Accentuate the Positive

The editor of The Litchfield County Times, a 2010 SNA Newspaper of the Year, the national award-winning glossy magazine Passport and other publications, celebrates the best of what Northwest Connecticut and beyond has to offer.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Faith in the Local Culinary Economy

Note: The following is an essay I wrote for a magazine called Epicurean Delights, which is being published May 27 by The Litchfield County Times ( It's meant to highlight the culinary gems in Greater Litchfield County, Conn., and all the experiences described below are worth seeking out. If proof is needed, just take a look at this sea bass entree at one of the hottest restaurants in the region, Chef Joel Viehland's Community table in Washington, Conn.

One of the best series on National Public Radio in recent years was the revival of “This I Believe,” based on the 1950s radio program hosted by the legendary Edward R. Murrow that featured ordinary Americans sharing the core values and personal philosophies that guide their daily lives.

With a bit of imagination, the approach can be applied to the dining scene in the region, interpreting the things one believes in through the prism of experiences that have been treasured, and desires awaiting to be fulfilled or satisfied again.

So, without further introduction, here’s a culinary laundry list of things I believe in, with the caveat that there are too many to mention and the lack of inclusion here does not signify any implicit judgment.

• Sitting at the sidewalk café of the West Street Grill in Litchfield on a warm summer evening with my beautiful wife, enjoying the lighter fare of chef Jimmy Cosgriff and a fine white Burgundy (; 860-567-3885).

• Trying all the new menu items at chef Carole Peck’s Good News Café in Woodbury—and knowing I will be wowed even by items I don’t usually order—while sitting not in the main dining room but in a snug booth in the bar area (http://www.good-news-café.com/; 203-266-4663).

• Ordering the amazing antipasto and an entrée with a Moroccan influence by chef Riad Aaamar at the gorgeous, graceful Oliva Café in New Preston (; 860-868-1787).

• Taking the kids for wood-fire pizza and enjoying the warm hospitality of Julio and Maria Duque at Julio’s in Southbury (; 203-264-7878).

• Finding the time and means to become a regular at Winvian in Morris, in order to enjoy the amazing seed-to-table cuisine of chef Chris Eddy (; 860-567-9600).

• Hoping for cold weather, and then snagging a fireside table in the Tap Room at the Mayflower Inn & Spa in Washington—and then ordering chef Justin Ermini’s signature burger (; 860-868-9466).

• Finally trying an Italian restaurant with a legendary reputation, Roma in Watertown (860-274-2558).

• While in Watertown, picking up homemade ravioli with lobster, and sauce and Arthur Avenue bread, from the Pasta Gallery and treating myself at home (860-945-0223).

• Finding a reason to stop at Belgique Patisserie & Chocolatier in Kent every day it’s open, for everything from croissants and Madeleines to pair with coffee and chocolates and desserts to give as gifts (860-927-3681).

• Grabbing a sandwich at Panini Café in Kent and enjoying in the courtyard of the gorgeous Kent Village Barns shopping haven (860-927-5083).

• Having dinner more often at the ultra-welcoming Doc’s Trattoria in Kent (; 860-927-1711).

• Enjoying once again the Old World-feeling charms of the Fife n’ Drum restaurant in Kent, with the hope of catching founder Dolph Traymon at the piano (; 860-927-3509).

• Frequenting the fresh, contemporary Bank Street Tavern in New Milford and enjoying a glass of wine in one of the upstairs club chairs before settling in for a filling dinner (860-799-7991).

• Finally having dinner (as opposed to brunch and appetizers at events) at The Woodward House in Bethlehem (; 203-266-6902).

• Discovering a favorite among area chefs interviewed for a story in this magazine, the Yokohama Japanese Restaurant in New Milford (860-355-0556).

• Trying a Greyledge Farm hot dog, and the Roxbury establishment’s fine cuts of beef. For a highly successful bunch, the Fitzgeralds couldn’t be nicer—or more dedicated to the farm, which apparently comes through in the quality of the products (; 860-350-3203).

• Seeking out the Landing Zone Grill in Harwinton and sampling some of its cult-following fare (860-485-2733).

• Do the dinner-and-a-movie classic by pairing the authentic offerings of Wood’s Pit BBQ (; 860-567-9869) with a show at the adjacent Bantam Cinema in the Bantam section of Litchfield (; 860-567-0006).

• Digging deeper into the Italian fare at Matteo’s in Watertown or New Milford (; 860-274-9800 or 860-799-7371).

• Enjoying dinner and a nice bottle of wine once again at the charming John’s Café in Woodbury (; 203-263-0188).

• Pairing dinner and a show—at the Warner Theatre in Torrington (; 860-489-7180) and the adjacent Backstage restaurant (; 860-489-8900).

• Working my way through the pub fare menu at The White Horse country pub in the Marbledale section of Washington, while experimenting what will pair better with a fine ale or a fine wine (; 860-868-1496).

• Raiding the bakery case at The Pantry in Washington Depot, while also ordering sandwiches for lunch and take-home entrees (860-868-0258).

• Sitting outside on the spacious patio at Hopkins Inn in New Preston on a summer evening and ordering the newest and freshest items the chefs have been adding to the menu and the landmark establishment ( 860-868-7295).

• Stopping daily at Bantam Bread for “semolina with seeds” and everything else Niles Golovin bakes (860-567-2737).

• Trying the wonderful-sounding, and very affordable, special offers at The Rooster Tail restaurant and inn in Warren (; 860-868-3100).

• Getting a chance to bring the family for pizza at Da Capo in Litchfield (; 860-567-482-6246).

• After enjoying the coffee and pastries at its bakery appendage, finally trying chef Keith “Red” Lanphear’s dinner cuisine at @ the Corner in Litchfield (; 860-567-8882).

• Getting in the French spirit once again at Pastorale Bistro & Bar in Salisbury (; 860-435-1011).

• Having dinner and then attending a concert at Infinity Music Hall & Bistro in Norfolk (; 860-542-5531).

• Tweaking driving routes to stop more often for coffee and a muffin at Marty’s Café in Washington (; 860-868-1700).

• Stopping frequently at the Flour Garden Bakery in Woodbury for almost anything in the display case (203-263-7355).

• Trying more of the specialty sandwiches—can’t seem to stop ordering bacon, egg and cheese on a roll—at The Ripe Tomato Deli in Morris (or Litchfield). No nicer people than Warren and Hilary. (860-567-1199).

All of these things I’ve either done or plan to do as soon as I can.


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Executive Editor of a national award-winning publishing group with newspapers and glossy magazines: The Litchfield County Times, LCT magazine, Passport magazine, Fairfield County Life, etc. Contact me at

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