Tag Archives: Tutti’s Ristorante

Tutti’s: Here To Stay!

Tutti’s is not going anywhere.

The beloved family-owned Saugatuck restaurant celebrates its 20th anniversary this month. It should be a joyous time.

But a report on a local news site — headlined “With Hamlet Looming, Future Uncertain for Tutti’s Ristorante” — led to rumors of its imminent demise.

“People think we’re closing right after Christmas,” laments co-owner Maria Funicello.

“One person — a regular customer — was mad we hadn’t told him.”

They hadn’t told him, because it’s not true. Tutti’s is here for the long run.

Tutti’s owners Pasquale and Maria Funicello. They’re not going anywhere.

The Hamlet at Saugatuck — a hotel/residential/retail project in and around the train station — is still in its developmental stage. Any changes to the popular restaurant — on Riverside Avenue, at the “T” with Charles Street — are a ways off.

Maria’s history in Westport extends far beyond Tutti’s. Her husband Pasquale Funicello owned Angelina’s — for nearly a decade. His partners included his father, mother and 2 sisters. They sold the Post Road trattoria in 1981.

Pasquale and Maria had been married the year before. They moved back to their native Italy, and started a family. In 1989 the Funicellos and their children returned to the US.

She worked full-time. He made a name as a chef at memorable area restaurants, including Sole e Luna, Pinocchio, Arthur Avenue, Sunset Grille and Apulia.

In December 2002 the couple took a leap of faith, opening their own place, in a former video rental shop. Tutti Invitati soon became simply Tutti’s.

It was a great addition to Saugatuck — an homage to the neighborhood’s Italian heritage.

It still is.

The formula has not changed much. Diners — regulars and newcomers alike — are welcomed into the Funicellos’ home away from home. The space is just the right size. The décor is simple, yet warm.

And the food is delizioso.

Tutti’s Caprese salad — one of the menu’s many favorites.

The secret to Tutti’s success?

“We’re a family. And we treat customers like family,” Maria explains.

The other day, a customer celebrated his 90th birthday. The owners presented a complimentary bottle of wine,

They thank firefighters from the nearby station by feeding them regularly. When a homeless man walks in, they feed him too.

Customers return the love.

When COVID struck, Tutti’s did not miss a beat. Their already steady takeout business boomed.

During COVID, the Staples High School boys soccer program thanked police officers by buying them meals from Tutti’s. Above: 2020 soccer co-captain Jack Douglas, flanked by owner Maria Funicello and Officer Jimmy Sullivan.

“We were so busy,” Maria recalls. “People bought gift certificates they still haven’t redeemed. They handed us cash, and said, ‘Use it for whatever you need.’ They really weren’t our customers. They were like family.”

That’s why the recent rumors of Tutti’s’ demise hurt so much.

“They’re nice people. We’re working with them,” Maria says of the Hamlet developers.

“The Gault project (the previous Saugatuck redevelopment) looks great. I’m sure this one will be beautiful too.

“Whatever happens, happens. But it’s a long way away.”

Nothing is changing at Tutti’s. Certainly not the menu.

The pastas, other entrees, soups, salads, desserts and specials — like the ristorante itself, they’re not going anywhere.

“We’re settled. We know what we’re doing,” Maria says.

Tutti’s is always a Slice of Saugatuck favorite.

Tuesday was typical. At 3 p.m. — the slow, catch-your-breath time between lunch and dinner — several diners lingered. A construction worker picked up a meal to go. The phone chirped constantly, with takeout orders.

Through it al, Pasquale was in the back, cooking. Maria was out front — her usual warm, welcoming self.

Everyone was happy. Tutti’s was open for business.

And — as it celebrates its 20th anniversary — it still will be, for years to come.

Roundup: Chino Cortez, School, Drought & Lanternflies …

In December 2020, I posted an email from Katherine Calise.

