Category Archives: Restaurants

Of Course, It’s Restaurant Week

There’s always something new on Westport’s dining plate.

Even during the pandemic, new restaurants opened all around town. Long time eateries adapted, tweaking menus, offering takeout, and rising to challenging times.

Now’s your chance to sample them all — old and new.

The Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce’s “Restaurant Week” starts today (Sunday, October 17).

Actually, that’s a misnomer. The event is 2 weeks — it runs all the way through October 31.

The Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce-sponsored event features 15 spots (one for each day of the promotion). They offer prix fixe meals, from one end to the other, with a variety of cuisines and price points.

Lunches begin at $20; dinners, $25. Brunch, from $25 up, is also offered at some locales.

California-Mediterranean fusion is on the menu at Capuli, in the former Westport Pizzeria Post Road East space.

This is a perfect chance to head to new spots. Then visit an older one you’ve always wanted to try.

And after that, hit up an old standby.

On November 1, you can head to the Y.

Participating restaurants:

  • 190 Main
  • Allium Eatery
  • Boathouse
  • Capuli
  • Gray Goose (pending)
  • Harvest
  • La Plage
  • Pane e bene
  • Rive Bistro
  • Rizzuto’s
  • Romanacci
  • Spotted Horse
  • Tarantino
  • Tutti’s
  • Via Sforza

For more details — including menus — click here

Photo Challenge #355

If you’ve been to Hudson Malone, you knew the answer to last Sunday’s Photo Challenge.

If you haven’t, you didn’t. (Which leads to: Why not?)

Doug Quinn’s popular restaurant at the corner of Main and Canal Streets has plenty of artwork. Much of it relates to Westport (including Paul Newman, who would have loved the place).

Then there’s a woman reclining on a wine bottle, underneath a cow’s head. (Click here to see.)

Jacqui Bidgood, James Weisz, Rachel Halperin-Zibelman, Robert Mitchell, Andrew Colabella, Phil Kann and Deirdre O’Farrelly all knew that both could be found on Hudson Malone’s outdoor patio.

This week’s Photo Challenge is semi-artistic — and semi-grungy. If you know where in Westport you’d see this, click “Comments” below.

(Photo/Molly Alger)

Roundup: De Tapas, Pink Floyd, Pumpkins …

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One of the earliest casualties of COVID was Chez 180.

The patisserie at 180 Post Road East had been open just a couple of weeks in March 2019. It earned rave reviews, but could not weather the sudden, total town shutdown.

Now — 19 months later — a new tenant is moving in. According to a sign on the door, it’s De Tapas: a “Spanish gastropub.” Details to follow soon.

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Adventure, music, sports and motorcycles — all star in the upcoming Remarkable Theater schedule.

Films at the Imperial Avenue drive-in include:

  • “Pirates of the Caribbean” (Saturday, October 16)
  • “The Last Waltz” (Monday, October 18)
  • “Slap Shot” (with Westport’s own Paul Newman: Tuesday, October 19)
  • “Easy Rider” (Wednesday, October 20)
  • “Pink Floyd: The Wall” (Saturday, October 23).

All shows begin at 6:30 p.m. Click here for tickets and more information.

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As the leaves turn, Earthplace welcomes families for fun events. They include:

Pumpkin carving and painting (Saturday, October 23, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. — click here to register)

Halloween stories and family campfire (Sunday, October 31, 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. — click here to register)

Bicycle repairs (while you wait: Friday, November 5, 12 to 3 p.m.).

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You should never drive while distracted.

Especially from tomorrow through October 31.

That when the Westport Police Department joins the state Department of Transportation’s “distracted driving enforcement campaign.”

They note that sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for 5 seconds. At 55 mph — the average speed on the Post Road, sometimes, ahem — that’s like driving the length of a football field with your eyes closed.

And did you know that driving while texting is 6 times more dangerous than intoxicated driving?

If you don’t care about that, consider this: Tickets for distracted driving are $200 for the first offense, $375 for the second, and $625 for all subsequent violations. 

Considering the consequences, that’s low.

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Bob Cooper reports vandalism at the Riverwalk downtown. He noticed a bench that was missing, except for one leg. The other leg, as well as its engraved seat, were in the water.

Fortunately, he says, the bench look reparable. It’s made from 3 piece, and each appears intact.

