By Paul Morrone, CFP ®, CPA, MSA
We are very fortunate here in New Haven to have such a wide variety of great restaurants. Whether it's eating wings at Archie Moores, grabbing a pizza at Sally's on Wooster Street, having a romantic dinner at Union League Café or enjoying some of the great ethnic food that the city has to offer, you really can't go wrong.
When our team was discussing favorite restaurants, I immediately had writer's block. Jill and I can barely make a decision on where to go to dinner on a Friday night; trying to figure out which is my favorite restaurant of all time, from anywhere in the world, seemed nearly impossible. I'm sure the others felt the same way. Full disclosure: I'm bias towards Italian food when it comes to talking about 'favorites.' And given my love for cheese, pasta, wine and anything else that can be imported from Italy it should come as no surprise that my favorite restaurant happens to be Italian.
During our travels both home and abroad, I found myself continuing to use one restaurant as the benchmark to determine the relative 'goodness' of the meal we were enjoying. Babbo in New York City is a collaboration of two of America's best Italian chefs: Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich. Since its opening, it has earned numerous awards and recognition, including the coveted Michelin star rating. For me, however, it's not about the restaurant's rating (one Michelin star), the quality of the service (which is exceptional) or the food itself (also exceptional), but the overall experience. Babbo was where Jill and I celebrated our engagement and we have vowed to make the pilgrimage to Greenwich Village in NYC at least once a year in an attempt to recreate that night, but really just to have a phenomenal meal. It's fine dining but not stuffy, and the quality of the food is spectacular. I recommend the pasta tasting menu; you'll get 5 courses, each one better than the last. Pair it with a nice bottle of Montepulciano or Sangiovese and smile all the way to the dessert course, a favorite of mine. We've had several desserts at Babbo, but Olive Oil cake is what keeps us coming back. It's sweet enough to be a dessert and salty enough to make you crave more. If you plan to go, however, make sure to make reservations exactly 1 month in advance as soon as the restaurant opens that day or you may not be lucky enough to get in.
By Tom Morrone, CFP ®, CPA
There are so many great restaurants that I have been fortunate to patronize over the years. We are fortunate to have some of the best Italian Restaurants so when a good hearty past dish is craved there are plenty to choose from. Sometimes you have to have a steak and there are plenty of steak houses to choose from as well. But I must say if there is a restaurant that I could go to more often it is Casey Key Fish House on Casey Key in Florida. It is located in a marina on a bay so there are beautiful water views in a tropical setting with a large Tiki Bar adjacent to the restaurant which provides a great place to have a drink while waiting to dine. Once seated, the mussels in the white wine butter broth with garlic bread for dipping gets the taste buds energized. The entre of choice is the sesame seared ahi tuna. The hunk of tuna is the size of a softball, is cooked to perfection and it melts in your mouth. Add some Asian noodles and some wasabi and I am good to go. If ever on the west coast of FL and looking for a memorable dining experience, try the Casey Key Fish House.
By Barbara Gode
Over the years, some of my favorite restaurants have changed. I think the reason is because maybe they're not everyone else's favorite. About 29 years ago, I loved every opportunity to visit the Chart House in either New Haven, CT or Newport, RI. The one in RI had a very nice, yet impressive salad bar that even included caviar. Typically, I love perfectly grilled chicken, fish or filet. My first choice would be the grilled salmon with a baked potato and a grilled side vegetable. Now, if the restaurant is home to a beautiful salad bar (or great signature salad) with all the fixings, fresh bread and soup...count me in. I have learned to become quite the 'grill master' myself and will frequently fire-up the grill (even in the snow). However, two years ago while shopping in South Windsor at Evergreen Walk (outdoor) plaza, we stumbled upon Burton's. Because it was a popular place, we needed to wait about 30 minutes to be seated. This gave me the chance to warm up with an Irish coffee before dinner. Once seated, I was surprised that there was a separate menu for those with gluten sensitivity, like me. Their homemade gluten-free bread was fabulous! Naturally, I ordered the wild caught grilled Salmon from Maine with rice, rainbow carrots and citrus fennel slaw. It was delicious! When I can't get to Burton's, you'll find me at the S&P Oyster Co. in Mystic. Their grilled shrimp is the best around this area (in my opinion). Oh, and you MUST order their signature Bloody Mary to go with it. Just look at that shrimp! Cheers!