Category Archives: Restaurants

Slice Of Saugatuck Returns September 9

Saugatuck keeps growing. Every day, it seems, there’s something new and exciting in what was once our original town center.

There are new restaurants and stores. There’s new life and activity (like “Tuesdays at the Train”).

And — on Saturday, September 9 — new businesses will participate in the Slice of Saugatuck.

From Bridge Square to Railroad Place — and everywhere else — Slice of Saugatuck is packed. (Photo/Terry Cosgrave)

Six years ago, the 1st street festival drew 27 participants, and a few hundred people.

This time, 54 establishments have signed on. A crowd of more than 2,000 is expected to stroll the streets, nibble food, listen to live music at 6 venues, and enjoy kid and family activities like an obstacle course, bouncy houses and Maker Faire area.

The list of attractions includes 31 restaurants and 23 merchants. They’ll put tables outside, open their doors, then let the fun begin.

Slice of Saugatuck also boasts 2 beer gardens with wine), and specialty drinks at many venues. After the festival, a Saugatuck Happy Hour keeps the celebration going.

The “Slice” name comes from the street fair’s shape. Ranging from Riverside Avenue on one side and Saugatuck Avenue on the other, narrowing to Railroad Place, it resembles a pizza slice.

Of course, for many years Saugatuck was a heavily Italian neighborhood. There are still plenty of premier pasta-and-pizza places there — along with restaurants specializing in seafood, steaks, Mexican and Thai cuisine and more.

But you know that already. Saugatuck is a favorite destination for Westporters, and everyone else in Fairfield County.

It’s a little slice of heaven, right here in town.

(Tickets for the Slice of Saugatuck — $15 per adult; 2 for $25; children under 13, $5 — go on sale on-site at 1:50 p.m. the day of the event; cash only. Proceeds help fund the Gillespie Center’s food pantry. The Slice is sponsored by the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce. For more information, including a map and list of participants, click here.)

 

Ladies Sing The Blues

When Beth Iovinelli belted out a song at last year’s Blues, Views & BBQ Festival, she basked in thunderous applause.

Then — referring to the Levitt Pavilion stage, site of the sold-out 2-day event — she asked her friend Suzy Bessett, “Notice anything missing?”

She meant: Any other woman.

Iovinelli was the only female singer the entire weekend.

The blues boasts plenty of legendary ladies — think Etta James, Big Mama Thornton and Janis Joplin. But over the years, bands have become male-dominated.

This year, Bessett and Iovinelli take one small step for (wo)mankind.

The 10th annual event (September 2-3) will include a rock-the-house show by the Sisterhood Blues Project. They’re set for Sunday (September 3, 12:30 p.m.).

Sisterhood Blues Project (from left): Beth Iovinelli, Betsy Benham Fruda and Suzy Bessett.

On a weekend filled with powerhouse performers — Galactic, Deep Banana Blackout, Bonerama, Paul Barrere & Fred Tackett, and the return of Anders Osborne — this is one you don’t want to miss.

The 3 “soul sistahs” grew up in Norwalk. Bessett — who organized the group — began singing as soon as she could talk. But she stopped when real life — an investment banking career, marriage, kids, a move to Westport — intervened.

Eventually, the lure of karaoke proved powerful. Then in 2009, she joined Ms. Suzy’s Opus. For years, they — with Bessett fronting — were a popular fixture on the local scene.

Bobby Q’s rooftop was a favorite venue. That Main Street restaurant/bar has moved to Norwalk, but the blues festival it spawned is still here.

Ever since the new Levitt opened 3 years ago, Bessett dreamed of singing on its stage. When Iovinelli noted last year that she was the only female singer at the festival, Bessett asked Blues, Views & BBQ founder Bobby LeRose about a celebration of women musicians. He instantly agreed.

Bessett recruited Iovinelli and Fruda. Both spent over a decade with the Third Sister Band, opening for GE Smith, Rick Derringer and Murali Coryell. They currently front the B Side Band.

The new group weaves together powerful vocals, harmony, soulful blues — and of course, sisterhood.

They’ll be backed by some strong brothers. Westporter Crispin Cioe played sax with the Rolling Stones. Westport native Tim DeHuff is a renowned guitarist. Drummer Vito Liuzzi played with the Johnny Winter Band. John Mulkerin is on horns; Mike Ventimiglia (Pimpinella) plays keyboard, while bassist Scott Spray has performed with Johnny and Edgar Winter, Eric Clapton and Joe Walsh.

They’re still working on a set list. But, Bessett says, they will probably perform at least one song from one of the great female blues singers.

The sisterhood lives.

(For more information on the Blues, Views & BBQ Festival — including musical lineup, food, activities for kids, tickets and more — click here.)

Summer Soiree At Pearl To Benefit 1st Responders

Westport is blessed with amazing police officers, firefighters and EMS crews.

We often say, “We can’t thank them enough.”

Here’s a way to start.

Next Saturday (September 2, 7 to 10 p.m.), Pearl at Longshore is hosting a Summer Soiree Party on its patio. With partners Valor Spirits and The Greatest Blaze, they’re donating proceeds from ticket sales to those 3 first responder departments in Westport and Fairfield.

The Greatest Blaze is an aptly named Greenwich lifestyle and premium firewood company. Valor Spirits has a long history of donating 10% of all proceeds to organizations that serve Americans.