He also spotted engraved bricks that had been thrown into the brush:

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Yesterday’s Roundup note about the upcoming webinar on the impact of family violence on children (October 18, 7 p.m.) was missing a linkClick here to register.

The event is sponsored by the Westport Domestic Violence Task Force, Westport Human Services Department and Westport Library

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What’s better than shopping and cocktails?

How about shopping, cocktails and supporting breast cancer research?

Savvy + Grace’s fundraiser offers all that. The date is Thursday, October 28; the time is 5 to 7 p.m. (146 Main Street). Funds raised for the Cancer Couch Foundation will be matched 100%.

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Congratulations, Avi Kaner!

The former 2nd selectman and Board of Finance chair has been named to the Algemeiner’s list of “Top 100 People Positively Influencing Jewish Life 2021.”

His writeup calls the co-owner of the Morton Williams supermarket chain a “social media activist on behalf of Israel. When ice cream manufacturers Ben & Jerry’s announced in July that its products would no longer be sold to Jewish communities in the West Bank, Kaner went on the counteroffensive, securing agreement from the Morton Williams Board to reduce the Ben & Jerry’s products it sells in its 16 stores in New York and New Jersey by 70 percent.”

Avi Kaner

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Congratulations too to Lucy Dockter.

A Staples High School Inklings editor, and editor of the literary journal Soundings, was quoted at length in a Guardian story about the school surveillance tool Gaggle. The reporter found her through an Inklings editorial she wrote last year. Click here for the eye-opening Guardian article.

Talk about surveillance!

Lucy Dockter

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The outdoor fall fun celebration (with ’70s singalong) at the Unitarian Church in Westport, scheduled for this Saturday, has been moved to Sunday (October 17, 12 to 3 p.m.) due to predicted rain.

The event includes a musical mural, cake carousel, rock painting and bobbing for apples. For COVID safety, bring your own food.

Westport’s Unitarian Church

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The VFW is collecting new hats, scarves, mittens, gloves and socks, for men women and children.

There will be a drop-off box in the lobby (or patio, if closed) at their building (465 Riverside Avenue), from October 23 through November 20. They ask for only those items listed above.

VFW Joseph Clinton Post 399.

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Westporter Jim O’Donoghue died Sunday. He was 83 years old.

The Dublin native captained the rugby team at University College Cork. He earned a bachelor’ degree in electrical engineering there, and also met his wife Margaret.

Working for Quigley steel refractories, Jim travelled extensively, and brought his 3 daughters mementos from all over the world. The company was bought by Pfizer, and the family moved to Westport in 1984.

Jim ran regularly, golfed and rowed. He loved fishing, especially on Waterville Lake. He was a historian, a great conversationalist and a gripping storyteller. Dinner was punctuated with discussions on politics, as well as anecdotes about travel.

Jim wrote several books, including children’s stories, and read avidly. He was a fan of Russian classics and spy novels.

Jim is survived by Margaret, his wife of 58 years; daughters Elina (Dan), Sharon (Jack) and Lisa (Ilair); brother Neil; sister Anne, and grandchildren Ryan, Ciara, Maija and Sophie.

A viewing and farewell is set for Harding Funeral Home in Westport this Sunday (October 17, 3 to 6 pm). Mass will be held at St Luke Church also in Westport on October 18 (11 a.m.) The service will be live streamed (click here).

Jim O’Donoghue

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Fall is all about colorful leaves. But today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo takes us to Bonnie Brook Road, and a different kind of scene.

(Photo/Liz Blasko)

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And finally … Paddy Moloney died Monday in Dublin, at 83.

The New York Times called him “the playful but disciplined frontman and bagpiper of the Chieftains, a band that was at the forefront of the worldwide revival of traditional Irish music played with traditional instruments.”

They won 6 Grammys, and collaborated with everyone from Van Morrison, Mick Jagger and Paul McCartney to Luciano Pavarotti. Click here for the full obituary.

More Room At The Westport Inn

The Westport Inn has always been a weird part of Westport.

Built as a motel in the early 1960s to serve travelers on nearby I-95, it morphed into a slightly more upscale place — though hardly an “inn” — in recent years.

It was a place for guests to go when we didn’t want them in our homes, and where high school reunion-goers stayed. But there we never thought about the ballroom for banquets. We did not patronize its succession of restaurants, which opened and closed in dizzying fashion. It was in Westport, but it was never really of it.

If a longtime Westporter has his way, all that may change.

