Category Archives: Restaurants

Roundup: Shore Birds, Sundance, Swimsuits …

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An American oystercatcher is nesting at Compo Beach.

Parks & Rec is on the case.

Department staff has strung rope around the site, keeping people away from the fragile bird and her eggs. A sign offers information about her habits.

Another sign describes other threatened shorebirds. It’s fascinating to read.

And heed.

The oystercatcher sign …

… and another, describing piping plovers and least terns. (Photos/Dinkin Fotografik)

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An excited “06880” reader writes:

I’ll admit I got a little breathless when I received a Sundance email headlined, “Visit Our New Store in Westport.”

Westport?! This catalog has served as my retail therapy vision board for years; the source of countless subtle, dog-eared “tips” I’ve left for my spouse re birthday and holiday gifts.

If you’re unfamiliar with the Robert Redford-stamped brand, think Millie Rae’s meets Anthropologie — high-end, carefully curated, bohemian-Southwest-y silver and gold jewelry, as well as clothes, shoes and housewares.

I can’t wait to see how they deck out their brick-and-mortar store on Main Street (the former Ann Taylor — it’s only their 18th retail location). Am I excited enough about it to get the free gift for booking an “early access appointment”?

Why yes, actually, I might be. If they do this right, I think it’s about as perfect a fit for Westport as any catalogue-come-to-life could be.

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Last year, during the darkest days of the pandemic, the Westport Garden Club’s “Friday Flowers” project brightened up our town. Once a week, members placed beautiful bouquets at very visible spots.

The Garden Club has picked up again this year. The first Friday Flowers of 2021 was delivered to Saugatuck Congregational Church.

Keep your eyes open every week. And if you see a Westport Garden Club member: thank her!

Friday Flowers at the church entrance. (Photo/Pat Nave)

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Speaking of Saugatuck Church: Boy Scout Troop 36 — which they sponsor, and provide meeting space for — helped make yesterday’s mattress recycling drive a huge success.

The Scouts picked up 34 mattresses and box springs throughout town. Then they headed to Earthplace, and helped load the items into a truck.

The Scouts’ efforts doubled the number of items received during Sustainable Westport’s project

Troop 36 Scouts also volunteered at Earthplace, filling containers with free compost for residents.

Boy Scout Troop 36 members, with mattresses and the recycling truck.

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Tracy Rosen offers a shout-out for a local business.

The other afternoon, she and a friend went to Shearwater for coffee. But they close at 4 p.m.

They decided instead to have a glass of wine next door, at Ignazio’s Pizza.

“They couldn’t have been nicer!” Tracy says.

“They set up a table for us outside, and lit a wood-burning fire pit. They were so hospitable,  just letting us sit there with our wine, never pushing us to order anything else. But their pizza smells amazing!”

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Westport PAL’s motto is “It’s all about the kids.”

And kids of all ages love car shows.

The PAL is sponsoring one on June 20 (10 a.m. to 2 p.m., railroad station parking lot near Railroad Place and Franklin Street). In addition to cool cars, there’s food and raffle prizes.

Tickets are $15 each. But kids — that is, anyone under 12 — are free. Of course.

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The other day, “06880” highlighted the Connecticut Preservation Award for 70 Turkey Hill South.

An award ceremony was held last week, via Zoom. Here’s a video of all 10 awards. The Westport one begins at 16;13. (Hat tip: Bob Weingarten)

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There’s always something new at George Billis Gallery.

An opening reception this Friday (May 14, 4 to 7 p.m.) showcases “A Glimpse Ahead.” The figurative exhibit focuses on summer, with artwork that includes swimmers, surfers, pool scenes and waterscapes. The aim is to create a sense of peace, relaxation and joy.

Among the artists: Westporter Dale Najarian. She contributes abstracted waterscapes on canvas and wood panel.

The exhibit runs through June 13.

“Jewel Landscape,” oil on canvas (Dale Najarian)

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And finally … Happy Mother’s Day, to every “06880” mother out there.

None of us would be here without you. We love you, moms!

JC Martin’s Westport

As spring’s wonders linger in Westport, JC Martin grabbed his camera.

The talented photographer documented this gorgeous season — its natural beauty, and some of the folks enjoying it. 

Here are his images, from the past few days.

Parker Harding Plaza blossoms.

Parker Harding, by the Saugatuck River.

Another view of downtown.

Musicians at Don Memo …

… and in front of the restaurant.

Last summer, Homes with Hope youngsters painted this mural on Compo Road South.

