Category Archives: Restaurants

Coffee An’ … Moth Hole Repairs

Lisa Denaro is one of the many reasons to love Coffee An’.

The longtime waitress greets regulars and newcomers alike with a warm smile and great service.

She also sews their sweaters.

Lisa Denaro

One day, she noticed a moth hole on a very regular customer. Boldly, she told him she could fix it.

He took it off, and handed it over.

When Lisa gave it back a few days later, he was so impressed he urged her to start a business.

Darn It!

That’s the name she chose. Since then, she’s repaired moth holes for a number of Coffee An’ customers.

Lisa has found her niche. She does not do tailoring or seamstress work. Just moth hole repair.

Well, pet-sitting too. That’s another business: I Love ‘Em Like You Do.

But that’s another story entirely.

(For moth repair, call Lisa at 203-400-7589.)

Happy 102nd Birthday, Jean Wells!

On Thursday night, Alex Hyman dined out at Rive Bistro.

Jean Wells was there too. It was a special occasion: her 102nd birthday.

Jean moved to Westport around 1930. She’s shown here with her caregiver, Simone Neri.

(Photo/Alex Hyman)

Both look great. Alex notes, “Jean is as sharp and vibrant as any of us.”

Here’s to your health and happiness, Jean!

Chef Brian Lewis Flays Competition

There’s always something going on at Wakeman Town Farm.

Last night, for example, Tim’s Kitchen was the site of an intimate chefs’ dinner.

Brian Lewis — chef/owner of the wildly popular Cottage and OKO — hosted the event, as part of a sold-out series.

What the guests didn’t know is that one of the dishes on the menu — English pea sachetti with robiola cheese, lemon brown butter and sage crumbs — was the same one Lewis had cooked when he taped “Beat Bobby Flay.”

Brian Lewis, cooking last night at Wakeman Town Farm …

And the episode aired that very night.

So as guests enjoyed their great meal, the rest of America was watching Chef Lewis go head to head with Bobby Flay.

Dessert included viewing the competition on TV.

The icing on the cake: Lewis won!

… and on TV.

“06880” is pleased to pass on this very tasty tidbit.

(Hat tip: Christy Colasurdo)

“Scrappy” Says: The Military Needs Westporters. And Westporters Need The Military.

As graduation looms, Staples High School seniors have one foot in the only life they’ve ever known. The other edges tentatively into the unknown.

Most, however, head in the same direction: college. A few will take a gap year, or go to work. An even smaller number march toward a very un-Westport-like destination: the military.

One Staples grad wishes more would consider the armed forces.

“Scrappy” — his nickname, because he’s “a small dog who loves to fight” — graduated in 2004. He’s not using his real name, because of the sensitive nature of his work.

He thinks only 3 others from his class joined the military: one entered a military academy; one enlisted right after high school, another after college.

Scrappy took the path of “every Fairfield County kid”: he went to college, then worked at a hedge fund.

“It was the most miserable period of my life,” he says.

He searched for something more fulfilling. Air Force Special Operations fit the bill.

He trained for nearly 2 years. His first time back in Westport — after spending 10 months in 4 different states — he realized it was “different” than the rest of the country. His eyes had been open wide.

Yet Scrappy did not realize how different until another visit. He’d been in Libya — not far from Muammar Gaddafi when he was killed — and now sat at the Black Duck bar, with a friend.

They’d shaved their war beards. They looked not unlike the 2 guys sitting nearby, wearing polo shirts with the Bridgewater logo.

“They were talking about how hard their day was,” Scrappy says. “They’d had to endure 4 meetings!”

Years later, he still shakes his head at that image.

“They were able-bodied 25-year-olds. They could have done a lot more to save the world than short the price of copper.”

Scrappy feels he is doing his part. He’s been deployed 6 times — to Afghanistan, the Middle East, all over Africa. Much of his work has been in the intelligence community.

Everywhere, he meets someone from Fairfield County. They’re always surprised at which town he’s from. Very few Staples graduates do what he does.