After a big snowstorm, her trash collector — Chino Cortez of Cortez Refuse — had shoveled his own path to her cans.

“He is the kindest person — all around, the nicest person you could meet,” she wrote. “In the summer he sprays the garbage cans so you will not get sick.”

Others agreed. On social media they praised him for hauling away Christmas trees, making sure cans were safely stored in the wind, and texting customers if they forgot to put the trash out.

The other day, Katherine contacted me again. This time, it was about helping out with Chino’s medical bills.

At work earlier this month, a bungee cord snapped and hit his eye. His retina was severely damaged. He’ll have surgery soon, as doctors try to save his sight.

A grateful customer has organized a GoFundMe campaign. Click here for more information, and to help.

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It’s an annual tradition: On the first day of school, parents take photos of their kids at the Juniper Road/Caccamo Lane bus stop.

Here’s this year’s edition. Parents: Save for posterity. Kids: Don’t be embarrassed — decades from now, you’ll appreciate this.

PS: The little ones on both ends? They’ll be graduating before you know it.

(Photo/Pam Long)

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Speaking of school: The Porch @ Christie’s on Cross Highway is located close to 4 of them: Staples High, Bedford Middle, and Coleytown Middle and Elementary.

It’s also on the route for people heading into and out of Westport.

A good number of folks passing near, or by, are teachers. To celebrate a new school year, The Porch is offering free coffee and tea to all educators, now through September 9, with any purchase (6:30 to 9 a.m.) or salad, bowl, sandwich or grill item (3 to 5 p.m.). Just show your school ID.

What a great way to honor teachers. Owners Bill and Andrea Pecoriello have learned their customer service lessons well.

Free coffee or tea for teachers here.

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Speaking of local businesses that care:

On Sunday, Tutti’s Ristorante held a fundraiser for Jimmy Nuzzo. “DJ Jimmy James” — a friend to the owners (the Funicello family) and many others — needs a new heart and liver. 100% of the proceeds from the $25 penne-and-meatball dinner went to help.

Westporters, Norwalkers and others came through — big time. Tutti’s raised nearly $4,000 for Jimmy.

Maria Funicello asked me to thank the “06880” community. Consider it done — and thank you, Tutti’s, too!

Tutti’s owners Pasquale and Maria Funicello opened their restaurant (and hearts) to Jimmy Nuzzo.

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There are many new families on Ludlow Road, Wright Street and Orchard Lane recently.

So the neighborhood near Old Hill threw an old-fashioned block party on Sunday.

There was food and drinks. Adults chatted; kids romped. It was a great way to come together at the start of the school year.

One attendee suggested that every neighborhood with new families should do the same.

Or how about: Every neighborhood in Westport, with or without newcomers?

Send us your block party photos. Party on!

Seeking shade, and familiar and new faces.

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Weston is taking steps to address its drought.

Yesterday, residents received this message from 1st Selectwoman Samantha Nestor:

“I am reaching out to remind residents that Weston (and all of Fairfield County), have been experiencing Stage 2 drought conditions since mid-July due to below normal precipitation levels across Connecticut. Stage 2 identifies an emerging drought event that could potentially impact water supplies, agriculture, or natural ecosystems.

“Per Governor Lamont, ‘Residents should be mindful of their water consumption and take sensible steps to reduce impacts on other water uses and on the environment. We must begin early steps now to mitigate the potential for harm should the drought become prolonged.'”

Weston asks residents to voluntarily take measure to help reduce the impact of the drought conditions, including:

  • Reduce watering lawns, gardens, and other landscaped areas; if watering is essential, late evening hours are best
  • Avoid burning in or near woodlands or brush-lands
  • Take shorter showers
  • Run dishwashers and clothes washing machines with full loads
  • Shut off water while washing dishes, shaving, brushing teeth, and lathering up to wash hands, rather than running the water continuously
  • Avoid washing vehicles or power-washing homes and other buildings
  • Do not use water to clean sidewalks, driveways, and roads
  • Postpone planting new lawns or vegetation
  • Minimize overall water use by fixing leaky plumbing and fixtures
  • Follow any additional conservation requests

For more information from the Connecticut Drought Information Center, click here. (Hat tip: Gloria Gouveia)

Meanwhile, one more indication that Westport is in a drought too:

Near Levitt Pavilion. (Photo/Seth Schachter)

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Speaking of environmental threats, consider the spotted lanternfly.

