Tag Archives: on20

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.



RAW “Taste” Series Not Over Yet

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raw1 (2)Dinner included “l’ombre et lumiere” and “gargouillou,” dishes made famous by food legend Michael Bras and recreated Monday by On20 executive chef Jeffrey Lizotte and staff at Real Art Ways.

While the sold-out dinner was scheduled to be the last in RAW’s food-as-art inspired “Taste” series featuring  the film collection “Inventing Cuisine” and tasting plates by the area’s most popular local chefs, it’s not.

raw2 (2)“We are going to keep it going,” said RAW executive director Will Wilkins who was part of the crowd that at what was to be the last of the three-event series. “There are still a few more documentaries in the collection and we have other chefs who would like to come in and it has been so popular that we plan to resume it after Labor Day.”

Lizotte had it all under control as he prepared food for 100 included the vegetable mosaic “gargouillou” and the monk fish and black olive oil “l’ombre et lumiere” (light and dark) dish.

“Food is art and this series is wonderful,” said Lizotte. “I don’t think there is anything like it around.”raw3 (2)

raw4 (2)Among those at the dinner, hosted by food writer Rand Richards Cooper, was popular former staffer LB Munoz.

“I don’t work here anymore but I still want to support the programs,” said Munoz, whose date for the night was dad, Roberto Munoz.

CT Restaurants Make Wine Spectator Annual Award List

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griswoldConnecticut has been honored as part of  Wine Spectator’sesca newly released 2014 Restaurant Awards list, with several well-known area restaurants making the grade when it comes to their wine selections.

Among the CT restaurants included on the magazine’s list are Capital Grille, Viva Seasonal Trattoria , Max Downtown and the Restaurant On20, all in Hartford; Cava in Southington, Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse in Newington, 2 Hopewell in South Glastonbury, Flemings Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar in West Hartford, Kensington’s at The Spa at Norwich Inn, David Burke Prime Steakhouse at Foxwoods and Esca in Middletown.

Wine Spectator began its program to recognize and honor the world’s best wine lists in 1981. The 3,748 award winners for 2014 represent  50 U.S. states and over 80 other countries and territories.


The complete list of award winners is featured in the Aug 31 issue of the magazine, available on newsstands July 22.


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.


On 20 Lizotte Tapped As A “Best” By Food & Wine

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lizotteOn20 is well-known as one of Hartford’s premiere dining spots,  an award-winning restaurant with an impeccable gourmet pedigree and a drop-dead view of the city from its location on the 20th floor of The Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection & Insurance Company building at one State Street.

Now its executive chef, Jeffrey Lizotte, is being tapped by prestigious magazine and online site,  Food & Wine, in its fourth annual The People’s Best New Chef competition.

So get your online voting finger ready.

Lizotte is the only nominee from Connecticut and one of only 10 in New England, a press announcement notes. The People’s Best New Chef, an extension of the Food & Wine’s Best New Chefs award, honors talented up- and-coming innovators who have run their own kitchens for less than five years.

Lizotte,  a Connecticut native and Hartford resident, was named executive chef at the tony Hartford restaurant just over a year ago when then executive chef Noel Jones stepped down.

The field of 100 nominees for The People’s Best New Chef includes 10 chefs in 10 regions across America. The chef with the most votes in each region will be named a finalist; the finalist with the most votes overall will be named The People’s Best New Chef. The People’s Best New Chef finalists and winner will be revealed on April 2 online at foodandwine.com; the winner will also be featured in the July 2014 issue of Food & Wine. 

Restaurant devotees will determine The People’s Best New Chef winner on line here  beginning today and continuing through 5pm EDT on Monday, March 31.

“I’m honored that Food & Wine included me in this roster of talented chefs nationwide and thrilled at the opportunity to possibly bring this award to ON20, to Hartford, and to Connecticut,” says Lizotte.