Their unfamiliarity with the military shows when they ask things like, “Did you kill someone?” (“I’ve been trained to do heinous things,” he admits.)

Air Force Special Operations members serve in hot spots around the world.

They also assume he has PTSD. “That comes straight from the media,” Scrappy says. “But it’s like arguing with a 4-year-old. They can’t believe I’m fine.”

Westport’s disengagement from the military — and what the military does — hit Scrappy hard when he was with some old friends at a restaurant here. They had no idea our troops are still fighting — and dying — in Afghanistan.

“There’s no military base anywhere near here,” Scrappy notes. “Our taxes haven’t risen to fund war. Westport is a worldly town. But unless you know someone who serves, this is a part of American life that people here just don’t think about.”

Scrappy remembers that a previous Staples principal “hated” the military. She banned recruiters from campus, and discouraged students from applying to the service academies.

He believes the military needs members from this area. “Fifteen years from now, there won’t be enough people to fill our ranks. Between obesity, ADHD and drugs, there’s going to be a shortage of able bodies.”

Scrappy calls Fairfield County “a great breeding ground for the military. People here are healthy, intelligent and worldly.” Most members of Special Ops and the intelligence community have college degrees, he notes.

The intelligence community needs intelligent people.

His service has not been easy. Scrappy broke his back. He endured 13 surgeries. He’s deaf in one ear.

The last 10 years have been “the worst experience of my life — and the greatest.” He married a team member — a doctor he met on active duty in England. His combat search and rescue team saved over 120 lives. Their motto — “That Others May Live” — is ingrained in all that he does.

He’s helped rescue Americans — and Taliban and Al Qaeda members. “We try to kill them. But if they’re injured, we try to save them. We need to get intelligence from them too.”

Scrappy has traveled all over the world. He’s seen places few Americans ever go to. He has met “the coolest, greatest, most resilient” people in Somalia and Kenya. “Experiences like those change you dramatically.”

The military has taught him “stress inoculation.” He has learned how to keep his head in the most dangerous situations, engineer a solution, and push on.

“That’s the most valuable tool anyone can have,” Scrappy says. “It goes far beyond how to strip a weapon or jump out of a plane.”

Scrappy says that after being in a dozen firefights — and stabbed in close combat — he was scared only once.

It happened here. He went to Westport Pizzeria — and found it was gone.

Panicked, he called his mother. To his relief she told him it’s still here, around the corner on the Post Road.

Pic Of The Day #772

Classic Coffee An’ (Photo/Katherine Bruan)

New Coffee Spot Brewing At Old Bertucci’s

Westport is blessed with many things.

We have art and artists. We have pizzerias and coffee shops up the wazoo.

But we don’t have a “coffee bar” — a place that serves ultra-premium, USDA organic-certified roasts.

That changes soon.

Shearwater Organic Coffee Roasters — currently killing it in Fairfield — will open its 2nd location. The site is the long-empty Bertucci’s building, on Post Road East by Long Lots Road.

Shearwater will share the space with (of course) One River School of Art + Design, and Ignazio’s Pizza.

Owner Ed Freedman’s company started 6 years ago in Trumbull, as a small batch roaster. They supply stores like Whole Foods and Fresh Market, and restaurants including Jesup Hall, The Whelk and Kawa Ni.

Two years ago they opened in the Brick Walk. Freedman says that customers — many from Westport, attracted by the bright space, knowledgeable baristas and (of course) great coffee — urged him to open here.

As in Fairfield, the new Shearwater will feature drinks like espresso and cold brew, along with small plates and salads.

“It will be warm, inviting and friendly — a place for everyone from millennials to retirees to enjoy great coffee,” Freedman promises.

A rendering of the interior of Westport’s Shearwater, by architect Amber Freedman.

He is proud of his “top-notch” customer service. In Fairfield, he says, baristas “really welcome people. They engage them, and help them select the right drink.”