The vest pocket park, on the walking path to Compo Cove.

Al fresco at Arezzo. (Photos/JC Martin)

 

Winfield Coffee Cruises The Coast

Winfield Street Coffee is a fixture on Post Road West. There are other shops in Stamford and Croton, New York; a delivery service in Wilton, and 4 more set to open this summer in Rye and Manhattan.

But that’s just part of the plan. Owner Breno Donatti wants to expand Winfield’s horizons even more — along with his charitable mission of helping people in need.

A truck — coffee-colored, with “Espresso Yo’self” painted on the back — will soon hit the streets.

Almost ready to hit the road.

Serving coffee, espresso (natch), nitro on tap, bagel sandwiches and pastries, the mobile unit will introduce the brand into new neighborhoods — and states.

It will also expand Winfield’s Giving Back program. Instead of delivering pre-made meals to shelters, they’ll be made fresh, to order. The goal is audacious: 21,000 meals, in 2021.

Breno’s family is in Naples, Florida. There’s a lot of requests for New York bagels and (good) coffee in southwest Florida. So the truck will spend June at Park Shore Plaza. Then it will cruise up the East Coast.

Where exactly?

Breno wants to know. If you’re a landlord and want the truck in your parking lot — or if you’d like it to come to your neighborhood — email bdonatti@winfieldcoffee.com.

Pics Of The Day #1481

Nature’s confetti, outside Don Memo … (Photo/Jenae Weinbrenner)

… and nature’s canopy, a few yards away outside Gillespie Center. (Photo/June Rose Whittaker)

Roundup: Roe Halper, Southport Diner, Elusive Objects …

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After Roe Halper’s husband Chuck died in 2017, the noted artist wanted to make a tribute incorporating emotion, interpretation and design. She used lndia ink with Chinese brushes to create a book called Passage, about Chuck’s passage through life.

“Although I was thinking of him when I created it, it has a universal theme,” Roe says.

Passage is available at the Westport Library Store, Westport Museum of History & Culture (formerly the Westport Historical Society) and Barrett Book Store in Darien, and directly from Roe (203-226-5187; chalper@optonline.net).

A page from “Passage,” by Roe Halper.

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Once upon a time, it was the Athena Diner.

It had a grand reopening yesterday with a new name: The Southport Diner.

The website says: “Chef John and his brother Chef Adonis, aka Tony the Greek, grew up running Andros Diner in Fairfield, working with their father Leo Pertesis.”

So though the name has changed, it’s still one of those Northeast favorites: a Greek diner. (Hat tip: Isabelle Breen)

Southport Diner

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How do you capture the most elusive objects in the solar system?

I’m not sure. But Thierry Legault may.

The world renowned astrophotographer joins the Westport Astronomical Society on May 18 (8 p.m.) for a virtual talk on the topic of elusive objects.

From his home “in the light-polluted suburbs of Paris,” he’ll show some of those elusive objects he’s captured — like images of the International Space Station, eclipses and transits.

The event will be presented both as a Zoom webinar (click here to register), and a YouTube livestream (click here for the page).

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Dr. Suniya Luthar is familiar to many Westporters.

The emerita professor of psychology at Columbia’s Teachers College led a longitudinal study on youth and resilience here. She chose Westport because of its high number of high-achieving professionals, and the emphasis on status and achievement. 

That study was referenced in a guest essay in today’s New York Times. The piece looks at the mental health of young people today. Click here to read. But beware: The news is not good.

Psressures — academic, social and other — are high on teenagers today. (Photo/Dan Woog)

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“Goodbye Honey.”

That’s the name of the new movie from Todd Rawiszer. The 2007 Staples High School graduate produced and co-wrote the film.

Shot in Westport and Pennsylvania, it follows 2 women who must trust each other to survive the longest night of their lives. They are “badass, strong women,” as well as good Samaritans.

“Goodbye Honey” was screen at festivals across the country, winning Best Thriller Feature, Best Actress and Best Supporting Actor at the Garden State Film Festival, Best Lead Performance at the Nightmares Film Festival, and Best Actress at NOLA Horror Film Festival.

It will be released May 11 on cable, satellite and digital HD>

Click below for the trailer:

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Nature continues to elate and inspire us. Lavinia Lawson spotted this handsome sight at Grace Salmon Park …

(Photo/Lavinia Lawson)

… while Lauri Weiser snapped this shot at the Lansdowne condominiums.

(Photo/Lauri Weiser)

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Former Westporter Alex Lasry is running for the United States Senate.

