Tag Archives: Connecticut Magazine

What’s “The Best” According To CT Mag

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Courtesy of Connecticut Magazine

It’s that time of year again, and we’re not talking “unofficial end of summer” or “back to school and the regular work grind” time. But rather Connecticut Magazine’s 17th annual “Best Of” issue, the one where editors (with some reader input) rate the best places to eat, play and shop.

If you are in the Hartford area or don’t mind a bit of drive, lucky you! You have lots of “best of” choices to savor.

Let’s start by shopping!

Hartford’s own Stackpole Moore Tryon Tuesdaysstackpole was named best when it came to “Women’s Wear” while Lux Bond & Green, with several locations in the area, was judged “Best Fine Jewelry.”

West Hartford’s Kimberly Boutique was voted “Best Casual Jewelry.”

In the “Fun and Leisure” category, Brownstone Exploration and Discovery Park in Portland was judged  “Best Action Park” and Crocodile Cove at Lake Compounce in Bristol  “Best Water Park.”

“Best Beer Garden” went to East Side Restaurant in New Britain, with On20 in Hartford named the “Best Draft Cocktail” award. And speaking of drinks, City Steam in Hartford was deemed “Best Happy Hour”  while Vinted in West Hartford was named  “Best Wine Bar.”

Middletown’s Oddfellows Playhouse garnered the “Best Children’s Theater” award with “The Kate” in Old Saybook named best small concert venue. Toyota Oakdale Theater in Wallingford was named “Best Large Concert Venue.”

woodntapIn the “Food and Drink” category, Plan B with locations in West Hartford and beyond was named “Best Burger” and “Sweet Maria’s ” in Waterbury “Best Cake.” Rein’s in Vernon was named “Best Deli” and Dottie’s Diner in Waterbury and Woodbury “Best Doughnuts.” (watch for A La Carte online and in the Courant to read about those award-winning doughnuts and beyond!)

Doogies in Newington was named “Best Hot Dog” and in the “Best Ice Cream” category it was Arethusa Dairyarethusa11 Farm in Litchfield.

Wood ‘n Tap, with several locations including Hartford, was tapped  as having the “Best Nachos”  and Sixpence Pie company with locations in Southington and New Haven named, what else but “Best Pie.”  Bartaco, with several locations including one in West Hartford, grabbed the “Best Tacos” award and as far as “Best Wings,”  it was “J. Timothy’s in Plainville.

The “Best Consignment Furniture” went to Middlebury Consignment with RJ Julia Booksellers in Madison named as “Best Independent Bookstore.”

Over the Moon in Avon won “Best Kids Boutique” and when it came to “Best Toys,” the award went to Kiddly Winks in Canton.

shrineMohegan Sun and Foxwoods split awards in the “Casinos ” category with Foxwoods being named “Best Fine Dining” for its Paragon Restaurant.” Foxwoods Grand Theater was named  “Best Large Entertainment Venue” and its Shrine named  “Best Nightclub”

Mohegan Sun took the “Best Small Entertainment Venue” with its Cabaret Theater and “Best Shopping”  at its The Shops at Mohegan Sun.

For the complete list go here.



Hartford Mag Celebrates May

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hartbest11While the “best of” politically speaking were over at the Bond Ballroom for the Brown Rudnick “Red wine Night,” the rest of the “best of” were on the other side of downtown at On20 where Hartford Magazine held its May issue launch, the one that has the results of the reader’s poll when it comes “best of” everything from shopping to eating and everything in between.

“Being voted the best means a lot to us,” said Wayne Roberts, president of Hartford’s Premiere Limousine, voted once again as best limousine service. “We work hard to have up-to-date vehicles and great people to serve our customers and I guess that is why we win,” he said. “We are thankful.”

Among the under the radar celebs at the event was Elise Maclay, who didn’t win any awards but was invited to attend.

But the sassy Ms. Maclay didn’t want anyone to know she was there and please no pictures, she insisted.

“I review restaurants, I don’t want them to know who I am,” she said.

While there was no category for “best brand marketing company,” Derek Beere and companyhartbest22 president Steve Hayes may be shepherding a new Hartford business that will get “best new club” in 2015.

Hartford’s Room 960 Nightclub on Main Street closed several months ago but watch carefully, because something even better when it comes to downtown nightlife will soon be opening there.

Called “Boutique Nightclub,” the two explained the venue will have a classic “speak easy” vibe, much different that the upscale South Beach experience 960 was best known for while it was open.

“Everything is gutted, it is all being redone,” said Beere about the new venue that will be operated by former 960 owner, Chris Bigliardieri.

The new club is expected to open in May.


CT Mag Readers Vote on Dining ‘Best’

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maggA new year means new opinions from Connecticut Magazine readers on what’s best when it comes to dining out around the state.