Jim Randel has practiced law here for 40 years. He’s also president of Rand Real Estate Services, which invests in underutilized properties in Connecticut and Florida.

His initial venture was the abandoned Factory Store by the East Norwalk train station. He turned it into the Factory Outlet Center, the first such urban development in the US. Rand real estate has done 40 or so projects since.

The 117-room Westport Inn is one of those properties.

Its most recent owner was Bridgewater. When Randel asked the hedge fund’s facilities manager if they’d sell, the answer was yes. The deal closed last November.

He’s now the lead partner in WI Associates. The other investors are also Westport residents. They were not sure what they’d do with the 3.8-acre property. But it’s a great location, and they knew they could be both creative and constructive with it.

After conversations with hospitality and housing experts, and neighbors, they had an idea. It’s not yet complete. But the outline is intriguing.

Working with the Greenwich Hospitality Group — owners of the Delamar hotels in Southport and Greenwich, and operators now of the Inn at Longshore and La Plage restaurant — they plan to take down the original, front building.

The 42 rooms in the rear building — built 25 or so years ago — would be upgraded. The ballroom would become a restaurant and conference areas. There would be outdoor seating and gardens. But 1 1/2 acres behind — a dedicated conservation area — would not be touched.

In addition, 16 to 18 units would be built, nearest the Willows Pediatric building. They would be unlike anything in Fairfield County: “condo-tels,” or condos with access to all hotel services, including concierge, housekeeping, room service, security, and the pool and fitness center.

At 1,700 to 1,900 square feet, Randel says they would appeal to empty nesters, Florida snowbirds, and people their older parents living nearby, among others.

To help meet Connecticut’s 8-30g housing regulation, the developers are targeting 20% of the condo units as “affordable.” They’ll do that by building 3 or 4 of them off-site. They’re looking at several potential options.

All of this is subject to zoning approval.

It’s also not a slam dunk economically. As Randel notes, COVID has rocked the hotel industry. But, he says, “if we provide quality hospitality, housing and a restaurant — at prices comparable to the Delamar, which has been successful even during the pandemic — we are very optimistic.”

The next step, says engineer Rick Redniss, is filing a text change application with Westport’s Planning & Zoning Commission, and conversations with neighbors.

 

Unsung Heroes #211

Betsy Kravitz writes:

The other night we took my father-in-law to Tutti’s, to celebrate his 96th birthday.

I got there early to put balloons and flowers on the table. When people saw “96,” they had a loto of questions. That number is not often celebrated.

I let the whole place (inside and out) know who it was for. When my father-in-law walked in, everyone broke out in applause and wished him a happy birthday.

It was such a touching moment for all of us. And, I think, for the restaurant patrons as well.

Tutti’s bought us a bottle of wine. Again the whole restaurant chimed in when we sang “Happy Birthday!’

My father-in-law was elated. He had the best time, thanks to the amazing people dining and celebrating at Tutti’s.

Thank you to everyone there, especially the owners (the Funicello family).

PS : The food was outstanding too!

Tutti’s owners Pasquale and Maria Funicello.

Roundup: Westoberfest, Poll Workers, Porch …

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Saturday’s “Westoberfest” has something for everyone.

The Westport Downtown Association event — set for all around Elm Street — includes road races (kids at noon, 10K at 12:30 p.m.); food, vendors, apples and pumpkin giveaways, pumpkin decorating, street magician and live music  (1 to 5 p.m.), beer tasting (2 to 5 p.m.), and an air-cooled classic vintage car expo (3:30 p.m.).

Advance tickets are $40 each, $75 for 2, special 10-pack for $350. Click here for tickets. They’re $50 each, if purchased at the event.

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Also on Saturday (and free): presentation of 5 murals at the Main Street entrance to Bedford Square.

Commissioned by the Westport Arts Advisory Committee, each represents a different aspect of life in Westport’s history. They start with indigenous people, and move across the wall to the future: Westport, circa 2070.

Artists include Westporter Eric Chiang, who exhibits locally and in his native Taiwan, and is a founding member of the Artist Collective of Westport; Westporter Jana Ireijo, founder of “Mural Ethos,” which creates vanishing murals to illustrate climate change; Staples and Pratt Institute graduate Rebecca Ross; Hernan Garcia from Norwalk, born in Colombia and trained in both architecture and fine arts; Bridgeport painter and Antigua native, poet, writer, actor and playwright Iyaba Ibo Mandingo.

