Category Archives: Restaurants

Friday Flashback #87

A local news site reported recently that the Post Road strip mall by North Maple Avenue — the one with Dunkin’ Donuts, a cleaners, tanning salon and much-loved Layla’s Falafel — would be torn down.

Not true. The demolition permit is for the hideous Quonset hut that has hulked behind it for decades.

A paint job in 2010 made it look at least a little more presentable.

So the strip mall will remain. It’s one of our many mini-shopping plazas.

The longest tenant — before sailing away in 2014 — was the Boat Locker. But back in the 1960s, that space was occupied by one of Westport’s first fast-food franchises:

(Photo courtesy of Paul Ehrismann)

KFC — or “Kentucky Fried Chicken,” as it was known then — was not the only quick poultry place in town.

Downtown, in Brooks Corner, Westporters enjoyed Chicken-a-Go-Go.

And yes, as the name indicated, they delivered.

Drag-gone: The Sequel

Earlier today, I ended my story on the move of Dragone Classic Motorcars from Post Road West to Orange by suggesting the 11,000-square foot property might be the site of a medical marijuana dispensary.

Some readers took me seriously.

I was kidding! It’s directly opposite Kings Highway Elementary School. You’d have to be smoking some heavy stuff to believe that would fly in this town.

But here’s something to consider.

Word around town — from reliable sources — is that a developer has closed on the former classic car showroom. He’s got his eye on the property next door too — where Villa del Sol planned to move.

Why? He wants to build 8-30(g) affordable housing there.

As in, 150 or more 2-bedroom apartments.

The former Dragone property and its neighbor, on Post Road West.

There’s already a plan in the works for the other side of Post Road West — the former “blighted homes” site on the crest of the hill heading downtown. That’s on the Planning and Zoning Commission agenda, for 81 8-30(g) units.

For a while, most Westport zoning battles have been waged on the other side of the river.

Westward ho!

Pic Of The Day #364

The old Vigilant Firehouse on Wilton Road is the new OKO Restaurant. It opens Thursday (April 19). (Photo/Dan Woog)

“Supper And Soul” Returns Soon

It’s not New Orleans, where music follows you from restaurants and clubs all the way down the street.

And it’s not Italy, where strolling musicians entertain you as you dine.

But every couple of months, Westport comes close.

That’s when the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce sponsors the unique 3-part “Supper and Soul” series. A $75 ticket covers a 3-course meal at one of 5 downtown restaurants; a concert at Seabury Center, and happy hour pricing for post-concert drinks at any of those 5 places.

The first “Supper and Soul” took place in January. It was a cold night, but the enthusiastic crowd was warmed by the concept, the restaurant hosts and the music.

The next “Supper and Soul” is Saturday, April 28. The headliner is Vanessa Collier, a blues performer known for her charm, passion, soulful voice and searing sax solos.

For the past year Vanessa has toured Europe as a featured artist with Ruf’s Blues Caravan, and North America with her 5-piece band.

The 5 restaurants are 190 Main, Amis, Rothbard Ale + Larder, Spotted Horse and Tavern on Main. Each is an easy walk from Seabury Center.

Dinner begins at 6 p.m. The concert follows at 8.

Tickets are bought online through the Chamber; reservations follow, on a first-come, first-served basis (also through the Chamber). Drinks and tips are not included in the ticket price.

For tickets and more information, click here.

Pic Of The Day #363

This mural — painted by Antoine Blech — appeared the other day on the Jeera Thai sidewalk, facing Sconset Square. (Photo/JP Vellotti)

Pic Of The Day #354

The old Positano restaurant on Hillspoint Road (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

Medical Marijuana Dispensaries: Yes, There’s A P&Z Meeting Tonight, Too

A posting earlier today noted that on Thursday, April 19 the Planning & Zoning Commission will hear 2 more proposals for medical marijuana dispensaries in Westport.

As alert “06880” reader Phil Perri commented, there is also a P&Z meeting tonight (Thursday, April 5, 7 p.m., Town Hall).

They’ll hear applications for dispensaries at the current sites of the Westport Dance Academy (Post Road West, near the Norwalk border) and the DXL men’s store (Post Road East, former Blockbuster).

A proposal for the old Bertucci’s property (Post Road East, near Sherwood Island Connector) has been pushed back to April 19.