Lizotte trained at various restaurants in New York and France before joining ON20 and being named Executive Chef in 2012. In the time since, he has been recognized as the state’s Best New Chef by Connecticut Magazine and one of the Hartford region’s most influential chefs by Hartford Magazine

Food, Wine, Art and Celeb Makes NBMAA Party A Top Shelf Success

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nbm1 (2)The New Britain Museum of American Art’s annual “Art of Food and Wine” fundraiser always draws a crowd what with its premium dine-around featuring foods from the area’s most prestigious restaurants and vendors pouring top shelf wines within the confines of one of the area’s most popular collections.

But this year there was a little added oomph to the event, a little celebrity power in the form of Gisene Bullock-Prado, the famed celebrity chef and cookbook author, who, by the way, happens to be the younger sister of actress Sandra Bullock.

“I’m glad to be here, this museum is beautiful,” said Bullock-Prado. Author of several cookbooks including her latest “Sugar Baby Cookbook,” Bullock-Prado, who lives in Hartford, Vermont, said there is yet another cookbook coming out but for now it’s a secret and will be released in 2014.

While the idea was to raise money for museum programs and at the same time enjoy the best ofnbm5 (2) the best when it comes to food, wine and art, it was also a chance to catch up on some restaurant comings and goings. Former “Hell’s Kitchen” contestant Van Hurd, who seemed to have disappeared for a while, is alive and well as sous chef for Jordan’s Caterer’s. Meanwhile for those who have wondered what happened to Hartford On20’s very capable general manager Marwan Idris, he too is alive and well but in a new venue. He has taken on similar duties at Arethusa al Tavolo in Bantam.

But not to worry. The service will still be impeccable at On20. Taking over there is Brett Bushong, who had been working at Millwright’s in Simsbury.

We cnbm6ouldn’t decide if it was just an overactive imagination but museum executive director Douglas Hyland seemed peppier than usual, if that is at all possible, and we found out why when he gushed about plans for a new wing at the museum.

“We have always wanted more gallery space and an education studio and that is what the new space will provide,” he explained about the two-story addition. Thanks to benefactors including business mogul and art collector Charles Hamm and his wife Irene, former Cadbury head Todd Stitzer and his wife Marenda, and some significant state money, groundbreaking is tentatively scheduled for March 2014.

“It’s been our vision,” said Hyland. “We can’t wait.”

For more pictures 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.

Boys, Girls, Fine Art, Flowers,White Coats Among Weekend Choices

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calendar_clip_art-1.29213820_std[1]It’s a busy weekend Hartford with lots of choices ranging from lawyers raising money for cancer to doctors honoring those who raise money for others.

On Thursday Hartford area lawyers will host its annual “Counsel Conquering Cancer”  at On20, 400 Columbus Blvd. in Hartford .

Some of Hartford’s most well-known chefs will be preparing food for the feast with proceeds benefiting the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center. Among the participating chefs are Tyler Anderson, Billy Grant, Sean Farrell, Stephen Cavagnaro, James Wayman and Jeffrey Lizotte.

For ticket information go to here.

Also on Thursday, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Hartford will hold its “2013 Opening the Door Gala ” at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford.  The evening includes honoring its four Hall of Fame inductees. Trudi White, Gregory Davis, Thomas Burns and Dr. Morris Jackson.   Martaluz Olang will be honored as its Youth of the Year. Information: bgchartford.org

On Friday, The Women’s Committee of the Wadsworth Atheneum will host its Farm-to-Table Dinner , one of several events that are part of its 32nd annual Fine Art & Flowers event. WNPR’s Faith Middleton is honorary chair, with featured guest,  floral designer Sarah Ryhanen. The evening includes local beers and wines, a onsite floral demonstration and a five-course dinner. Other events that are part of the weekend include a Farmers Markets on Friday and Saturday. a Saturday luncheon with tv personality Mar Jennings,  and  highlights tours throughout  the weekend. Information: 860-838-4100 or thewadsworth.org

wc3On Saturday, the University of Connecticut Foundation will hold its fourth annual “White Coat Gala” at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford. Receiving the Carole and Ray Neag Medal of honor will be the Chase Family, Dr. Thomas Taylor with a posthumous award to Dr Richard A. Garibaldi. Information:  foundaton.uconn.edu

hillstread2On Sunday, Gov. and Mrs. Dannel P. Malloy will celebrate 20 years of Hill-Stead Museum’s Sunken Garden Poetry Festival at a reception at the governor’s residence at 990 Prospect Ave. from 3 to 6 p.m.