In Wisconsin.

The 33-year-old Democrat hopes to unseat Republican Ron Johnson. Lasry has taken a leave from his position as Milwaukee Bucks senior vice president. His father — a billionaire businessman and hedge fund executive — co-owns the NBA team. The Lasry family first lived on Sylvan Road North. Marc Lasry now lives on Beachside Avenue.

Before the Bucks, Alex Lasry worked in the Obama White House for senior advisor Valerie Jarrett. He was host committee chair for the 2020 Democratic Convention, which was planned for Milwaukee but held virtually due to COVID. (Hat tip: Gloria Gouveia)

Alex Lasry

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And finally … in honor of the Westport Astronomical Society’s lecture capturing the most elusive objects in the solar system:

“06880, The Podcast”: David Waldman

The inaugural episode of “0688o: The Podcast” was a hit. I chatted with superintendent of schools Thomas Scarice about how he came here, his challenges and joys, and what’s ahead for the district.

This week’s guest — David Waldman — is a native Westporter. He too has a huge impact on our town. He’s the developer behind Bedford Square, and the new offices and condos on the west side of the Saugatuck River. He’s revitalized Sconset Square, and turned an old bank into Patagonia.

There’s much more he’d love to do, in the town he loves. I asked him about Westport — what works, what doesn’t, and why — and he answered candidly.

We had a great time at the Westport Library’s Verso Studios. Click here to see my interview with David Waldman.

When you’re done, you’ll never look at downtown the same way again.

Screenshot of David Waldman on “06880: The Podcast.”

Friday Flashback #242

For the 2nd summer in a row, nearly every Westport restaurant will offer outdoor dining.

Viva Zapata has done it for decades.

Viva’s (as it’s universally known) has not changed much over the years. Here’s a view from the 1970s.

The menu is not much different either.

As for the prices … well, consider what your Westport home cost back in 1969, when this menu was popular, and Viva’s was in its first location. That was Post Road East (State Street), at the entrance to what is now Playhouse Square.

(Photos courtesy of Sam O’Mahony)

Roundup: Farmers’ Market, Outdoor Dining, Charlie Capalbo …

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One of the surest signs of spring is the return of the Westport Farmers’ Market.

Mark your calendars for Thursday, May 13. The Market will run every Thursday, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., through mid-November, at the Imperial Avenue parking lot. Cross Culture Kombucha will offer a special toast, to celebrate WFM’s perseverance through the pandemic.

The Market’s shopping experience and programming (including Get Growing, Music @ the Market, Artist Alley, Chef @ the Market, Friend of the Market and Young Shoots) will operate much like before COVID — while honoring all state and local health guidelines.

Over 50 vendors will participate this season (click here for the full list), with over 30 on site each Thursday. New vendors include

  • Parlor
  • Stonington Kelp Farm
  • Edenesque (alternative dairy)
  • Tribus Brewery
  • Sprout Juice Bar
  • Stylish Spoon
  • And more.

For more information, click here or email   director@westportfarmersmarket.com.

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State and local officials wanted to support for outdoor dining. What better spot to do it than an actual restaurant.

Yesterday, the group gathered at Tarantino’s. They discussed a new state expansion of rules, and the possibility of making them permanent. Removing parking, adding seating on Railroad Place, and the use of town- and state-owned parking lots were among the concepts.

Dining and discussion at Tarantino’s (clockwise from left): 2nd Selectwoman Jen Tooker, Police Chief Foti Koskinas, 1st Selectman Jim Marpe, State Representative Jonathan Steinberg, Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce executive director Matthew Mandell, State Senator Tony Hwang, State Representative Stephanie Thomas.

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A few spots remain for tomorrow’s (Saturday, May 1) Fleet Feet 5K and kids’ fun runs. The youngsters start at 9:30 a.m., with the 5K following at 10. Click here to register.

Both kick off the 2nd annual Fitness & Health Expo. The event takes place all along Main Street (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.), but many more businesses and organizations are involved.

Westport’s leading studios and clubs — including JoyRide, Pure Barre, Row House, Elliptica, Intensity, Physique57, Club Pilates, Saugatuck Rowing Club, The Dance Collective, Stretch Lab, Kaia Yoga and the Westport Weston Family YMCA — will organize fun (and challenging) classes on main Street.

Walk-ups are not permitted for classes. To register, contact each studio directly. Observers are welcome, of course!