Freedman believes that many people “tolerate” Starbucks coffee. “They add all kinds of flavors and sugars. That’s not us.”

Floor to ceiling windows and high ceilings will help make Shearwater a “real destination.” Freedman’s daughter Amber — an architect in Boston — designed both his coffee bars.

The Westport spot will be a destination in part because of its location near the Sherwood Island Connector, Freedman says.

He hopes to open in July. Ignazio’s hopes to open next month. River One’s grand opening is June 15-16.

There is still space for one tenant in the building.

Maybe a bank or nail spa?

Pokeworks Adds Flavor To Compo Acres

McDonald’s is closed for renovations.

But a much more flavorful and interesting fast food place just opened in Compo Acres Shopping Center.

Pokéworks is the newest addition to Westport’s fast-casual culinary scene. It’s also the first to serve Hawaiian-inspired cuisine here.

Poké today is based on Hawaii’s variety of cultures, though it dates back to Polynesian times.  It features pungent sauces, crunchy toppings, and bases like rice, lettuce and kale noodles. The key to most poké is fresh, raw fish.

In Hawaii the dish is a mainstay of social gatherings, as a side or appetizer. Instead of deli counters, Hawaiian grocery stores have poké counters.

Welcome to Pokeworks.

Pokéworks — which sits between Compo Farm Flowers and Jersey Mike’s, not far from Trader Joe’s (where the staff, coincidentally, wears Hawaiian shirts) — offers an array of choose-your-own proteins (ahi and albacore tuna, salmon, shrimp, scallops, organic tofu and chicken), plus mix-ins including edamame, seaweed, shiso and mangoes; flavors like umami shoyu, wasabi aioli and spicy ginger; toppings (furikake, surimi salad, thai chicken) and “crunch” like roasted macadamia nuts.

Pokéworks is a rapidly expanding national chain. They’re in 23 states — but this is only the second location in Connecticut (the first was in Wilton).

The company website says that all seafood is sustainably and responsibly sourced.

I tried Pokéworks today. Ordering was fun. The food was certainly flavorful. It blows McDonald’s out of the water.

But it’s not 100% Hawaiian. No shave ice, unfortunately.

Friday Flashback #143

Years ago, the Bridge Street Bridge was renamed to honor William F. Cribari.

“Crobar” spent many years as the ever-smiling, often-dancing, always-vigilant traffic cop at the intersection of Bridge Street and Riverside Avenue.

But that was not his only post.

He was equally effective — though with less choreography — at the heavily trafficked Post Road/Main Street crossing.

This was a typical scene around 1985. Ships restaurant (now Tiffany) drew a steady crowd. So did the rest of downtown.

But Crobar was clearly in charge.

(Photo/Al Bravin)

Headstand For WestPAC

Westporters know Larry Silver for his iconic images of “The Jogger” and “Beach Showers” — photographs taken at Longshore and Compo Beach, respectively.

But to the rest of the world, his most iconic image is “Headstand.”

Silver — a longtime resident whose works have been shown around the globe — took that shot in 1954 as part of a series in Muscle Beach, California.

Years later, the International Center for Photography featured those photos. The rest is history.

“Headstand” hangs in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum, the RISD Museum, and the Getty Museum, among many others. It’s been shown around the globe.

“Headstand” (Photo/Larry Silver)

History will be made again on Wednesday, June 12.

Friends of WestPAC — the Westport Public Art Collections — holds its annual fundraiser at Rive Bistro (7 p.m.). “Headstand” is one of the world-class pieces in the auction. It’s the first time Silver has donated the photo anywhere.

He’s been urged for years to show the piece here. He was reluctant, claiming it’s not an image of Westport. Finally — thanks to WestPAC — he feels comfortable doing so.

You can bid on many wonderful works at the WestPAC event (and enjoy great food and more, too).

But only “Headstand” will have you doing backflips.

(For tickets and more information about the June 12 WestPAC fundraiser, click here.)

Pic Of The Day #758

Great idea from Donut Crazy (Photo/Dan Woog)