Category Archives: Restaurants

Parker Harding Garbage: The Sequel

This morning’s post –showing garbage where the dumpster once sat in Parker Harding Plaza, just a few yards away from the finally-working compactor — drew plenty of comments from readers.

And this email from Scott Martin:

I own the Rye Ridge Deli. Someone sent me the pic of the garbage by the compactors.

That is a mix of garbage from various tenants there. A couple of those boxes are ours: the bacon, avocados and Rockland bakery.

I just spoke to a number of my employees who take garbage out at night and during the day. Last night, the compactors were completely filled and overflowing. Everything was stuffed in them to the top. They would not compact any more.

The mess this morning. The dumpster — across from the compactors — is no longer there.

Maybe they were a day late picking up due to the holiday. We are not sure. But when they come to remove the compactors it seems they cannot drive away with them overflowing so they knock it out, and when they return from the dump or wherever they take the trash they fill it back with what was knocked out.

There have been many occasions since the compactors have been installed with them not functioning at all. I guess the kinks are being worked out back there.

Going forward my guys have been instructed to let myself or a manager know when there is this sort of mess back there. Rather then leaving it for someone else to find, we can call City Carting to address it or figure out a better way rather than leaving that mess.

Those compactors are great, better than regular dumpsters, as long as they work (which is not always the case). I have been dealing with them for years in my other locations.

I just got off the phone with Scott. He apologizes for his guys leaving a mess. Nice to know he contacted “06880” to take responsibility.

As he notes though, only a small portion of the garbage is his. The hunt continues.

Meatball Shop Update: ImPortant News

Earlier today, “06880” reported that the Meatball Shop will open its 8th restaurant this spring in Westport.

The location has just been confirmed. They’ll be serving ‘balls in what was, most recently, The ‘Port. The family-style restaurant closed last June.

National Hall, when The ‘Port restaurant was there … (Photo/Dave Dellinger)

National Hall has seen a lot, since it was built in the early 1800s. It’s housed the Westporter Herald newspaper, Horace Staples’ bank (and, very briefly, the first classes of his high school).

It was the site of the town meeting hall, and — for many years — Fairfield Furniture.

In the early 1990s, Arthur Tauck saved the historic building from the wrecking ball. (After decades of pigeon droppings, the roof was ready to cave in.)

… and back in the day. (Photo/Peter Barlow)

He and his family converted National Hall into an inn and restaurant of the same name. Several other restaurants later occupied that prime ground floor space.

Now it’s ready for its next phase.

Arlo Guthrie once sang, “You can get anything you want, at Alice’s Restaurant.”

You can only get meatballs (of many kinds, for sure) at the Meatball Shop.

But — with Arezzo, OKO and Bartaco all just steps away, and David Waldman’s new project at the old Save the Children headquarters moving quickly along — the west bank of the Saugatuck River just got a little spicier.

National Hall: The view from Post Road West, even further back in the day.

Mmmm … That’s A Spicy Meatball!

If you’ve ever said, “Westport’s restaurant scene is okay, but what we really need is a meatball place” — your wish will soon come true.

Actually, it will happen even if you never said that.

The Meatball Shop opened on the Lower East Side in 2010. They added 5 more locations in New York, and last fall expanded to Washington, DC.

The Meatball shop, in Chelsea.

Now they’re coming here.

Actually, according to a Craiglist ad — looking for a manager — they are “bringing our Balls to Westport, CT this Spring!”

The ad does not say where. But it does say:

Our “ballers” are the most important part of The Meatball Shop family, and we are passionate about serving our guests simple, sustainable, and delicious food. We believe in creating a culture that promotes creativity and individuality within our communities. Our shops each have a unique energy & vibe about them, while staying true to our values and beliefs.

We are a hands-on team that trains our “ballers” in every aspect of food, service and culture. You’re not afraid to get your hands dirty and jump in wherever is needed, but most importantly you’re rock star, and confident at leading a team!

And finally: “Our ideal candidate will be a proven leader who is also not afraid of ball jokes!”

Because, as the final line says: “We are looking for candidate to start immediately. Do you have the balls?”

I could make a snarky comment here.

