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Small Bites: Dining News

CTNow.com

11:44 AM EDT, October 15, 2013

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>>The Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce is showing off the area's best cooking talent at its second annual Chef's Challenge on Aug. 24.

"With these cooking shows being so big, people are so excited that we have something like that right here in Manchester," said April DiFalco, chamber president. "Right now we don't see other communities that are doing anything quite like it."

The competition, which will be held at Cheney Hall, features six chefs from local restaurants and businesses. They include Shawn Bittman of A Villa Louisa; Dotti Cannon of Brown Sugar Catering: Tony Sousa of Hartford Road Café; Tim Sheffield of Waterview Cafe at Manchester Country Club; Llord Tilley of The Main Pub; and defending champion Corey Wry of CW's Chops 'N' Catch. Information: manchesterchefschallenge.com.

>>Chef Justin Pillion has joined the Bee and Thistle Inn in Old Lyme, according to owner and general manager Linnea Rufo. Pillion, said Rufo, has built relationships with many of the most dedicated producers of fine foods in the area, and from these he draws inspiration to craft the finest farm to table cuisine. Information: 860- 434-1667 or beeandthistleinn.com.

>>Manchester's Randy's Wooster Street Pizza, 1000 Tolland Turnpike, was just named one of the Top 10 Family Friendly Restaurants in the US Foods new Top Family Friendly Restaurant contest. The top five restaurants will be announced on Sept. 2. Information: 860-649-1166 or woosterspizza.com

>>Eat out and help a good cause by dining at Hartford's Sorella, Salute or Vito's By the Park on Aug. 24 from 5 to 10 p.m. Ten percent of dinner proceeds that evening will be donated to the Bushnell Park Foundation and its efforts to restore the Spanish American War Memorial. Information: bushnellpark.org.

>> On Sept. 9, Whole Foods at Blue Back Square in West Hartford is donating 5 percent of its total sales to benefit the Billings Forge Community Works, a non-profit organization in Hartford that provides housing and jobs while promoting healthful and affordable food. The community includes Firebox restaurant, The Kitchen Café, a weekly Farmer's Market, an arts center and more. Information: billingsforgeworks.org.

>> Trumbull Kitchen in Hartford hosts its "Tiki Thursdays" every Thursday in August. Dining features a pig roast as well as drink specials and acoustic music. Price is $15 a person and includes roasted suckling pig, corn on the cob, assorted sides and one cocktail. Information: 860-493-7412 or trumbullkitchen.com

>>The first "Taste" series at Real Art Ways in Hartford was so popular, it's coming back again. Three more of the area's celebrity chefs will be part of the extended series that features a small plate menu interpretation by the featured chef and a screening from the French "Inventing Cuisine" series.

Featured on Aug. 25 will be Chris Prosperi, chef and co-owner of Metro Bis in Simsbury. Other featured chefs will be Rachel Carr of Six Main on Sept. 29, and Cafemantic's Jonathan Hudak on Oct. 20.

Individual event prices are $25 or $22 for RAW members. A special package is available for those who want tickets for all three vents. Cost is $60 for RAW members and $70 for non-members. Information: 860-267-1276 or realartways.org

>>A "Head to Tail" Max Chef to Farm Dinner will be at Rosedale Farms and Vineyards, 25 East Weatogue, Simsbury on Aug. 28 at 6:30 p.m. Chefs Scott Miller and Hunter Morton will present a multi-course menu that includes Stonington squid and peppers, farm pork and onions, monkfish and squash, beef cheek huaraches and tomato gratin. Cost is $115 per person plus tax and tip. Information: 860-566-8360 or maxcheftofarm.com.

