Only a few people can watch NFL games in person. You haven’t been to a concert in longer than it takes to conceive and deliver a baby.
But anyone could have gone around town, checked out holiday window decorations, and voted for their favorites.
In fact, many people did.
Yesterday, the Westport Downtown Merchants Association and Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce announced the winners of the annual contest. This year for the first time, it encompassed the entire town.
And the winners are…:
Mom and Pop Shop:The Plumed Serpent Bridal
Plumed Serpent Bridal
National chain: Anthropologie
Non-retail:Artistex Salon & Spa
Artistex Spa & Salon
And the grand prize — for the window with the most total votes:The Plumed Serpent Bridal.
They win dinner for 4 at Don Memo.
Click here for a list of all participating venues. Voting in closed — but you can still enjoy them!
Best personal pizza: Rizzuto’s Restaurant and Toscano Pizzeria (tie)
Honorable mention: Romanacci Pizza Bar and Planet Pizza lost by only 2 votes in the “Best personal pizza” and “Best delivered pizza” categories, respectively.
Mel Mioli’s Westport Pizzeria may have moved to the Post Road, after 45 years on Main Street. But it’s still a Westport favorite.
The victors did not get any dough — just the satisfaction of coming out on top (and free publicity).
Any way you slice it, the Great Westport Pizza Contest was a winner.
March was Westport Pizza Month. That’s not just an idea — it was an official proclamation from 1st Selectman Jim Marpe (2nd from left). Joining him were (from left) Westport Chamber of Commerce director Matthew Mandell; Ira Bloom of event sponsors Bercham Moses, and Joe Canicatti, owner of double winner Joe’s Pizza.
The good news: The day after it happens — later this month — the legendary, much-loved restaurant will re-open around the corner.
The new location — 143 Post Road East — was most recently the site of EATalia. It’s got great Italian bones: Before that, it was Joe’s Pizza. Even earlier, it was the bizarrely named S&M Pizza.
Westport Pizzeria owner Mel Mioli. His shirt says, “Serving generations with kindness and love since 1968!”
Owner Mel Mioli says his landlord — Malkin Property — sent him a non-renewal notice around January 1. Earlier, Mel says, Malkin offered him a 5-year lease if Kate Spade — 2 doors down — did not rent the entire building. But that didn’t happen, Mel says. Then the landlord stopped answering letters, emails and phone calls.
Now Mel is out. So is Kate Spade. And — in between them — Francois DuPont Jewelers.
At first, Mel says, he was sad. After nearly half a century on Main Street, the pizzeria he and his brother Joe founded has become a Westport institution. Customers became friends — and he’s watched their children, and now grandchildren, grow up.
But a couple of years ago, Mel bought the 143 Post Road East property — just in case something like this happened.
Now, that’s a hot location. Just a few steps away are a host of restaurants: Post 154. Finalmente. La Villa. Blue Lemon.
A familiar scene, for 45 years. The backs of the shirts say “A true slice of Westport.”
Westport Pizzeria’s new space is a lot larger than the beloved — but very narrow — Main Street site. Mel is renovating the Post Road property, making it bright and welcoming.
He’ll add a few dishes to the menu. Plus — grazie! — beer and wine.
Mel’s initial sadness has turned to excitement.
“I’m very, very happy,” he says. “We’ll take care of old customers better than before, and I know we’ll make new ones.”
The other day, he walked past his new Westport Pizzeria. The sidewalk was packed with pedestrians. “I can’t wait to open,” Mel says.
So will he stay another 45 years on Post Road East?
“At least!” Mel promises.
At the end of the month, this will be just another Main Street memory.
Throughout Coleytown El and Middle School, then Staples, Jon Camche and Rick Snyder were best friends. Both even attend Miami universities — though Jon’s is in Florida, and Rick’s in Ohio.
As Staples juniors in 2010, they talked about opening their own business. But what kind? When they saw a card at Joe’s Pizza advertising an ice cream truck, their problem was licked.
The guy with the card — Jim Malin — had a 2nd vehicle to rent. A converted 1964 milk truck that plays “Old MacDonald,” “Twinkle, Twinkle” and (of course, because they do parties) “Happy Birthday,” the yellow ice cream wagon is in its 2nd summer as a Westport fixture.
Rick Snyder (left) and Jon Camche, with their cool yellow truck.
“Everybody Scream Ice Cream” does house calls, cookouts, corporate events — any event, anywhere in Fairfield County. Westport has strict vending rules, so the old Good Humor man driving up and down the street tinkling his bell has gone the way of, well, the milkman.
Of course, Good Humor men never had Facebook pages. Jon and Rick do.
But you can only market so much on the internet. In the ice cream world, you’ve got to deliver.
The 19-year-olds generally work from 2 p.m. until 5 or so. They have dinner, then hit prime time: 6:30 to 8:30. “It’s still light, the kids are out, they’re ready for dessert — it’s great ice cream weather,” Jon explains.
Just another hard day at work.
Jon and Rick have learned the popular places: camp bus stops like the Unitarian Church (Holiday Hills) and St. Luke’s (Playland).
Joey’s by the Shore has the beach license, and the Levitt Pavilion is also off limits. But Little League fields are fine, as long as the truck has been hired by parents.
The truck is certainly a draw — even at unexpected places. The guys ran out of gas recently on the Post Road, to the delight of a few unexpected customers.
The most popular products are Chipwich, SpongeBob Squarepants Popsicles and Choco Tacos. But, Jon notes, little kids eat just about any kind of ice cream.
Big kids too.
(To hire Everybody Scream Ice Cream, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 203-246-1481.)
Soon, we’ll join Norwalk with the opportunity to buy lemon lime pie. Tiramisu pie. Twisted citrus blackberry pie. Maple pumpkin pie with a pecan streusel. Caramel pecan chocolate pie.
Also chicken pot pies. And Australian beef pies.
Not to mention handmade cookies, tea breads, pastries, cheesecakes, muffins, coffee, cappucino and espresso.
Our long national downtown nightmare is over.
Owner Michele Albano uses only fresh seasonal fruit — nothing canned or frozen. Even the pumpkins are puréed by her staff.
Michele’s grandmother taught her to bake. Her creations remind people of their own grandmothers’ pies. At least, that’s what the website says — and would a pie-baker lie?
In high school Michele sold her pies locally. She founded her business in her Killington condo in 2006. Her pies quickly earned a following at farmer’s markets and craft shows in Vermont and Fairfield County.
Michele's pies won 7 (count 'em!) 1st prize ribbons at the National Pie Championship.
In 2007 Michele competed in her first National Pie Championship. She won 1st prize in the coveted “commercial nut” category, for her chocolate pecan bourbon pie.
When demand outgrew her Killington kitchen, she headed to the big city: Norwalk. Her Main Avenue location was an instant hit — but Michele did not grow too big for her toque. She was there every day behind the counter, serving customers.
She began selling to local outlets — Oscar’s is a customer — but now she’s ready to expand to a Westport location.
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