And even with a new, more streamlined  format in the January 2014  issue, several Hartford-area places have still made the grade when it comes to readers’ votes and special mentions by the editors.

In the ‘Best Mexican’ category, Bartaco, with a location in West Hartford, was deemed #1 while another WeHa Mexican eatery, Besito, placed third.

While no longer really part of the Hartford area food scene since closing its Wethersfield location, Carmen Anthony’s, with locations now  in Waterbury, New Haven and Woodbury, was voted ‘Best Prime Rib’ and ‘Best Steak,’ and took third in ‘Best Seafood.’

Placing third in the ‘Best Steak’ category was Capital Grille, which has a new Hartford location.capgrille5

Barcelona, with a location in West Hartford, was third in the ‘Most Romantic’ category,  while Millwright’s in Simsbury took third in the ‘Best Desserts’ contest.

When it comes to ‘Family Dining,’ it was a sweep for Hartford-area restaurants. Placing first was Bartaco in West Hartford. Second place went to First & Last Tavern and third to Wood-n-Tap, both popular places with several locations in and around Hartford.

Bartaco and Barcelona were tapped second and third respectively in the ‘Best Outdoor’ dining category and Barcelona racked up even more reader accolades, placing firsbarct in the ‘Best Wine Selection’ category and  second when it comes to ‘Best Service.’

Among the Hartford area restaurants that received a special shout-out as part of the magazine poll were Rein’s Deli, called a “must-exit I-84 gem,” The Willows in Bristol, Firebox in Hartford, the “Max Empire” restaurants, Republic in Bloomfield, Rizzuto’s in West Hartford , Hartford’s On20, (editors noting that the General Assembly should pass a bill requiring every Hartford executive to dine there,) and Vinted Wine Bar and Fleming’s, both in West Hartford.

Mentioned as “fast balls right down the middle” that are worth the trip include 50 West in Plainville, and La Tavola and Sweet Maria’s in Waterbury,

Abartacolso getting some special attention were West Street Grill in Litchfield, Carole Peck’s Good News Cafe in Woodbury, a renowned restaurant that just celebrated its 20th anniversary, Arethusa al Tavolo in Bantam, The Vanilla Bean Cafe in Pomfret, River Tavern in Chester, and a slew of places in New Haven,  editors nicknamed ‘ Connecticut’s hot lava core of fine dining.’

For more of the list go here.


It’s On The Racks, CT Magazine’s 2013 Best of CT

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Courtesy of Connecticut Magazine

That time of the year again folks. The September issue of Connecticut Magazine is out and so is its coveted   “Best of Connecticut” list for 2013.

 The Hartford area has fared pretty well when it comes to who made the statewide “best of” list in categories including fun, dining, gift shops, spas and more, all part of the 16th annual edition compiled by magazine editors.

The Hartford area made its biggest mark when it comes to dining. Manchester’s Cosmic Omelet was named best “eggs” in the breakfast category with Daybreak Coffee Roasters in Glastonbury and JoJo’s Coffee Roasting Co. in Hartford making the list for best “coffee bars.”


Hartford Courant

Firebox in Hartford was named best “farm-to-table” in the menu/cuisine category while the city’s Trumbull Kitchen was named best for its “gluten free” menu.

Tulmeadow Farm in Simsbury made the best “ice cream” list while Hartford DISH made it into one of the new categories, “Dog-Friendly Dining.”  But it’s not what you think.

The category highlights restaurants who may not serve Rover his own entrees tableside, but the family dog “is welcome to enjoy the atmosphere and a table scrap or two at the outdoor seating area on warm sunny days.”

The landmark Rein’s Deli in Vernon once again named best “deli” in the dining out “ETC.” category. Named best “Greasy Spoon” was Middletown’s Mo’s Midtown.


Hartford Courant

Best new chef is Hartford On20’s Jeffrey Lizotte and best pastry chef, Millwright’s Kristin Eddy in Simsbury. Best tearoom went to Hartford’s Tisane and in the best “diners” category; Corey’s Catsup & Mustard, O’Rourke’s in Middletown and Parkside Café in Bristol all got the magazine’s nod.

Mondo in Middletown made the best “pizza” list and when it came to the best “neighborhood restaurant,” Hartford’s First & Last Tavern fit the best bill.

In the sandwich variations category, Plan B burger Bar with many locations including West Hartford and Simsbury made the “burger” grade, and on the best “barbecue” list, Smoking with Chris in Southington also pleased the editors.


Hartford Courant

The list also includes a “Family” activity category and in the Hartford area Riverfront Miniature Golf in Farmington was a best place to go along with the Brownstone Discovery Park in Portland and Crocodile Cove Water Park at Lake Compounce in Bristol.