>>Lyman Orchards will host a New England Clambake on Aug. 23. Steamed mussels, clams and lobster, corn on the cob, side dishes and dessert will be served under a tent on the grounds. Hamburgers and hot dogs will also be served. Live entertainment is also planned. Tickets are $39.99 for adults and $19.95 for juniors (6-12). Kids 5 and under eat free. Tax and tip are not included. Information: 860-349-6043 or lymanorchards.com

>>La Trattoria on Route 44 in Canton is offering its lobster dinner specials on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, with prices ranging from $15.95 to $24.95. Prices are subject to change. On Thursdays, there is also a raw bar special with $1 oysters and clams and $5 glasses of wine. Information: 860-673-5000 or latrattoriact.com.

>>Angelico's Lakehouse hosts all-you-can-eat BBQ Pig Roast on Aug. 24 from noon to 5 p.m. BBQ pig, pulled pork, BBQ chicken served with house sides including cheddar mac and cheese, smoking; chili, bourbon mashed potatoes and campfire baked beans will be served for $15 a person. Live entertainment will also be featured. Information: 860-267-1276 or angelicoslakehouse.com

>>The Newport Mansions Wine & Food Festival will be held Sept. 19 to 21. Friday seminars will be held at the Hyatt Regency Newport, with Saturday and Sunday seminars held at the Chinese Tea House on the grounds of the Marble House.

Activities include Grand Tastings on Saturday and Sunday, a Wine & Rosecliff Gala, Collectible Wine Dinner and exclusive Sunday brunch with celebrated speakers and chefs including Martha Stewart and Sara Moulton. Other featured presenters include author and epicurean Loy Di Palo, mixologist Marshall Altier and senior wine editor of Food & Wine, Megan Krigbaum. Proceeds benefit the Preservation Society of Newport County. Information: 401-847-1000 or NewportMasionsWineAndFood.org

>>Max Fish will hold a tour de France French Wine Dinner on Aug. 21 at 6:30 p.m. Cuisine by Chef Robert Peterson will be served. The five-course dinner is $89 per person plus tax and tip. Information: 860-652-3474 or maxfishct.com

>>The birthday of iconic chef and author Julia Childs will be celebrated on Aug. 27 at Cavey's, 45 East Center St., Manchester, on Aug. 27. The wine-paired dinner will feature some of Child's famed dishes including soufflé of poached egg and stuffed leg of lamb with wines of Jim Brewer. The five courses and five wine dinner is $85 per person with reception beginning at 7 p.m. Information: 860-643-2751 or caveysrestaurant.com

>>Nixs Hartford, a seafood-focused eatery with craft cocktails, will open this month in Hartford at 40 Front Street. Named for Nix's Mate, an island off the coast of Boston Harbor, the restaurant is part of the Bostonian Hospitality Group - other locations are in Boston, Nantucket, Plymouth and Newburyport.

A sample menu features raw bar selections, ceviche, lobster rolls, fish tacos, and crudo of the day, along with "land" items like a charcuterie plate, pork belly sliders and assorted flatbreads. Large plates include truffle lobster mac and cheese, salmon filet and free-range chicken. Cocktails, made with premium spirits and house infusions, are sold by the glass, half-carafe or carafe, or bottled. Information: nixshartford.com.

>>Oyster Club, 13 Water St., Mystic, hosts Wednesday-evening "lobster nights" at its Treehouse until Labor Day. Three courses include choice of quahog chowder or mixed green salad; a 1 1/2-pound lobster with corn on the cob and potato and warm summer fruit crisp with whipped cream for $45. Information: 860-415-9266, oysterclubct.com.

>>Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana is reportedly expanding north to the Bay State. The New Haven original is looking to open in Brookline, Mass. next year, in the space currently occupied by The Fireplace restaurant. "From now until the end of the year, the Frank Pepe team will be developing and submitting plans for their coal-fired pizza restaurant to the town and upon approval, hope to begin construction and the behind the scenes process of opening their new location," the owners said in a statement. Established in 1925, Pepe's is one of the country's most iconic names in pizza, with locations throughout Connecticut and another in Yonkers, N.Y. Information: pepespizzeria.com.