But I won’t. A few years ago, I wrote a book called We Kick Balls: True Stories From the Youth Soccer Wars.

A Meatball Shop meal to look forward to.

(Hat tip: David Meth)

Chef’s Table Returns To Westport! Cross Highway Rejoices.

When Christie’s Country Store closed in December, a shiver went through the Cross Highway neighborhood.

The breakfast/sandwich/grill/grocery place had been around since 1926. It served nearby residents, Staples and Bedford students, and plenty of landscapers and workers nearby or passing through.

But it was a non-conforming use, in a residential area. Now it was shut. These things don’t usually end well.

Fortunately, this one does.

Chef’s Table is moving in. Rich Herzfeld will pick up right where John Hooper left off.

It’s a homecoming of sorts. Herzfeld — the Culinary Institute of America-trained baker/chef, who honed his trade under Jean Yves Le Bris at La Gourmandise in Norwalk — set off on his own in 1995. He opened his first Chef’s Table at 44 Church Lane.

It was, Rich recalls, “like a small Hay Day.” High-end prepared foods and fresh salads drew a devoted downtown crowd. Two years later, Herzfeld added soups.

In 2001 he opened a 2nd Chef’s Table, on the Post Road in Fairfield. Two years later he added a 3rd, in the former Arcudi’s pizza restaurant next to  Carvel.

The 2007 market crash hit the 2 Westport locations hard. Suddenly, Rich says, everyone was brown-bagging lunch, or eating fast food. Corporate catering dried up.

The Fairfield site — with a broader demographic — did fine.

Rich sold the Church Lane spot to the Wild Pear. Arcudi’s returned to its original spot.

Wild Pear took over from Chef’s Table, on Church Lane. It closed in 2013. After extensive renovations, it is now the site of Aux Delices.

The 2 locations changed hands again. Today, both — coincidentally — are Aux Delices.

Meanwhile, Rich had asked commercial realtor (and Staples High School graduate) Tom Febbraio to keep an eye out for any place here that was already set up for a Chef’s Table-type operation.

Last year, John Hooper’s Christie’s lease was up. Tom told Rich. He was not only interested — he’d loved it for a long time.

“I knew Christie’s well,” Rich says. “It’s a great location. It has history. And the space is perfect for us.”

He’ll sell his signature soups, salads and sandwiches. A few years ago he got back into baking, so there will be plenty of croissants and baguettes.

Rich Herzfeld, with his delicious sourdough bread.

There’s a pizza oven in back — something the Fairfield Chef’s Table lacks — so Rich will make sourdough pizzas too. (The crust is great, he promises — “it takes 3 days to make!”)

The Fairfield location — not far from Fairfield University, Fairfield Ludlowe High and 2 middle schools — is “student-centric,” Rich says. His new Cross Highway spot is even closer, to Staples High and Bedford Middle Schools.

“I have a 21-year-old and a 14-year-old,” Rich notes. “I know what kids want.”

He plans to sell old-fashioned candy, ice cream — and items like milk, sugar and toilet paper, for neighbors who just need one or two quick items. And he would love to resurrect the Frosty Bear ice cream gazebo.

“We’ll be listening closely to what neighbors and customers want,” Rich says. “We’ll try to make it happen.”

Though Chef’s Table will operate from around 6 a.m. to 7 p.m., Rich predicts his bread-and-butter will be breakfasts and lunches. He’s especially excited to serve breakfasts — “good food, providing great energy” to folks working in the area.

Christie’s — with its handsome front porch — has always been a welcoming, neighborhood place.

The Cross Highway store will be overseen by Rich’s son David. Now 29, and the breakfast guru at the Fairfield spot, he grew up at Chef’s Table on Church Lane. When he was just 9, David was baking cookies — and selling them at a table there.

Rich hopes to open by April 1. (No fooling!)

And the name?

It will be “Chef’s Table at Christie’s Country Store.”

Rich knows the 93-year history of the spot he’s moving into. He loves the legacy.

He can’t wait to begin writing the next chapter.

(Hat tip: Suzannah Rogers)

Progress Report: The Old Bertucci’s Site

Last August 1, I reported that work was proceeding s-l-o-w-l-y  — yes, that was the technical term I used — at the former Bertucci’s property, on the Post Road near the Sherwood Island connector.