It’s crossed Connecticut’s southwest border — that’s us — and could threaten businesses, nurseries and homeowners, causing billions of dollars in damage while devastating the landscape, in 2 years.

The SLF is a sap-feeding plant hopper native to China. It is believed to have entered this country as an egg mass stuck to a shipment of stone sent to Pennsylvania in 2012. Since then, that state’s agriculture, vineyards, forests, nurseries and residential areas have suffered serious damage.

The SLF started making its way into Connecticut last year. The state Agricultural Experiment Station issued a quarantine order. The hope is that the pest will be slowed long enough to find a treatment to control or eradicate it.

The beautiful-looking insect affects fruit trees, grapes, hops and ornamental trees. The nymphs (immature stage of the SLF) and adults feed on sap from trees and vines, causing them to weaken. Excretions from the SLF stick to the leaves; black sooty mold grows, reducing the plant’s ability to photosynthesize properly.  This reduce crop yields, and weaken trees and plants further, eventually destroying them.

Spotted lanternfly

It can also wreak havoc on lawn furniture, sidewalks, sides of buildings, car tires and everything else outside, making them a sticky mess.

The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station urges everyone to report any sightings.

If you spot an SLF, kill it right away. Report it here; include a photo if possible. (Hat tip: Susan Iseman)

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Jenni Kayne opened its 4th store last weekend. The location for the “California lifestyle brand” is Sconset Square.

It showcases the interiors arm of Jenni Kayne Home, with furniture set in “real-room environments,: and home accessories. The store also carries Jenni’s skincare line, Oak Essentials.

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“Westport … Naturally” returns to the theme of drought. Deadman Brook looked particularly low the other evening:

(Photo/Seth Schachter)

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And finally … in honor of back-to-school (and The Porch @ Christie’s celebration of teachers — see story above), here’s this long-forgotten Elton John classic.

Okay, the lyrics are not exactly a paean to a classroom education. But still …

Roundup: Tutti’s, Kugel, Newman & Redford …

A man with a big heart needs a new one.

And one of Westport’s most big-hearted restaurants is helping.

Jimmy Nuzzo — known to many as “DJ Jimmy Jams” — was born with a congenital heart defect. After open-heart surgery at age 7, he lived a healthy life for years. He owns Dance to the Music Entertainment, and is a loving husband and father.

Now he needs a new heart — and liver.

Jimmy Nuzzo (3rd from left), with his family.

On Sunday, August 28 (4 to 7 p.m.), Tutti’s on Riverside Avenue is offering a $25 penne with meatball dinner — large enough to feed 2 people. It’s to-go (and cash) only. 100% of the proceeds go to help Jimmy.

Mangia!

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Speaking of dining (though a different cuisine):

Chabad of Westport hosts “Kugel with a Twist” (September 7, 7 p.m.).

The Nosher editor Shannon Sarna Goldberg and Connecticut food blogger Liz Arronson Rueven will chat about modern takes on Jewish comfort food.

It’s free, and open to the community. However, attendees are asked to bring one kosher item (dried fruit, raisins, dates, nuts, tomato/spaghetti sauce, cereals, oatmeal, jelly, canned tuna, ketch, mustard, mayo, vegetable/corn oil) to stock Chabad’s mobile kosher food pantry, to arrive this fall.

Anyone donating $180 to held fight food insecurity will receive a signed copy of Sarna’s “Modern Jewish Comfort Food.”