>>Rizzuto's mid-summer happy hour in West Hartford offers a package deal: Choose from a list of summer cocktails and special small plates and pair one of each together for just $10. Happy hour runs Monday through Friday, 4 to 7 p.m.; late-night on Thursday from 9 to 11 p.m. and late-night Friday and Saturday, 10 to midnight. Rizzuto's is at 111 Memorial Road. Information: 860-232-5000, rizzutos.com.

 >>Blue Plate Kitchen, 333 N. Main St., West Hartford, presents a Mexican-inspired four-course dinner with Hotel California tequila tastings and cocktails Aug. 18 at 7 p.m. The menu features a trio of chilled soups; a family-style taco bar with chicken, scrod and steak; ancho-seared duck breast and mole rojo and churros with flavored dipping sauces. Cost is $55, plus tax and gratuity. Information and reservations: 860-906-1419 or bpkwesthartford.com.

>> Fleming's, 44 S. Main St., West Hartford, hosts a summer wine tasting Aug. 29 at 6:30 p.m. The event features Pinot Noirs from around the world, with a selection of light passed hors d'oeuvres. Cost is $35, and each guest will receive a $25 gift card to enjoy in the dining room. Reservations and information: 860-233-1116, flemingssteakhouse.com.

>>Another Farm to Table Dinner featuring chef and owner of Metro Bis Restaurant Chris Prosperi will be held on Aug. 20. Held at Community Farm of Simsbury at 73 Wolcott Road, dinners include a four-course dinner with wine pairings prepared by local chefs and featuring organically grown, fresh produce from Community Farm of Simsbury. Tickets are $100. Information: 860-676-2323 and donatenow.networkforgood.org/giftsoflovect.

>>The landmark Hawthorne Inn in Berlin, most recently known as The Hawthorne Restaurant, has temporarily closed for renovations. Information: 860-828-3571 or the hawthornect.com

>>Hartford has another new restaurant. Bear's Smokehouse, a Kansas city-style barbecue restaurant, has opened on Arch Street. The 2300-square-foot restaurant is now open for lunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and will be adding dinner hours. Information: 860-724-3100 and bearsbbq.com

>>Cavey's, East Center Street, Manchester has teamed up for a Chef to Farm alfresco dinner with South Glastonbury's Rose's Berry Farm, 295 Matson Hill Road, beginning at 6 p.m. on Aug. 8. The paired wine dinner features fresh local produce, fish and meats and dishes including local corn chowder, heirloom tomato salad, Berkshire pig roast and penne in marinara. Cost is $95 plus tax and tip. Information: 860-643-2751 and caveysrestaurant.com

>>Vito's by the Water, 1936 Blue Hills Extension, Windsor, is offering several summer specials. Thursday is "piazza pizza party"day with live entertainment and pizza samples at the bar from 5 to 8 p.m. Oysters for $1 are also offered. On Friday and Saturday, two guests can dine for $59 and on Sunday, the restaurant is featuring a jazz brunch and promotional double points for dining on Sunday. Information: 860-285-8660 and vitosct.com

>> Carbone's Ristorante hosts its 11th Annual Cigar & Scotch dinner Sept. 25 at the restaurant at 388 Franklin Ave., Hartford, and includes boutique beers, fine wines, aged single malt scotches and complimentary cigars with a Carbone's dinner. Tickets are $125. A portion of ticket sales goes to a charity of Carbone's choice. Information: 860-296-9646 andr carbonesct.com

>>Harry's Bishops Corner is offering something new through middle of September: a Lobster and Scallop Pie. The specialty pie was created by owner Kevin Plaut after spending many inspiring summer family vacations at the Maine coastline. "Every summer my family and I envision what a lobster pie would look like and try to imagine what it might taste like, so we finally decided it was time to introduce our own lobster pizza," Plaut said.