Tickets ($75 per person, discounts for groups of 6 or more) include hors d’oeuvres, cocktails, music, raffle prizes and an auction. Click here to purchase, and for more information.

The Pearl of Longshore patio is a perfect place to honor first responders..

Pasta Place Goes; Pizza Bar Comes

Pasta lovers said grazie when Grana Pastificio opened in a corner of Winfield Street Coffee, across from the train station.

In a rapidly changing town, the old-world, fresh pasta place seemed a throwback to Saugatuck’s Italian roots.

After only a year, the Grana guys moved out.

There’s a good reason: They now serve 15 restaurants, and make 250 pounds of pasta a day. They needed a bigger facility. (You can still order online, and pick up your order at Winfield’s coffee shop.)

The space will not be empty for long. The new tenant should also be welcomed by old Saugatuck hands — as well as anyone else who loves good Italian food.

Graziano and Maurizio Ricci — owners of 2 Romanacci Pizza Bar restaurants (in Norwalk and Trumbull), and 2 Osteria Romanas (Norwalk and Monroe) — have wanted to open a Westport location for years.

This new spot will be a Romanacci. It will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner. In the morning, a “breakfast pizza” will complement Winfield’s coffee.

The brothers are finalizing their permits now. They hope to be ready around Labor Day.

Winfield owner Breno Donatti says, “They’re cool guys. They know what they’re doing. I’m happy to share the space with them.”

Commuters, Saugatuck residents, and all the rest of us should be happy he’s sharing the space too.

Pic Of The Day #123

A classic Joey’s by the Shore scene (Photo/Betsy P. Kahn)

Friday Flashback #53

In 1979 2009 — as her 30th Staples High School reunion neared — Peggy Lehn made this collage:

Now — 8 years later — she dug it out of her garage, and sent it along.

Click on or hover over to enlarge. If you were in Westport then: How many of these places and things do you remember? Westport Pizzeria and Liberty Army Navy seem to be the only 2 stores still around.

If you were not here: What are you most curious about? I’m guessing the Minnybuses — and the bizarrely named S&M Pizza. (Trust me, nothing crazy went on there.)

Click “Comments” below to share memories — or ask questions.

From Cottage To Firehouse

When it was the Vigilant Hose Company, the firehouse next to National Hall was where firefighters worked, lived — and cooked meals.

After the fire station closed, De Rosa’s Brick Oven Pizza moved in. Later it was the site of Neat — a coffee spot by day, wine and cocktail bar at night.

Soon, the Wilton Road landmark will become Brian Lewis’ latest creation.

The Vigilant Firehouse on Wilton Road, circa 1977.

The chef/owner of The Cottage — the much-heralded New American restaurant in Colonial Green — will open a Japanese restaurant there this fall. The yet-to-be-named place adds to the burgeoning West Bank culinary scene, which already includes Bartaco and The ‘Port.

The menu is “Izakaya meets Omakase.”

Brian Lewis

Lewis and his Cottage architect will work together again. They hope to bring out the original character of the historic building, while melding Japanese cooking with an American chef’s vision.

This past spring, Lewis tested a weekday menu at the Cottage. It was an instant hit.

He soon added a sake program, plus new cocktails. That spurred him and general manager Charlie Gihuly to search for a suitable place with history and “great bones.”

They found it — in a spot with a culinary past they look forward to building upon.

PS: If you’re wondering: Izakaya means “informal Japanese gastropub.” And “omakase” is “chef’s choice.”

Pic Of The Day #116

Sherwood Diner still life (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

Friday Flashback #52

Today, the Friday Flashback turns 1 year old.

Since last summer, we’ve featured some fascinating photos of Westport’s past: The sanitarium. The Compo Beach bathhouses. Gorham Island. Ray the Good Humor Man.

To celebrate this anniversary, I wanted something truly iconic.

The cannons? Minute Man? Remarkable Book Shop? Big Top?

Nah. They’ve all been featured many times on “06880.”

The Minnybuses? Arnie’s Place? A bit too narrow.

Suddenly, it hit me. For generations of kids of all ages, nothing said “Westport” like the Ice Cream Parlor.

The final location, on the Post Road.

In 3 locations — Main Street, Compo Shopping Center, and finally the Post Road (opposite what is now Qdoba) — the Ice Cream Parlor served up a lot more than sundaes, wax candy and a Pig’s Trough.

It served up memories.

Mine are of wrought-iron chairs, more ice cream flavors than Howard Johnson’s, and jars filled with candy.

What are yours? Click “Comments” below.

An Ice Cream Parlor menu, signed by famous people who had been there.

Matt Storch’s Burgers And Lobster Come To Saugatuck

Matt Storch — the 1995 Staples High School grad who has made a name for himself with restaurants like Match — is coming home.

He’s opening Match Burger Lobster, next to Fleishers Craft Butchery on Riverside Avenue.

Matt Storch, and his new logo. (Collage courtesy of CTBites.com)

According to CT Bites, the new restaurant features fresh seafood from Norm Bloom and Son, and “Northeast pasture-raised and humanely-handled beef, ground daily at Fleishers.”

The menu includes lobster rolls, whole lobsters, a variety of burgers, local Copps Island oysters, Fleishers hot dogs, onion rings, donut milk shakes, wine and beer.

Storch’s “Match Burger” is be available in regular and mini versions — plus one that’s butter-dipped.

Fans of the butcher shop and restaurant can walk easily back and forth. Match Burger and Lobster will offer both table service and takeout.