Perri explained that on the 19th, the P&Z will also discuss a proposed change to the medical marijuana text amendment to change the definition of a “public building.” That’s because Bertucci’s is within 1,000 feet of one.

What “public building” is that? It’s a small shed on the state-owned salt storage property next to Walgreen’s.

Unsung Hero #42

Across Fairfield County, Food Rescue US volunteers are gearing up for April 25. That’s when the non-profit — which delivers extra food from restaurants, grocers, bakeries and caterers to soup kitchens, food pantries and other hunger relief organizations — throws its annual fundraiser. “Food For All” features amazing food and fun from over a dozen great restaurants, including Amis, Kawa Ni and Match Burger Lobster.

One of the volunteers working hardest on the event is Nicole Straight. But that’s no surprise. In the 4 years she’s been involved with Food Rescue US (formerly known as Community Plates), she’s saved untold tons of food.

And helped feed countless county residents.

A private chef, cookbook author and creator of Time to Eat! — a longtime cooking class for busy parents — Nicole is passionate about her volunteer work.

“In a community as fortunate as ours, it’s easy to oversee the invisible and sometimes uncomfortable hungry in our towns,” she told fellow food rescuer Ria Rueda.

“They are in Westport, Fairfield, Norwalk, New Canaan, Darien, Greenwich and Bridgeport. In the current culture, many people feel overwhelming powerlessness, a what-can-I-do feeling?”

Nicole Straight, rescuing food.

For Nicole, service means “boots on the ground” small acts. She loves helping her immediate community, easily and in under an hour.

Food rescue can be done alone, or with family or friends. An app allows anyone to find out when a food run is needed, 7 days a week.

“I love this job because it humanizes and connects me to people in our community I might never have met,” Nicole says.

Since becoming site director in 2016, Nicole has increased the volunteer base from 300 to 500.

But food rescue is not all she does.

Nicole volunteers weekly at the Cesar Batalla School in Bridgeport.

Nicole Straight, with students at Cesar Batalla School.

And she teaches poker at Westport’s Senior Center.

Which is just one more reason we are proud to “hand” this week’s Unsung Hero award to the very aptly named Nicole Straight.

(For more information on the “Food for All” fundraiser, and tickets, click here. For more information on Food Rescue US, click here. To nominate an Unsung Hero, email dwoog@optonline.net)

And The Pizza Winners Are…

Over 1,700 pizza lovers cast votes during last month’s Great Westport Pizza Contest.

Sponsored by the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce, 14 restaurants competed in 7 categories.

When the votes were tallied, you chose:

  • Best slice: Westport Pizzeria
  • Best plain pizza: Westport Pizzeria
  • Best meat pizza: Joe’s Pizza
  • Best gluten-free pizza:  Joe’s Pizza
  • Best veggie pizza: Tutti’s Ristorante
  • Best delivered pizza:  Jordan’s Restaurant
  • Best personal pizza: Rizzuto’s Restaurant and Toscano Pizzeria (tie)
  • Honorable mention:  Romanacci Pizza Bar and Planet Pizza lost by only 2 votes in the “Best personal pizza” and “Best delivered pizza” categories, respectively.

Mel Mioli’s Westport Pizzeria may have moved to the Post Road, after 45 years on Main Street. But it’s still a Westport favorite.

The victors did not get any dough — just the satisfaction of coming out on top (and free publicity).

Any way you slice it, the Great Westport Pizza Contest was a winner.

March was Westport Pizza Month. That’s not just an idea — it was an official proclamation from 1st Selectman Jim Marpe (2nd from left). Joining him were (from left) Westport Chamber of Commerce director Matthew Mandell; Ira Bloom of event sponsors Bercham Moses, and Joe Canicatti, owner of double winner Joe’s Pizza.

 

Any Way You Slice It, Julian’s Closes

Today is the final day to vote for your favorite pizza place in Westport.

But there’s one less contender than when the contest began.

Monday was is the final day for Julian’s, the brick oven pizzeria on Riverside Avenue.

An employee at the Post Road East location — which remains open — says the reason for the closing was a huge rent increase.

Sounds like the scourge of downtown has spread to Saugatuck.

At the 2016 Slice of Saugatuck, the line to sample Julian’s pizza ran past Parker Mansion.