5 FAVORITE LOCAL SPOTS (OR: HOW TO GET DIAGNOSED WITH GOUT BEFORE AGE 25)
Something I really like about Gareth is that he loves to go out to eat and always encourages me to enjoy the delicious things in life. Unfortunately, I do not have the metabolism of a Givenchy model the way that he does so I have had to scale back the number of local nights out that we have and save them for special occasions.
When I do have a cheat meal/day/weekend/month, these are the Stamford-area places we frequent.
(~His and hers~ PC Gin Swizzles)
1) Valencia (Norwalk)
Located in a slightly seedy area of Norwalk, Valencia doesn’t look like much from the outside, but it has better South American cuisine than most of the restaurants we visited in Argentina or Uruguay. Focusing on their Venezuelan staples is recommended, whether you want something sweet like a Nutella and plantain empanada or decide to indulge in a savory Caprese arepa (a twist on the classic Italian appetizer-fresh mozzarella, tomato and basil-but wrapped inside of a buttery corn cake).
If you don’t have any alcoholic beverages with your meal, it should be easy to keep costs at or under $40 for 2 people. We usually gorge ourselves with 2-3 empanadas/arepas each and stay around that price point.
When we do opt for a boozy brunch, Gareth and I both usually get the PC Gin Swizzle, which is mostly sweet with a little tart kick to it. After a long week of salads and steamed vegetables, 2 PC Gin Swizzles usually have me slurring my way through the rest of the meal.
2) Remo’s (Stamford)
Remo’s is the best pizza place in Stamford. Probably best in Fairfield County too. Sometimes we eat at their restaurant on Bedford Street, but the wine list is small and we usually prefer to have our own vino pick, so “takeaway” (as Gareth calls it) is recommended if you live in the area. Regardless of where you eat it, if you want pizza in Stamford, don’t bother with Riko’s, Colony or anywhere else. Remo’s is the best.
3) Bar Rosso (Stamford)
Bar Rosso is my favorite place for non-pizza-based Italian food in Stamford. They have the best cocktails in the downtown area and lots of succulent little tapas-style Italian bites to share with friends or a significant other. My absolute favorite Bar Rosso treat would be the truffle fries, which are the perfect way to crush a salt craving. I also really like the eggplant caponata served with Sardinian flatbread and the endive dish, fattened up with gorgonzola, walnuts and honey. The pizza isn’t bad either (although nothing matches up to Remo’s!) The one thing that is bad about Bar Rosso is the price… I don’t think I’ve ever had a check for 2 people which was less than $80 and I’ve always had relatively small dinners where we shared everything.
(Tucked into a cozy booth at Darien Social for Gareth’s birthday dinner!)
4) Darien Social (Darien)
Whenever we have a Darien night, our plan is to head to Bodega (Mexican place with great drinks but usually too crowded and not enough vegetarian options) or The Goose (love the lodge-like atmosphere in the wintry months) for drinks, followed by Darien Social for dinner. Everyone at Darien Social is very friendly, as their goal is to make it an upscale yet comfortable neighborhood restaurant where people know your name. They do a good job at segregating families with kids or couples on a date from rambunctious drunk groups, which is appreciated by all demographics. Not only is their wild mushroom pizza (with truffles and honey) absolutely amazing, it is only $13, which is more than fair considering the quality and location. As a self-proclaimed pizza addict, this is my usual selection, but their menu has a large variety of choices from fish tacos to fried chicken and waffles to bacon and Gruyere mac and cheese, all of which have been happily scarfed down by Gareth.
5) ZAZA Gastrobar (Stamford)
ZAZA has the best ambiance of any Italian restaurant in Stamford, punctuated with cool red glass chandeliers and black-and-white Italian movies perpetually projected on one of the walls. Unfortunately, it is a fairly small space and some of the tables in the center are shared between random couples, which I don’t find palatable (PUN INTENDED). When we can’t get a good table (and annoyingly, they don’t take reservations), then we just get take-out from Remo’s next door rather than awkwardly share a table with randoms. For me, there is only 1 real stand-out dish from ZAZA, which is the butternut squash gnocchi. It is sublime, heavenly and worth-having-cellulite-for, but weirdly, only offered as an appetizer. I also like their crispy artichokes and wild mushroom risotto, but the butternut squash gnocchi is the main reason to go.