The pizza is a white pie with mozzarella, grilled Roma tomatoes, roasted native corn and a generous portion of lobster and sea scallops, garnished with a light sprinkle of seasoned bread crumbs, chives, a drizzle of clarified butter and lemon. The price is $50 for a 12" pizza. Orders must be placed by phone 24 hours in advance. Information: 860-236-0400 and harrysbc.com

>>Capital Grille, 44 Front St., Hartford hosts its "Generous Pour" wine event. Through Aug. 31, for just $25 (with the purchase of dinner)), guests can enjoy pours of any of the seven separate world-class wine varietals. Guests have the flexibility to start with one wine and finish with a different choice. The list of the Generous Pour wines: Atalon, Sauvignon Blanc, Byron, Chardonnay, Carmel Road, "Liberated" Riesling and Freemark Abbey, Merlot. Information: 860-244-0075 and thecapitalgrille.com

>>Taste of the Nation Harford, benefiting the "No Kid Hungry" campaign, will be held Sept. 25 at Marquee Events and Catering, 960 Main St., Hartford. The annual event features dozens of restaurants and spirits vendors at one of the area's most popular fundraisers. VIP tickets are $150 and general admission tickets are $85.Information: nokidshungry.org

>>The Blue Plate Kitchen, 333-3 N. Main St., West Hartford will host a Hotel California Tequila Dinner on Aug. 18 from 7 to 10 p.m. Dinner includes duck breast mole, a family style taco bar, churros and chilled soup with paired tequilas. Cost is $55 a person plus tax and tip. Information: 860-906-1419 or bpkwesthartford.com.

>>Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar on South Main Street in West Hartford is offering a glass of 40th Anniversary Caymus Napa Cabernet Sauvignon paired with its signature Prime Burger for only $25 in the bar. Information: 860-676-9463 or flemingssteakhouse.com.

>>The New Britain Museum of American Art holds its 11th annual the Art of Wine &Food, presented by Farmington Bank, on Sept. 16 beginning at 5:30 p.m. More than 15 restaurants will participate in the dine- around that also includes a variety of wine selections and samplings. Live and silent auctions will also be featured. Tickets range from $175 to $350 person. Information: 860-229-0257 or nbmaa.org

>>Carbone's Ristorante in Hartford and Carbone's Kitchen in Bloomfield will host Maine Lobster Nights on Tuesdays and Wednesdays through Aug. 27. The menu features a choice of New England clam chowder or garden salad and a 1-1/4-pound steamed Maine lobster, roasted potatoes, corn on the cob and strawberry shortcake. The cost is $29 excluding beverages, tax and gratuity. On Thursdays, the Late Happiest Happy Hour offers live music from 4 to 9 p.m. with half-price cicchetti – Venetian-style small plates – and drink specials.

 >>Fresh Salt, the casual, fine dining restaurant at Saybrook Point Inn & Spa in Old Saybrook, has introduced its summer menu. Chef Leslie Tripp developed the dishes and specials based on local ingredients, especially fresh-caught seafood. The catch-of-the-day inspires the daily "Today's Day Boat" special such as Bomster Stonington Scallops ($29.95) or Montauk Big Eye tuna ($29.95). Seafood also stars in paella Valencia and fresh salt Cioppino ($24.95 for a petite portion; $29.95 for a regular serving). Other menu items include roasted chicken breast with crisp thigh, gruyere potato purée, shiitake mushrooms, asparagus, peas, and roast lemon jus ($25.95) and prime pork chop, guava glazed with cardamom roasted apricot, summer dug carrots, and melted leeks ($27.95). Information: 860-388-1111.

>>Restaurant L&E in Chester makes Saturday night dining extra special with its French Farmhouse wine pairing dinner. Served on the roof deck or in the dining room, the five-course menu is paired with select wines and costs $75, excluding tax and tip. The menu changes weekly, but chef/owner Everett Reid posts each Saturday's menu on L&E's website, restaurantfrench75.com, and Facebook page. The upstairs bar opens at 6:30 p.m. for cocktails starting at $9. The prix fixe meal begins at 7 p.m. Reservations: 860-526-5301.

>>The Grist Mill Restaurant in Avon has unveiled its new summer menu as well as other changes. The menu features several new tapas, lobster mac and cheese, baked clams casino, an artisan meat and cheese platter and herbed focaccia bread sticks with blue cheese fondue dup. The restaurant also offers a three-course, $19.99 lunch menu Mondays through Saturdays. Telephone: 860-676-8855.