Other health and wellness folks will have a presence too: Franny’s Farmacy, RESTORE Cryo, Cparkly Soul, Wisdom and Youth MedSpa, Embrace Orthodontics, New England Hemp Farm, TAP Strength Lab and Organic Krush. It’s sponsored by the Westport Downtown Association.

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Jill Bodach is an adjunct professor at Fairfield University. Describing Charlie Capalbo — the Fairfield resident whose grandmother is Westport writer Ina Chadwick, and who has fiercely battled cancer twice — she says:

“Over the years, I have had the privilege of being allowed into some of my students’ most intimate moments: the grief of losing loved ones, the end of relationships, engagements and graduate school acceptances, but never has a student’s story impacted me as deeply as Charlie’s.

He was enrolled in my Creative Writing: Fiction 1 class this semester but before classes could really begin, I learned he wouldn’t complete the semester due to his treatment. I wanted to help. Maybe it was because I saw this handsome, curly-haired young man’s face on my class roster and thought, ‘Wow, the world can be so incredibly unfair sometimes. Maybe it was because I’m a parent myself. Maybe it was because my son Jack was very sick when he was born and my husband and I endured the mental and emotional rollercoaster of having a hospitalized child. Maybe it was because as we emerged from the dark isolation of the pandemic I felt the need to connect with others deeply and more fervently than ever before.

When Jill’s trainer challenged her to run 100 miles in May, she saw it as a way to help Charlie.

When he told Jill during a text that he uses Uber Eats regularly — and she thought about the important role food plays in our lives — she had an idea for a fundraiser.

“I will think of Charlie with every step I take,” she writes of her 100-mile goal. “I am in awe of his courage, bravery, resilience and grit …. Someday Charlie will be back on the ice, back on campus and back to enjoying his life, but in the meantime, I’m grateful to be able to help.”

All proceeds from “Fuel for the Fight” will purchase Uber Eats gift cards for the Capalbos. Their expenses have been enormous. Click here to contribute.

Charlie and his mother, Jennifer Wilde Capalbo — with food.

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Attention, middle schoolers looking for an in-person social justice theater camp:

Check out Camp WCP. That’s the newest offering from the Westport Country Playhouse. It runs July 6 through 30, weekdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the rehearsal studio.

Actin will be taught in the morning, playwriting/production in the afternoon. Young artists  will create original pieces focusing on “What does home mean to you?” Working with playwright and University of Michigan professor José Casas, they’ll weave their stories into a play.

On July 31, students will share their original creations at the Playhouse. with family and friends.

Registration begins Monday (May 3); click here.

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The Unitarian Church is nestled in the church off Lyons Plains Road. Nature is everywhere — including this photo by their director of social justice, David Vita.

“Dinner time,” he says simply.

(Photo/David Vita)

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And finally … Johnny Horton was born today, in 1925. If he hadn’t been killed in an automobile accident in 1960, there’s no telling how many other historical saga songs he could have recorded.

 

NewBrook Closing; Opportunity For Lease, Furnishings

The last 4 years have been rewarding for Cindy and Danielle Hartog.

And challenging.

The mother and daughter run NewBrook Kitchen & Artisan Market on Saugatuck Avenue, next to Dunville’s. Their “paleo café” — offering tasty full course meals, salads, soups, cookies, nut milk coffee and vegan ice cream — has been a passion project.

But COVID hit hard. They tried to reinvent their business. Unfortunately, they say, it wasn’t enough.

NewBrook hopes to close on June 7. Yet challenges remain.

They must sell most of their furniture and inventory. That includes a French antique tasting room table, Restoration Hardware high tops and West Elm smaller tables, along with truffle mayo, organic dark baking chocolate and much more. Pricing is over half off.

Among the items for sale: a Parc Monceau French antique parquet table.:

The bigger challenge is finding someone to take over the last year of the lease, and buy the kitchen equipment.

The entire setup is for sale: 2 ovens, refrigerators and freezers, plus everything else necessary to cook professionally.

The Hartogs are willing to negotiate. The remaining 1-year lease is extremely affordable — under $2,500 a month — with the option to renew for another 5 years. That’s rare for Westport.

Their landlord is “incredible,” they say. He’s helping any way he can.

The full store of gluten-free gourmet groceries is dramatically on sale. The Hartogs hope to hear too from restaurants or bakeries that need bulk ingredients, like chocolate.

To learn more, text or call Cindy Hartog (203-858-6993), or email NewBrookKitchen@gmail.com.

Roundup: Friday – P&Z, CBD, Kelp …

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Last night, the Planning & Zoning Commission approved new regulations regarding accessory apartments (units in a principal dwelling) and “accessory dwelling units” (those in attached structures).

