood memories.”

There’s another New York connection: the Westport landlord knows the Brooklyn restaurant well. His sister lives around the corner from it.

Termini learned pizza-making from his mother and grandmother. He tweaked their recipes, so his pies are “a little different” than the standard neighborhood pizzerias of his youth.

He is proud of his fresh mozzarella. And he uses the same olive oils, cheeses, plum tomatoes and sauces he grew up with.

The doors are open. But Ignazio’s is still a few weeks away from welcoming customers.

Yet Termini is more than just a pizzeria owner. He’s also an artist. He got into the restaurant business after his first child was born — because, he says, of the type of artist he was: “starving.”

So he’s pleased to share Ignazio’s space with One River Art + Design. Shearwater — the popular Fairfield coffee bar, where Termini gets his java — will be there too.

Termini will offer both thin crust and Sicilian pizza from his wood-fired oven. Of course he’ll serve other dishes, like calzones — “and a few surprises we don’t have in Brooklyn.”

He’s discovered Connecticut Farm Fresh Express, which delivers produce. He’s looking for a good Connecticut beer to serve too.

Termini definitely knows the territory. The other day, he had dinner at the new Meatball Shop. He enjoyed it.

Of course, he notes, “there’s room for more than one meatball in town.”

Menu Moments: What To Order At Spotted Horse

Spotted Horse is a Westport favorite — a go-to place for a family celebration, drinks and dinner with colleagues, or to meet out-of-town friends.

But while your companions might order something heavy — or fried — you’ve got plenty of healthy options. Dietician Heather Bauer offers tips on the best dishes to order at the downtown landmark.

Appetizers (Share a few, rather than ordering your own)

Hummock Island oysters (½ dozen)

Tuna tartare (try to skip the plantain chips — a hard ask!)

Prosciutto/cucumber and melon

Roasted marinated beet salad

Crispy Brussels sprouts (delicious, and too good to be true — make sure to share!)

Roasted cauliflower

Fish entrees

Sesame-crusted ahi tuna tacos (comes deconstructed — skip the tortilla)

Ahi tuna tacos (skip the tortilla!)

Sushi-grade tuna seared rare/pineapple-cilantro salsa/wasabi yogurt sauce and warm flour tortillas

Pan-seared scallops or salmon

Salads: Order the Grey Goose Cobb (without bacon and blue cheese), kale and avocado or roasted bet salad; add grilled shrimp, grilled salmon or ahi tuna

Salmon burger (no bun; ask for the house salad as a side)

Meat entrees

Grey Goose Cobb (with grilled chicken or grilled steak; then pick either bacon OR goat or Parmesan cheese — you can’t have both, because of the dressing and avocado; note that the salads listed above under “Fish” also work here with chicken or steak)

Classic burger (no bun; ask for the house salad as a side)

Seared filet tips appetizer (order as an entree, with a side salad)

Vegetarian entrees

Tommy’s vegetable spasta (marinara/spaghetti squash/zucchini/red peppers/basic pesto/pine nuts/shave Parmigiano/extra virgin olive oil and lemon)

House-made veggie burger (black bean-based, gluten-free; order without the bun; choose the house salad, not fries)

Veggie burger

Veggie bowl (order with sauce on the side)

Roasted cauliflower/roasted beets/shaved veggies/avocado/sesame dressing/garbanzo beans and scallions

Kale and avocado salad

Grey Goose Cobb (no chicken, egg or bacon; ask for goat cheese instead of blue cheese)

Roasted beet salad

Bonus dining tip from Heather

Choose foods that take a while to eat. Ordering something you can wolf down in 2 minutes makes the rest of the meal a struggle. Go for things that take longer to chew: a big side salad, mussels rather than scallops, or a lean steak (like a small filet mignon that requires cutting) rather than pasta.

Paying The Planet’s Price

I like Planet Pizza. Their slices are tasty and big. Service is fast and friendly. They support local organizations whenever they’re asked.

But — like a number of “06880” readers, who have emailed me about this — I’m calling BS on the chain’s recent policy shift.

According to notices and flyers, Planet Pizza now offers a “discount” to customers who pay by cash, rather than credit card.

The other day, I ordered a slice. The price was the usual: $4.25. I asked for my cash discount.

No, they said. The sign just meant I’d have to pay more if I used a credit card.

If the price is the same as before, it’s not a cash discount — despite what the sign says, in 3 places. It’s a credit card surcharge.

Offering a surcharge is illegal in Connecticut. A cash discount is fine. (Click here for the legalese.)

But a discount is “an amount or percentage deducted from the normal selling price of something.”

So if the price has not changed — and Planet Pizza’s pies, calzones and everything else are still listed as the same price as before — they’re not offering a discount.

They’re adding a surcharge.

I’ll keep ordering slices there. I’ll continue to pay cash.

But I won’t kid myself that I’m getting a “discount.”

Pic Of The Day #828

Yesterday’s rainbow, as seen from Bartaco … (Photo/Erik Ostbye)

… and the Levitt Pavilion, for the great concert by Our Native Daughters … (Photo/Claire Bangser)

… and over Cockenoe Island (Photo/Sharon Lipper)