>>Confetti restaurant in Plainville is featuring all things lobster on a special menu available through July. The baker's dozen of offerings includes hot and cold lobster rolls; lobster-stuffed heirloom tomato with tarragon aioli; lobster pot pie, and lobster ravioli with tarragon cream and lobster meat garnish. The lobster menu is served all day. Telephone: 860-739-8809.

>>Carbone's Ristorante in Hartford and Carbone's Kitchen in Bloomfield offer "Lobster Nights" in July and August on Tuesday and Wednesday. The full meal includes choice of garden salad or New England clam chowder; a 1-1/4 pound steamed lobster, roasted potatoes and corn on the cob and summer berry shortcake for dessert. Cost is $29. Information: carbonesct.com; carboneskitchen.com.

>>BALLO Italian Restaurant and Social Club at Mohegan Sun, 1 Mohegan Sun Blvd, Uncasville, celebrates the arrival of summer with "Diva Fridays." Every Friday evening, the restaurant is offering $5 BALLO Limonatas, Ruffino Chianti and Ruffino Pinot Grigio at the bar for ladies only. On Sundays, the restaurant offers 50 percent off Champagne and wine over $100 per bottle. The bar is also serving a new Sweet Peach Tea cocktail, with fresh-brewed iced tea, Van Gogh peach vodka, elderflower, frozen peaches and mint. New menu items include swordfish with cauliflower, sopressata and salsa verde; skirt steak with grilled corn, herb and crema and housemade cavatelli with pizzaiola, summer squash and wild oregano. Information: 860-862-1100, balloitalian.com.

>>Carbone's Kitchen, 6 Wintonbury Mall, Bloomfield, is offering a special $23.99 Monday night three-course dinner. Menu choices include shrimp arancini, house minestrone, chicken parmesan, eggplant rollatini and tiramisu. half price bottles of wine from the Captain's List will also bew featured on Mondays. Information: 860-904-2111 or carboneskitchen.com.

>>Beer, brick-oven baked pizza and entertainment for two? That's the summer deal at Confetti, 393 Farmington Ave., Plainville on Wednesdays from 5 to 9 p.m. Eat in the bar or on the deck and you can have two cheese individual pizzas, a pitcher of beer or soda and enjoy acoustic guitar entertainment. Information: 860-793-8809 or idineconfetti.com.

>> As New Haven's 116 Crown rolls into its seventh summer in business, the lounge introduces a new seasonal happy hour, with special cocktails and small plates priced at $5 to $7. 7th Summer specials are available from 5 to 7 p.m. on weekdays; all night Thursdays. 116 Crown St. Information: 203-777-3116 and 116crown.com.

>> Haight-Brown Vineyards, 29 Chestnut Hill Road, Litchfield, hosts its second annual pig roast and Hawaiian luau on July 5 at 1 p.m. The event features Hawaiian music, hula hoop and limbo contests, grass skirts and leis. The $25 ticket includes pig roast with two sides and a glass of wine. Reservations are taken with a credit card: 860-567-4045 and www.haightvineyards.com.

>>Peppercorn's Grill, 357 Main St., Hartford, has a new, free rewards program for its customers. Diners will receive points for every dollar spent at the restaurant, and at 500 points will receive $25 off the next visit. Bonus points will also be offered at special times including happy hour and for special events including birthdays. Information: 860-547-1714 and peppercornsgrill.com.

>>Tuscany Grill in Middletown has announced its new seasonal menu additions including a spring/summer antipasti with ahi tuna tartar, arugula and watermelon salad with feta, and entrees including grilled salmon with mango jalapeno chutney, pan seared salmon and grilled pork tenderloin with taso ham and potato hash. Information: 860-346-7096 or tuscany-grill.com.