Now it’s exactly 6 months later. It’s still not finished. But the end is in sight.

Ignazio’s Pizza will — as noted previously — occupy part of the former Bertucci’s floor. This will be the 2nd location for the thin-crust restaurant. The original is in DUMBO — it is literally down underneath the Brooklyn Bridge.

An art and design firm will take up another part of that floor. That leaves about 2,100 square feet still available — which is why the “Building For Lease/Space Available” signs has Westporters wondering if Ignazio’s was just pie in the sky.

The view from the parking lot.

Not to worry. Steve Straus — of Fred Straus Inc., the Yonkers-based family real investment company — says that exterior work is done. When Ignazio’s finishes their interior work, they’ll open.

And, Straus says, there are “very good prospects” for the remaining first floor space.

Upstairs, there’s another 2,840 square feet of office space to rent.

Straus is proud of his company’s new landscaping, sidewalk, rain garden, facade, parking lot and lighting on the spot that many Westporters will long remember as Bertucci’s. (Older generations recall Tanglewoods. Real old-timers know it as the Clam Box.)

Straus says that the redevelopment of the property coincides with the construction of the office/retail/residential complex across the street, at the Post Road/Long Lots junction. He believes it will create a “village” environment in that part of town.

As for what’s going on clear across town, in the old Blu Parrot/Jasmine/Arrow property by the train station parking lot: Mystic Market announced they were moving in — back in November 2017.

When they’ll actually open is anyone’s guess.

Pic Of The Day #654

Sherwood Diner (Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)

Wave Down The Winfield Delimobile

Since replacing Art’s on Post Road West a couple of years ago, Winfield Street has made a name for itself as a legendary Italian deli. (The coffee is not too shabby either.)

But you don’t have to go there to enjoy the mouth-watering menu.

Owners Breno and Jeanette Donatti have just purchased a “Delimobile.” It’s their way of servicing their corporate clients, mostly in Westport but throughout Fairfield County too. (They serve breakfast and lunch, mainly for meetings and sales presentations.)

On weekends they cater family parties, graduations, birthdays, baptisms, grand openings, real estate showings, wedding receptions — and everything else.

Winfield Delimobile

I’m a big Winfield Deli fan. I know this sounds like a promo. But here’s the hook: When you see the Delimobile, honk and say hi. If it’s safe, the driver will hand you a $5 coupon — or a cup of coffee.

Mmmmm …. Mamma Mia!

PS: In more Winfield news, they’ve been selected to run the food stand for Westport Little League this year. They’ll serve a limited menu weekdays (5:30 to 8:30 p.m.) and Saturdays (8 a.m. to 8 p.m.).

What’s on the  menu? You can help! Click here to request your favorites.

8-30g Affordable Housing: More Proposals On The Way

For Westport, this has been a winter without much snow.

But a blizzard of 8-30g proposals continues to swirl all over town.

8-30g is the official name of Connecticut’s affordable housing statute. It mandates that municipalities make 10 percent of their housing stock “affordable” (according to a state formula). Though Westport has a variety of such units, many were built before 1990 — the date upon which the standards are based.

Which means that developers now eye all kinds of property. Incorporating 8-30g housing helps ease the legal path toward approval.

This week, a plan was submitted for 5 residential buildings on the Roger’s Septic Tank site at 1480 Post Road East. It includes 18 1-bedroom apartments, 14 more with 2 bedrooms — and would be 30% affordable housing, as defined by 8-30g. (Click here for the complete application.)

Roger’s Septic Tanks, Post Road East

The property — between the Rio Bravo/Julian’s Pizza strip mall, and a gas station — is a throwback to the days before the Post Road was greened and cleaned. Roger’s was there for decades; before that, it was Bob’s Welding.

Several years ago, a private agreement was reached between the owner of the commercial site and homeowners on Cottage Lane — which runs behind — stipulating that no housing could be built on the property. The agreement did not involve the town. A legal battle is sure to ensue.

Meanwhile, a couple of hundred yards east, there’s talk that several properties are being gathered together for at least one 8-30g proposal. These includes Redi-Cut Carpet, Innovation Luggage and Pane e Bene restaurant; houses behind it on George Street; the now-shuttered Sono Baking Company and adjacent A&J’s Farm Market, and the Westport Tennis Club behind it.