Click here to register, and for more details.

Eat!

Kugel

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Longtime Westporters Carl Addison Swanson and his editor Jo Ann Miller have just published their 54th book,

It details Swanson’s experiences — some fictional — during his 1969 Vietnam tour. tour.

“365 Days and a Wake-up” is “not your normal war novel with blood, guts and gore,” Swanson says.

“I was watching ‘M*A*S*H,’ the movie, on late night TV, and remembered some of the humorous things, amidst the insanity, of events which occurred. I attempted to capture them.”

Swanson, known for his fast-paced, plot-driven narratives as well as his prolific publications, owns a Bermuda publishing house, and is a senior editor at a national magazine.

“365 Days” is available Labor Day. The hardback version follows in mid-October. Click here to order. Click here for Swanson’s website.

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Paul Newman has been in the news lately.

The actor/car racer/philanthropist died in 2008, but his life in Westport with Joanne Woodward is featured in the CNN/HBO film “The Last Movie Stars.”

Arthur Klausner sends along a recent Tweet that “stars” Newman’s friend, Robert Redford. In the clip from 1980, the former Weston resident recalls a long-running practical joke the two men played on each other, involving melted-own automobiles and their homes.

Arthur wonders how long the “garden sculpture” remained at Newman’s North Avenue home.

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The Levitt Pavilion has just added a new ticketed show.

Orebolo — featuring Rick Mitarotonda, Peter Anspach and Jeff Arevalo of Goose — take the stage on September 7 (7 p.m.).

The trio has built a national following nationwide. Formed during the initial COVID surge, they shared a home. They learned new covers, and explored Goose’s deep catalog acoustically.

Tickets are $15 (members) and $18 (non-members, plus a $2 facility fee). Member pre-sale is active now; public tickets are available Monday (August 22) at noon. Click here to order, and for more information.

Orebolo

In other Levitt news, an opening band has been added to this Sunday’s (August 21, 6:30 p.m.) Allison Russell ticketed show.

She hand-picked Bailen, after opening with them at the Edmonton Folk Fest. Children under 12 are free (with an adult in the BYO-lawn chair section).

As for Allison: she released a new single yesterday, featuring Brandi Carlile:

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Also this weekend: a pair of Friends of Sherwood Island State Park programs.

Tomorrow (August 20, 1:30 to 2:30 p.m.), 2 interns with a big net will set up on the beach across from the Nature Center. They’ll show how many creatures they can pull out of Long Island Sound.

On Sunday (August 21, 2 to 3:30 p.m.), butterfly expert Michele Sorensen will lead a walk. She’ll start at the Nature Center porch, then explore nearby gardens and dunes for a variety of species. Buckeyes, swallowtails, sulphurs, fritillaries, monarchs, skippers and pearl crescents are all possible. It’s suitable for ages 5 and up.

Click here for more information.

Monarch butterfly (Photo/Tammy Barry)

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Native Westporter and Pepperidge Farm manager Agnes “Aggie” Veno died peacefully last week, with her family by her side. She was 67.

Aggie was passionate about arts and crafts, and participated in craft fairs throughout Fairfield County. She was especially good at crocheting. She was also an excellent cook and baker, who enjoyed gatherings with her extended family.

She was an avid volunteer at St. Luke Church too.

She is survived by her mother Marie, sister Joann (Steve) Porch, godson Nicholas Vena, Jr., and many cousins, including Sadye Bella Bustillo, who had a special place in her heart. In addition to her father Andrew, she was predeceased by her brother, Andrew J. Veno, Jr.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be held today (Friday, August 19, 10 a.m., St. Luke Church). Interment will follow at Assumption Cemetery in Greens Farms.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in her memory to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, 501 St. Jude Place, Memphis, TN 38105. To send an online condolence, click here.

Aggie Veno

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One more rainbow photo from last night — this one perfect for “Westport … Naturally.”