>>On20, 2 State St. Hartford, and its executive chef Jeffrey Lizotte have introduced a new bistro-style lunch menu featuring a new mix of soups, sides, salads and main courses from $4 to $23. The restaurant's regular lunch menu will also be offered. Information: 860-722-5161 or ontwenty.com.

>>Costa del Sol, 901 Wethersfield Ave., Hartford, has opened its landscaped patio dining for the season and is now featuring its summer menu. Seasonal choices include chilled New Zealand mussels, salmon and shrimp ceviche, house cured codfish with lemon garlic parley glaze and rib eye with chimichurri sauce. Information: 860-296-1714 and costadelsolrestaurant.net.

>>Calling it a "survivor" of the days when cocktail "lounges" were in vogue, Esquire Magazine has chosen New Haven's Anchor Restaurant as one of its Best Bars in America for 2014. The Best Bars list, in its ninth year, features nightspots from coast to coast. Anchor joins establishments in Seattle, Boston, Brooklyn, Manhattan, New Orleans, Los Angeles and Houston. 272 College St. Information: 203-865-1512.

>>Sorella, 901 Main St., Hartford, showcases its new summer menu with such specialties as handmade burrata with marinated tomato and aged balsamic, porchetta with broccoli rabe and fried egg, fava bean bruschetta with pecorino and mint and "green and white" pizza with mozzarella, parmesan, fontina and Starlight Garden greens. Information: 860-244-9084, sorellahartford.com.

>>Pond House Café, 1555 Asylum Ave., West Hartford, finds itself among good company on a recently released list of OpenTable's Top 100 Best Brunch Restaurants in America. The cafe within picturesque Elizabeth Park prides itself on "eclectic, creative cuisine," and serves brunch Saturday and Sunday from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Information: 860-231-8823, pondhousecafe.com.

>>Get a taste of summer with Millwright's new weekly clambakes, offered Tuesday through Thursday. The complete meal, with choice of whole lobster, New York strip or roasted chicken, is served with clams, mussels, corn, potatoes, fennel and chorizo (family-style) and strawberry shortcake and buttermilk sorbet for dessert. Guests will be seated on the restaurant's deck, overlooking a rushing waterfall. Cost is $35 for the meal. Millwright's is at 77 West St. in Simsbury. Reservations and information: 860-651-5500, millwrightsrestaurant.com.

>>Pink's Hot Dogs, the renowned Hollywood-based hot dog restaurant, has opened its first East Coast location at Bristol's Lake Compounce amusement park. Lake Compounce is open on weekends until June 14, when it begins daily operation. Information: lakecompounce.com.

>>The Capital Grille has doubled its burger offerings on its lunch menu, adding three new options for daytime dining. The new burgers include a Kona coffee-crusted Wagyu burger with shallot mayonnaise ($17); a wild mushroom Wagyu cheeseburger with 15-year aged balsamic ($18); and an Oscar-style Wagyu burger with jumbo lump crab and Bearnaise ($19). In Connecticut, Capital Grille is at 44 Front St. in Hartford (860-244-0075) and 230 Tresser Blvd. in Stamford (203-967-0000). Information: thecapitalgrille.com.

>>West Hartford's Blue Plate Kitchen has added hours to its Sunday service, now offering dinner from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. The restaurant's Happiest Hour now extends through the bar, dining room and expansive patio on weekdays from 4 to 6 p.m. Deals include $3 select City Steam Beers; $4 select glasses of wine and $5 small plates. Blue Plate Kitchen is at 345 N. Main St. Information: 860-906-1873 and bpkwesthartford.com.

>>Thomas Hooker Brewery has opened at Mohegan Sun. Located in the Race Book in Casino of the Earth, it will feature six beers on tap including Blonde, IPA, Irish Red Ale and Chocolate Truffle Stout. Information: 888-226-7711 and mohegansun.com

 Send restaurant news at least 10 days before publication to MaryEllen Fillo at fillo@courant.com, 860-241-3717 (phone), 860-520-6927 (fax) or in care of The Courant, 285 Broad St., Hartford, CT 06115