Those properties are not all contiguous, so there could be more than one proposal. No applications have yet been filed.

The former A&J Farm Market.

Next month, another proposal — much more concrete, in the works for far longer, and at the opposite end of Westport — comes (again) before the Planning & Zoning Commission.

Felix Charney will be back with yet another plan to construct 187 units on Hiawatha Lane. The narrow road is accessible by West Ferry Lane off Saugatuck Avenue, between I-95 exit 17 and the railroad station parking lot. The developer hopes to create a “medium density housing opportunity zone” there.

The P&Z is up to its eyeballs in 8-30g issues. Still on the docket: 20-26 South Morningside Drive (where discussions continue about the historic Walter and Naiad Einsel property), and on-again, off-again 81-unit Lincoln Street/Cross Street/Post Road West development (it’s back on).

The fate of 20-26 Morningside Drive South — on Walter and Naiad Einsel’s former property — remains in doubt. (Photo/Anna DeVito)

But wait! There’s more!

This week, a legal challenge was filed after the commission turned down an application for 122 Wilton Road. That’s the 1.16-acre parcel at 122 Wilton Road — at the Kings Highway North intersection, adjacent to the Taylortown Salt Marsh and wetlands. A developer wants to build a 19-unit, 3-story, 20,078-square foot rental complex there.

“Complex” is the right word, for all these proposals.

Though it’s easy to see why developers look at the 8-30g statute, and see a cash register.

And why they’re filing a blizzard of applications and lawsuits now. As of April — thanks to recent construction like 1177 Post Road East, opposite Greens Farms Elementary School — Westport may qualify for a 4-year moratorium on affordable housing proposals.

Like shoppers stocking up on bread and milk before a snowstorm, developers race to beat the clock.

Pietro Scotti’s Next Culinary Chapter

For 3 decades, Da Pietro’s has been one of Westport’s hidden culinary jewels.

The tiny spot on Riverside Avenue draws raves — and repeat visits — from everyone who knows it. They love the charming, intimate atmosphere; the feeling of being someplace special, and — especially — the consistently flavorful southern French and northern Italian dishes cooked by talented and welcoming chef/owner Pietro Scotti. (There’s a fantastic wine list too.)

Pietro Scotti

But a change is on the horizon. Pietro has put his building up for sale. When it’s bought, he’ll pack up his knives and turn off his stove.

Thankfully though, Pietro will keep cooking. He’ll be a private chef.

Pietro has loved serving the community. But it’s time, he says, to put all the other parts of running a restaurant — hiring and supervising a staff, paying bills, even sweeping the floor — behind.

Now, he’ll focus solely on cooking.

“Being a chef has always been my calling and my passion,” Pietro says. “My dream for this next chapter is to spoil a wonderful couple or family in the area.” He’s still looking for that position.

He’ll also be available for cooking classes, and pop-up dinners for favorite organizations.

Da Pietro’s (Photo/Katherine Bruan)

Pietro’s legacy extends throughout the community. For 30 years he’s cooked for the Girl Scouts, Wakeman Town Farm and the Blues, Views & BBQ Festival. He’s organized tastings at the Playhouse and A Taste of Westport, and raised funds for the Food Bank of Lower Fairfield County.

Pietro’s humble beginnings on the island of Ischia, in the Gulf of Naples, laid the foundation for his love of food, gardening and animals. He’s embraced Westport with his warm hospitality. His generous spirit, humble nature and constant energy will serve his private clients well.

It will take a while for his building to sell. Which means there is still time for Westporters to enjoy their 100th — or 1st — great meal at Da Pietro’s.

Friday Flashback #125

You may or may not miss the lack of snow so far this winter. (This weekend may change that.)

Odds are much better that you definitely miss the Red Barn.

The longtime, much-loved restaurant on Wilton Road near Merritt Parkway Exit 41 closed 3 1/2 years ago.

The Westport Weston Family Y now owns it. They have yet to decide what to do with the valuable building and property.

Whatever they do though, you won’t ever again see a scene like this:

(Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)