In the antiques category, shops including Antiques on the Farmington in Canton, the Flea Circus in Canton and Irreplaceable Artifacts in Middletown were all award winners.

And as far as services, Vinnie’s Jump & Jive community dance hall in Middletown was cited as an award winning place to learn how to dance.

For the entire list go here.

CT Magazine Editor Leaving

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monagan[1]ctcoverMost consider  longtime editor Charley Monagan the “heart” of Connecticut Magazine, the state’s premiere monthly periodical, the one that set the bar when it comes to comprehensive reader polls, restaurant reviews,  state celebrity and business  profiles and the intimate look inside the state and its lifestyle.

Monagan will be leaving his job in March,  the victim of an administrative  downsizing by the magazine’s owner, the Journal Register Co. (JRC) His position has been eliminated and taking his place will be the Register’s Connecticut Group editor, Matt DeRienzo.

“Charlie was very knowledgeable,” said DeRienzo characterizing Monagan as  “the voice of the magazine.” “But we have a new vision and are pooling our resources, online, newspapers and magazines, looking to have less administration and more front line reporters, ” he said, noting the company is also looking to expand the statewide magazine’s on-line presence.

The 42-year-old Connecticut Magazine was purchased by the Journal Register in 1999. Monagan served as editor from 1978 to 1980 and then returned in 1989.

“It’s too early for the post-mortem”  quipped Monagan, when contacted about the magazine staffing change. Monagan, who has written several books including  “Connecticut Icons,”  “The Reluctant Naturalist”  and “The Neurotics Handbook, said he has some plans. “I’d like to continue editing and writing,” he said, “and  maybe write another book,” he said. “But I still have five weeks here.”

The Journal Register owns daily and weekly newspapers, and other print media properties and newspaper-affiliated local websites in several states including Connecticut. Newspaper properties include The New Haven Register and The Middletown Press. Its parent company, Digital First Media,  filed for bankruptcy protection five months ago.

Besides Connecticut Magazine, Monagan is also the editor of Connecticut Bride, also a JRC property that becomes part of DeRienzo’s duties.

DeRienzo estimated paid circulation of Connecticut Magazine at about 88,000. He said no other magazine staff positions are being eliminated.

“There will be no cutbacks in the news in the magazine,” he said about future plans for monthly publication. “There will still be all the features that contributed to the magazine’s success.”




CT Mag Releases 2013 ” Best Restaurant” List

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ctcoverIt’s that time of year again when Connecticut Magazine announces its prestigious “Best Restaurant” list, a carefully compiled accounting of restaurants from all over the state that shine in categories ranging from appetizers to service to cocktails.

This year, the landmark list, featured in its February issue,  was created a little differently. Instead of reader votes, magazine editors invited food writers, cookbook authors and bloggers to do the nominating.

Several Hartford area restaurants  made the grade again including Tyler Anderson’s Millwrights in Simsbury, a winner in the “Best New Restaurant”  and “Best Service” categories.

maxBoth Max Downtown and West Street Grill also made the “Best American” list. Among the “Best Overall”  winners was West Street Grill in Litchfield, with Max Downtown, Brasserie Pip in Ivoryton and Hartford’s On 20 making the honorable mention list.

Speaking of Brasserie Pip , the place popular chef Noel Jones landed after leaving On20 last year, it was tapped as one of the “Best Romantic” places to dine and interestingly enough, On20 also made the “Best Romantic”  list as well.

grantdWest Hartford’s Grants made the “Best Dessert” list, Besito “Best Mexican” and Barcelona “Best Appetizers” lists. Among the “Best Italian” winners was Hartford’s Carbone’s.

“Best Brunch” included Hartford’s Firebox, “Best Seafood” included Max Fish in Glastonbury and “Best French” restaurant included Cavey’s in Manchester.

casteakTapped for the “Best Steak” category were Carmen Anthony, with several locations in the state including Wethersfield and Waterbury, and Fleming’s in West Hartford. “Best Prime Rib” winners in the Hartford area were Carmen Anthony and Hawthorne Inn in Berlin.

Named to the “Best BBQ” list was The Pit Stop BBQ in New Britain.

Making the “Best Sushi”  list was Feng in Hartford and Sushi Red in Plainville.

For the complete list go here.