Koda lives on Soundview Drive. But he’s a frequent visitor to Old Mill Grocery, around the corner.

(Photo/Karalyn Hood)

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And finally … in honor of last night’s beauty, enjoyed by Koda (and many “06880” photographers):

(To share a pot of gold — or just a few pennies — with “06880,” please click here. Support for this blog is greatly appreciated!)

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.

Photo Challenge #296

Last week’s two-fer Photo Challenge threw a few readers for a loop.

As the story said, “winners” (who get nothing except 15 minutes of Sunday afternoon glory) had to identify both photos — of plants and flowers hanging outside a couple of walls — correctly. (Click here to see.)

Most people identified the top photo as Pane e Bene, across from the Westport Inn. Fewer got the second one, another Italian restaurant in the other end of town: Tutti’s.

Congratulations to Rich Stein, Seth Braunstein, Amy Schneider and Claire Elliot for getting both images right. Buon appetito!

We’re back to one photo this week. If you know where in Westport you’d see this, click “Comments” below.

(Photo/Les Dinkin)

Staples Sports Teams Feed Front Line Personnel

As former president of Staples High School’s Gridiron Club and current treasurer of the Staples Boys Basketball Association, Amanda Thaw knows that whenever a Wrecker team needs help for a fundraiser, it turns to local restaurants and businesses.

They always come through.

Now, she thought, there must be a way to help support those owners in their time of need. And at the same time, to help front line personnel when they’re working so hard.

She made a few calls. Quickly, nearly a dozen Staples sports teams said “sign us up!”

#FeedItForward works this way: Teams pair up with a restaurant they choose. They provide a meal for a front line group of their choice. The restaurant delivers. The hungry personnel eat well. Everyone wins!

So far the girls soccer team fed Norwalk Hospital staffers, from Sherwood Diner. Boys soccer provided Tutti’s dinner to the Westport Police Department. The football team took care of the Westport Police Department, thanks to Viva Zapata. And boys lacrosse donated dinner to Westport EMS, through Colony Grill.

Girls soccer calls Norwalk Hospital staff “our heroes.”

Also committed: boys basketball, rugby, wrestling, boys track, boys volleyball, baseball and boys tennis.

Future food providers include Calise’s Market, Jr’s Deli & Grille, and Four Brothers Pizza. All are grateful for the business, and eager to help.

Boys soccer co-captain Jack Douglas, flanked by Tutti’s owner Maria Funicello and Officer Jimmy Sullivan.

ASF — the always-helpful sports store — is involved too. Norwalk Hospital staffers are on their feet all day. So they’ve been provided new socks — and chewing gum. (Their mouths get stale wearing masks).

Hot meals for the Fire Department, courtesy of Staples football and Viva Zapata.

There are plenty of other groups to feed too, like supermarket and pharmacy personnel, utility workers and others.

More teams can get involved — not just Staples, but throughout town. Other organizations can help as well.

For details, email amandathaw@gmail.com.

The boys lacrosse team hooks up Westport EMS.

Menu Moments: What To Eat At Tutti’s

If you haven’t been to Tutti’s, then you’re not a real Westporter.

There’s more than just great Italian food at this Saugatuck staple, steps from the train station.

As soon as you walk in, Tutti’s wants you to feel like you’re part of the family.

Tutti’s parking lot is filled during the Slice of Saugatuck. The restaurant is an important part of the neighborhood.

Which makes sense: It’s a family-run business. Owner and head chef Pasquale Funicello is responsible for Tutti’s homestyle cooking.

Pasquale was born in Salerno, and was introduced to the kitchen at age 10. He graduated from the Culinary Institute of Sorrento in 1972. He has been cooking delicious Italian meals in the Westport area almost since then.

Pasquale and his wife Maria — who  runs the front line with warmth and a smile — were the original owners of Angelina’s Trattoria in Westport, back in the 1980s.

Tutti’s owners Pasquale and Maria Funicello.