As “06880” reported earlier this month, the new rules will open up our housing stock. They could add a small number of affordable housing units, and provide added income for residents going through life changes — the loss of a job, say, or divorce, or those whose children have moved away and who want to move into a smaller place on their own property, while renting out their larger home.

Also last night, Neil Cohn moved from alternate to full member of the P&Z, He replaces Greg Rutstein, who resigned Wednesday due to increased business responsibilities in a new job. Both are Democrats.

Rutstein praised chair Danielle Dobin, his fellow commissioners and Planning & Zoning Department head Mary Young. Noting that the board faces many important decisions, he said, “I want to make sure that I allow others who have the time to carefully consider these issues to serve the town that I love so dearly.”  

Dobin said, “In 3 short years, Greg has had a meaningful impact on Westport. He worked tirelessly to make the P&Z more efficient — cutting through red tape, and saving residents and businesses time and fees. His insightful questions, positive energy and good humor will be deeply missed by all of us.

“We warmly welcome Neil Cohn, one of our longstanding alternate commissioners in Greg’s place. Through his work chairing the Economic Growth Subcommittee, which he founded, Neil is playing an integral part in ensuring P&Z regulations promote a vibrant Westport.”

Neil Cohn

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Westport men and women can shop for CBD at 2 downtown stores literally around the corner from each other.

But what about man’s best friend?

We got that too.

Local resident Joseph Sequenzia just launched an all-natural hemp-derived  CBD dog treat. YUP PUP is part of a growing interest in pet wellness. The CEO says that dogs experience anxiety relief from CBD — a chemical compound in cannabis — along with health benefits like joint pain, digestion and healthy coats.

His mission is to “treat our pets to the same health and happiness they treat us to,” Sequenzia says. YUP PUP comes in Tasty Bacon Treats, Peanut Butter Bites and Savory Salmon Snacks. For more information, click here.

Joseph Sequenzia and his family — including dogs Wally and Otto.

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Yesterday was Earth Day. But New England Kelp Harvest Week runs all the way through Sunday.

Local restaurants and shops from Greenwich to Westerly, Rhode Island are participating in the first-ever event celebrating our region’s most sustainable crop: sugar kelp.

Kelp requires no fertilizers or fresh water to grow, and absorbs carbon trapped in the sea. Westporters can support local farms and restaurants, and fight climate change — all in one meal.

Food and beverages featuring kelp are available at The Whelk, Kawa Ni, OKO, Don Memo and The Cottage. To experiment in your own kitchen, buy local dried kelp at Fjord Fish Market.

The festival’s Instagram account offers food and beverage ideas, and information about kelp. Click here for a list of all participating restaurants, breweries, cafes and shops. Click here for links to virtual events. (Hat tip: Craig D.B. Patton)

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Ospreys love Westport. But for years, the platform to the right of the Burying Hill Beach entrance road has been vacant. It’s been speculated that it is too low for ospreys’ tastes.

But at least one pair thinks it’s fine. The platform in the New Creek saltmarsh was busy yesterday, with new occupants building their nest.

Perhaps — like other newcomers to town — they realized that in a tight real estate market, sometimes you have to grab whatever property is available.

(Photo/Chris Swan)

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For decades, Walter and Naiad Einsel painted in their Victorian farmhouse, across from Greens Farms Elementary School. Two of Westport’s most noted artists, they documented their nearly 5-decade romance with clever “Art from the Heart” valentines.

Long ago, in 1947 — 6 years before they married – Walter painted Naiad’s portrait.

Bob and Karen Weingarten bought the painting in 2016. It hung in their Greens Farms home. Now they’ve donated it to the Westport Public Art Collections.

WestPAC works hang all over town. Perhaps this one is destined for Greens Farms El.

Naiad Einsel, painted by Walter Einsel (1947)

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Westport resident Anne Boberski recently completed a video project for the Housatonic Museum of Art.

Available online, “See, Think, Wonder: Bridgeport” includes four 25-minute video episodes and a printable Teacher Toolkit. It’s designed to support curriculum in grades 5-8. Students examine maps, seals, artifacts and architecture, meet community leaders, and learn that history is local.

The art museum is on the Housatonic Community College campus. But anyone can click here to see “See, Think, Wonder: Bridgeport.”

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And finally …  today in 1985, Coca-Cola changed its formula. The reaction to New Coke was swift, strong, and overwhelmingly negative. The original formula returned less than 3 months later.