Ct Mag Announces “40 Under 40″ List

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Connecticut Magazine has announced its Class of 2013 “40 fortyUnder 40” and the Greater Hartford area has not fared too bad when it comes to who made the “best and brightest” roll call  released this month.
Area “under 40s” included on the new list are:
-Jordan Cohen Coe, 32, Wethersfield, who oversees many business aspects of the ShopRite store chain, and sits on several boards including The Friends of the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center and Our Piece of the Pie.
-Mark Berardi, 38, Southington, who is the director of membership and training at the Connecticut Association of Nonprofits.
-Nathan Grube, 37, West Hartford, tournament director of the Travelers Championship which raised a record $1.1 million in 2012 for a host of local charities.
-Dave Marcoux, 28, Marshall Deming, 28 and Luke Davis, 26, all of West Hartford who together are the entrepreneurs who built the successful The Hartford Denim Co. The fashion-forward jeansmakers are also active in their local Neighborhood Revitalization Zone.
-Erika Wilson, 32, Hartford, director of reporting and insights at Optum, a subsidiary of United Health Group. She founded an annual farmers’ market in Rocky Hill and is on the board of the sisters of St. Joseph of Chambery’s Mission Advancement Council, a member of the United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut Women’s Leadership Council.
-Jeffrey J. White, 34, Simsbury who is a partner and chair of Robinson & Cole’s appellate practice group. Chair of the Young Lawyers Section of the Connecticut Bar Association, the Judge Maxwell Heiman Memorial Award winner has worked with the Billings Forge Community Works and volunteers with the New England Air Museum.
-Michael D. Goldfarb, 34 of West Hartford is an attorney at Murtha Cullina. He is a member of the Connecticut Bar Association house of Delegates and a director of government relations for CBA’s young lawyers section.
-Carrie Titolo, 25, West Hartford is a member of the steering committee of the Young Women’s Leadership Program and is communications and events coordinator for the Connecticut Affiliate of the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure.
-Thomas Tedesco, 34, Glastonbury is director of business development for The Music People in Berlin.
-Jarrett Solomon, 32, West Hartford is sr. financial adviser and certified financial planner at Connecticut Wealth Management in Farmington. A mentor for Big Brothers Big Sisters, she is also a budget coach at Co-opportunity in Hartford.
-Jeff “Zeke” Zyjeski, 39, Avon is lawyer/lobbyist at Gaffney, Bennett & Associates.
-Taryn Mondi, 34, West Hartford is sr. vice president at Wells Fargo Advisors, a registered corporate coach and serves on the executive committee of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Connecticut chapter.

-Jeremy C. Lowe, 38, Hartford is a trail lawyer at the Hartford firm of Axinn, Veltrop & Harkrider whose pro bono efforts include Adoption from the Heart and the Hartford Rescue Mission.
-Carolyn Kuan, 34, Hartford is the Hartford symphony Orchestra’s first female conductor/director who, since being hired in 2011, has established the Discovery concerts for children and developed unique programming and collaborations to attract and expand symphony audiences.

For the entire list go here.

2012 Best of CT Announced

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It’s that time of year again when Connecticut Magazine announces its coveted “Best of Connecticut”  list.

The Hartford area did not fare badly with some repeat winners and some new ones as well, according to the list in the September issue.

Shady Glen in Manchester was deemed best cheeseburger; Wood-n-Tap best burger sliders; Grants Restaurant in West Hartford , best chocolate cake,  and Close Harbour Seafood in Southington, best Manhattan clam chowder.

Also in the foods category, Jojo’s in downtown Hartford was deemed best coffee bar, best crab cakes when to Carmen Anthony’s Steakhouse in Waterbury (although the crab cakes are available at all locations including Wethersfield location,) best Jewish deli, Rein’s New York-Style Deli and best diner, O’Rourke’s in Middletown.

On20 in downtown Hartford was deemed Best Bird’s Eye View at Dinner, Best Fried Chicken went to Greer’s in Bristol, and Best Guacamole, Besito in West Hartford. UConn Dairy Bar got the nod for Best Ice Cream and Hartford’s Carbone’s for best Caesar Salad. Best Cobb Salad went to Max Downtown in Hartford while Hartford’s  Salute won Best Side Dish for its mac’n cheese.

When it came to drinking, winners were Best Bloody Mary, Max Fish in Glastonbury ; Best Margarita, Coyote Blue in Middletown; the Cottage Restaurant in Plainville for Best Manhattan; Thomas Hooker Brewing for best Connecticut beer, and McKinnon’s West Hartford for Best Irish Pub.

Rooftop 120 was named Best Outdoor Bar, Sliders in Plainville for Best Sports Bar and Fleming’s in West Hartford for Best Wine By The Glass.

In the attractions category, Hartford’s  Connecticut Science Center won Best Indoor Family Amusement and Lake Compounce in Bristol, Best Outdoor Family Amusement.  New Britain Museum of American Art was named best Art Museum and Cinestudio in Hartford, Best Independent Cinema. New Britain Rock Cats was named Best Night at the Park, Artisan’s Marketplace in Plainville as Best Crafts Gallery, West Hartford Center as Best Destination Shopping, and Lux, Bond & Green in West Hartford,  Best Fine Jewelry Store.


For the complete list go to: http://bit.ly/U8DP6J