“Westport: Circa 2070” (Rebecca Ross)

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Westporters go to the polls on November 2. But the polls need poll workers.

It’s a paying gig ($265 full day, $130 half day)– and important for democracy.

Jobs include checker, ballot monitor, tabulator/security monitor and floater. No experience needed. There’s a training session Saturday, October 23 (10 a.m. to 1 p.m.)

Also needed: setup (Monday, November 1, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.) and cleanup (Tuesday, November 2, 8 to 11 p.m.). Both pay $18 an hour.

Interested? Contact Maria Signore at the registrars of voters office: 203-341-1117; msignore@westportct.gov.

A familiar scene, year after year in Westport.

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As the weather cools, The Porch @ Christie’s rolls out its “The Porch Warms Our Hearts “ promotion.

It includes 2 soups a day (with quarts added soon), plus steel-cut oatmeal with 2 toppings, and hot chocolate.

There are heaters on the porch, with roll-down sides as needed. It’s even cozier indoors, with a fireplace.

Order ahead for quicker service. All items are available for delivery too. The Porch is open 7 days a week.

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What’s up — or down — with this flag?

It’s been flying like this for a few days, at the apartments near the Whelk and Saugatuck Sweets.

A mistake? A true distress signal? If so, for what?

Inquiring Westporters want to know.

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You’ve heard of a trunk show?

The Westport Artists Collective takes that term literally.

This Sunday (October 17, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.), they’ll sell affordable art from — actually — the trunks of their cars.

The site is the Taylor parking lot — near the lower level of the Westport Library. It’s a great place for affordable art (and seeing what some of our favorite local artists drive).

Susan Fehlinger, and her trunk art.

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Winslow Park Animal Hospital seldom misses a holiday. Here’s what the Post Road clinic’s front yard looks like now:

(Photo/Molly Alger)

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Sure, the Westport Young Woman’s League does wonderful, charitable work.

But members have a great social time too.

On Saturday, past president Lauren Bromberg hosted a “Rock ‘n’ Paint” party at her home. Guests shot paint from water guns to create art — while rocking out to ’90s tunes.

The WYWL plans a number of other casual gatherings this year, including fire pits, wine tastings, hikes, dog play date meet-ups at Compo, coffee chats, evening dinners and more. For more information, click here or follow on Instagram: @wywlwestport.

“Shooting” artwork at the Westport Young Woman’s League social,

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“Westport … Naturally” covers all creatures great and small. Ellen Wentworth sent this image, with the note: “He was on my car in the garage!”

(Photo/Ellen Wentworth)

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And finally … today in 1997, John Denver died while piloting a light plane. He was just 53 years old.

Pic Of The Day #1636

Dining at Don Memo (Photo/Katherine Bruan)

Roundup: Candidates, Chores, Irene Backalenick …

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A sure sign of fall: Our yards and traffic islands sprout dozens of signs for political candidates.

If you’d like to base your chose on more than placards, pencil in next Tuesday (October 12, noon, Westport Library and streaming). The Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce and Library team up for a debate between the candidates vying for 1st selectman and 2nd selectmen: Jen Tooker and Andrea Moore (Republicans), Jonathan Steinberg and Candi Savin (Democrats), and TJ Elgin and Louis D’Onofrio (independents). Chamber director Matthew Mandell will moderate.

Click here for in-person tickets, and more information. It’s available on Cablevision Channel 79, and will also be archived.

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Another sign of autumn: As leaves fall and Westporters prepare for winter, many senior citizens need help.

The Department of Human Services hopes that seniors (in high school) — and juniors, sophomores and freshmen, plus middle schoolers — can help.

The DHS is compiling a list of students willing to help with outdoor chores. The suggested rate is $12 an hour.

Students interested in helping seniors (and earning money) should call 203-341-1050, or email humansrv@westportct.gov. Seniors needing assistance should also call 203-341-1050.

Need help bagging leaves? Human Services have kids for hire.

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Irene Backalenick turned 100 in August.

The former New York Times theater critic celebrated by publishing 143 of her reviews of Broadway and Off-Broadway productions.

The collection spans the last 11 years of her career (2004 to 2015). Her final Broadway review was “Hamilton.”

Click here to order “In the Theater World.”

Irene Backalenick

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Caryl Beatus is one of “06880”‘s most avid readers — and frequent, insightful contributors.

She’s also a longtime golfer. Yesterday the Longshore Women’s Golf Association honored the founding (and 61-year) member, at the annual event named for her.