Tutti’s motto is “Good food, good friends” — and they live it daily.

Tutti’s happily accommodates special requests, and will make any entree gluten-free. They just want you to enjoy your meal.

Westport-based nutritionist Heather Bauer serves up her top healthy picks — of all types — below.

Heather’s Tips

Italian food is traditionally high in carbohydrates, so if you’re trying to lose weight it’s best to skip the bread, pizza and pasta dishes.

However, if you’re on maintenance you can add 1 to 2 slices of pizza, or share a pasta dish as your appetizer in addition to one of my recommendations below. Use this meal as your carb for the day, so avoid a carb serving at breakfast or lunch.

I also recommend avoiding creamy sauces, and choosing white wine or garlic- based sauces instead. Based on my eating plan, the red sauce will count as your carb, so choose piccata, cacciatore or marsala sauce.

However, if you want to have a little pasta and are in the weight loss phase, have pasta fagioli soup. It’s quite filling, and can satisfy your cravings.

One of the many delicious dishes at Tutti’s.

Appetizers 

  • Pasta fagioli soup
  • Small Caesar salad
    • This has an amazing homemade dressing, but request it on the side.
    • Keep the anchovies for an added boost of omega-3s.
  • House salad
    • If ordering for 1 person, choose the small size.
  • House salad with portobello and asparagus
    • Vegetarians: Order a large for your entree, and have the pasta fagioli or caprese as an appetizer.
  • Italian chopped salad

Appetizers to share:

Order your own house salad and share any of these:

  • Caprese
  • Cold antipasto
  • Prosciutto, red peppers and mozzarella
  • Prosciutto, artichoke and mozzarella

Tutti’s Caprese salad

Healthy Entrees

*For all entrees, request double veggies and skip the pasta

  • Any salad recommendation above can be ordered in the large size for entree. Add grilled chicken, grilled salmon (my favorite), grilled steak, shrimp or scallops.
    • Example: order the large Caesar salad with grilled salmon.
  • Chicken scallopini
    • The piccata style is a healthier option.
    • Order without butter.
  • Chicken parm
    • Order grilled and without breading.
  • Eggplant parmesan
    • Order grilled and without breading.
  • Grilled salmon with spinach
    • Request pesto sauce on the side.
  • Stuffed tomato (grilled chicken with veggies)
    • This is from the lunch menu; it’s more popular in the summer months.
  • Zuppa di Pesce
    • This is a filling entree that takes time to eat.

Side Veggies to Share:

  • Sauteed broccoli rabe
  • Sauteed spinach

Gluten-Free Options:
Any entree can be made gluten-free.

  • Pizza

Pic Of The Day #439

The beautiful garden at Tutti’s (Photo/Jaime Bairaktaris)

And The Pizza Winners Are…

Over 1,700 pizza lovers cast votes during last month’s Great Westport Pizza Contest.

Sponsored by the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce, 14 restaurants competed in 7 categories.

When the votes were tallied, you chose:

  • Best slice: Westport Pizzeria
  • Best plain pizza: Westport Pizzeria
  • Best meat pizza: Joe’s Pizza
  • Best gluten-free pizza:  Joe’s Pizza
  • Best veggie pizza: Tutti’s Ristorante
  • Best delivered pizza:  Jordan’s Restaurant
  • 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.

 

And The Best Chicken Parm In The State Is…

I usually don’t post “best of…” polls.

But this one is truly important.

USA Today — with the help of local experts CT Bites — is asking readers: Who makes the best chicken parm sandwich in Connecticut?

The winner could be right here in Westport.

Three of the 20 nominees serve that favorite dish right here.

Gaetano’s Deli, Tutti’s Ristorante and the Winfield Street Italian Deli (formerly Art’s) are all in the running.

Click here to vote. (NOTE: You can do it once a day, through April 10).

Mangia!

The Winfield Street Deli chicken parm.