The annual summer series on the museum grounds opens June 1.

Special guests will be former Connecticut poet laureate Marilyn Nelson and international best-selling author Frank Delaney.

Information: 860-677-4787, ext 134.


Noel Jones Onto A New (Private) Kitchen

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njones On the heels of more “best of” awards and rave review from the New York Times,  The Copper Beech Inn’s executive chef, Noel Jones, has announced he is moving on into a private kitchen.

Jones, who set the bar for eclectic, gourmet dining  at On20 in Hartford and earthier, home cooking  at the inn’s Brasserie Pip, has accepted a job as a private chef for a longtime customer.

“It’s a new opportunity” said Jones who left On20 last summer  and then took over the kitchen at the landmark Ivoryton restaurant. “I’m doing it because it was an opportunity that presented itself, it is a time for me to do something totally different and this made total sense.”

Jones, considered a celebrity chef who has received dozens of awards and exposure for his culinary skills, declined to identify his new employer except to say that he is a Connecticut business executive who has been a longtime fan.

Jones said the new position will not only allow more flexibility and a gentler work schedule, but will also allow him to do the kind of cooking he likes best.

“I won’t have to worry about the business side, just the cooking,” said Jones,  “I can decide what I am going to cook that day and go to the farm and local vendors for what I need, similar to what  I did in Ireland when I worked at a very small restaurant there.”

It will also afford Jones another opportunity as well.

njones2“I want to do more charitable work and the new work schedule will allow me to do that,”said Jones, who brother, diagnosed with leukemia,  is recovering from a bone marrow transplant.  Jones was the donor.

“I want to do more fundraisers for people with cancer,” he said. “I know what a financial drain that can be on a family. Insurance doesn’t cover everything,” he said. “I don’t want this to sound like some Hollywood story. I’m not looking for kudos. Just something I want to do.”

Jones said he will be at Copper Beech for a couple more weeks and that he is leaving behind a kitchen team that can step up until someone else is hired to take his place.

“And I have to say one thing,” he insisted as he takes his talent private after so many years in the public eye. “I am so honored and happy that I was able to treat people to really great food and memories,” he said.  “For those who did not have a good experience with my food, I am sorry for that. As a chef, I would drive home at night and if there was a negative comment about the food, that is the one I would think about and how to make it better.”

So will Jones ever come back to restaurant life?

“Never say never,” he said. “I am temporarily closing the door.”

Noel Jones Joins Copper Beech

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It’s barely been two weeks since word got out that famed celebrity chef Noel Jones had left his position as executive chef at On20, the downtown Hartford restaurant where food connoisseurs flocked.

But you can’t keep a good man, let alone  a talented chef, down for long.

Jones has joined  Ivoryton’s  Copper Beech Inn as a partner, and the man has big plans for the landmark inn and restaurant that will please his fans and his fans-to-be.

“I will do what I do, create with food,” said Jones,  often credited with bringing haute cuisine to Hartford,   “There will be one menu and there will be no French words that no one can understand,” said the internationally renowned chef known for his cutting-edge creations. “I am meeting with staff this week to create a menu,” he said. “I am excited about the new venture and can’t wait to get back in the kitchen.

His immediate plans for the inn known for its fine dining include upgrading the kitchen and integrating its well-known signature formal dining room and its newer and more casual dining option, the award-winning Brasserie Pip.

Jones said he will unveil the new menu on Aug. 29.

Can’t wait!