Caryl hit the ceremonial first shot. Fore!

Caryl Beatus was — as the golf cart says — Longshore’s “Queen for a Day.” (Photo/Mark Farrell)

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Bill Taibe is CRAzy.

Or at least, the owner of The Whelk, Don Memo and Kawa Ni is the 2021 Restaurateur of the Year, according to the Connecticut Restaurant Association. The organization — “CRA” — will present it’s “CRAzy Award” on December 6.

Taibe was chosen by a panel of more than 2 dozen food writers, critics, social media influencers and bloggers.

Meanwhile, the public can vote for other honors. Among the nominees: Taibe’s own Don Memo (Newcomer of the Year), and OKO (Restaurant of the Year, Fairfield and Litchfield Counties). Click here to see all nominations, and cast a ballot.

Bill Taibe

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For the second time this year, a Staples High School swim and dive team record fell.

The meet with Westhill came down to the final event. The 400 meter freestyle relay would determine the outcome. The Wreckers won in 4:10.46, earning the very tight 93-92 win.

The record-setting swim came from freshman Annam Olasewere. Her 26.15 time in the 50 meter free beat her previous record of 26.48, set just last week. She also won the 100 meter free.

The Wreckers are now 3-2. They’re in action next on Friday, vs. Greenwich (4 p.m., Staples).

Annam Olasewere (far left) earlier this month, with her 400 meter freestyle relay team (from left): Ayaan Olasewere , Ella Alpert, Jessica Qi,

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Susan Fehlinger is the Westport Book Shop’s guest artist this month. She’s an oil painter. The exhibit includes 12 coastal paintings. It’s open during business hours, at the popular used bookstore on Jesup Green.

Susan Fehlinger, at the Westport Book Shop.

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Halloween comes a day early to the Westport Country Playhouse.

The historic theater presents “Spectres and Spirits” — an original, 30-minute radio play – on October 30 (12 p.m., WSHU-FM).

It’s the work of frequent Playhouse collaborator (and macabre-minded) Richard R. Henry. John Gromada contributes clever sound design. To learn more and listen, click here.

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The other day, “Westport … Naturally” featured a monarch butterfly being eaten by a praying mantis.

Here’s one that lived:

(Photo/Tammy Barry)

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And finally … Long before Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and Jimmy Cliff, Millie Small put Jamaica on the musical map. She was born today in 1947. She died May 5, 2020, at 72.

Photo Challenge #353

There are few things more iconic in Westport than the Black Duck.

So when last week’s Photo Challenge showed hand-painted directional signs to 2 islands (Cockenoe and Long), and equally watery Key West, many “06880” knew where they can be found: the right side of our favorite dive bar. (Hey, that’s not me: Back in 2009, the Duck was a star attraction on the Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives“).

Elaine Marino, Derek Fuchs, Michael Calise, Robert Mitchell, Werner Liepolt, Tony Sousa, Andrew Colabella, Bobbie Herman, Lynn Untermeyer Miller, Juliana Sloane Fulbright and Seth Braunstein are all (presumably) regulars, who nailed Seth Schachter’s photo as easily as they navigate the old barge’s sloping floor. (Click here for the image.)

This week’s Photo Challenge is also water-related. If you know where in Westport you’d see this, click “Comments” below.

(Photo/Tracy Porosoff)

Unsung Hero #209

Longtime area resident Bobbie Herman writes:

I’d like to nominate someone as an Unsung Hero.

I don’t know who she is, and I don’t remember ever meeting her before. But she did something wonderful for me.

I was meeting a few friends for a picnic on Labor Day, and stopped into Gold’s for a couple of items. The bill came to almost $18

I reached into my bag for my wallet, and realized I left it home when I changed purses. I was extremely embarrassed, and asked the man behind the counter if I could bring the money the next day.

Suddenly the woman behind me held out her credit card and said, “I’ll pay for her.”

I asked her for her name and address so I could reimburse her, but she refused.  All she said was “Pay it forward.”

She told me her name was Maria, but nothing else. She was wearing a mask, so I doubt if I would recognize her if I saw her again.

I’d like to nominate Maria as a Unsung Hero, and express my undying gratitude.

Done, Bobbie! Thank you, Maria, for your generous act — and for inspiring all of us to “pay it forward.”

(Do you know an Unsung Hero? Email dwoog@optonline.net)