The Best Thing You Ever Ate… In Connecticut -- Readers' Choices

On this foodiest of food days, we give thanks to the many wonderful people and places in the state making great dishes, and to our readers, who took the time to salute their favorites, some deservedly well-acclaimed, others little-known treasures.

We asked. You answered. Passionately.


What's the best thing you ever ate in Connecticut?

Ruth Kiczuk of Rocky Hill calls the


Tomato Tart Tartare

with Basil Whipped Cream


The Pond House


in West Hartford "awesome! Best ever."

Jeanine Rivard of Portland says one of the best things she's ever eaten in Connecticut are the

Stuffed Squash Blossoms




in Hartford.

From Anne Eglinton in Bloomfield: "The best thing I have ever eaten in Connecticut is the


Warm Roasted Eggplant and Wonton Napoleon


Arugula Bistro

in West Hartford Center."

"I have to say the most delicious thing I had ever eaten — and I mean by far — was the

Portabella Mushroom Appetizer


Captain Daniel Packard's Inn

in Mystic," says Sonia Petrella. "It consisted of an extra large portabella mushroom topped with cream cheese and a crabmeat stuffing."

"Have you tried the

French Fried Eggplant

with accompanying shredded parmesan cheese and marinara sauce at

Joe Pizza

in Canton and Avon?" asks Joan Sereda of Bloomfield. "It's to die for! I mean it."

Len Smith of Glastonbury calls the

Maytag Bleu Chips


J. Gilberts

in Glastonbury "simply the best appetizer I have had."


Potato Goat Cheese Tart


Metro Bis

in Simsbury is "absolutely incredible," says Peter Foley of Canton. "Just brought a friend there from out of state. He was stunned. You have to try it."


Tuna Roll


Tokyo Café

in Newington is the best thing Michelle Cyr of Newington says she's ever eaten in Connecticut.

Caragh Germano of Newington raves about the

Asian Glazed Short Ribs

at the

Spicy Green Bean

in Glastonbury. "They are the most amazing, tender, fall-off-the-bone, mouth-watering delight you could eat! Perfectly braised, and coated with a sticky, sweet, somewhat spicy magical concoction you could die for! We recently dined there for a friend's birthday and one of my friends said he would sell himself on the street for an order of those! I offered the chef/owner my firstborn for the recipe; fortunately for my son, she declined. Throw in my favorite dessert in Connecticut — the

Coconut Ricotta Cupcake

— and you have the best eating experience in Connecticut!"

And Lucy DiNardi of Newington says the

Fresh Figs Stuffed With Goat Cheese Wrapped in Prosciutto,

a grilled appetizer at the

Spicy Green Bean

in Glastonbury, are "to die for."

Ryan Jones from

The Mill at 2T

in Tariffville "makes the most amazing


," says Lori Meyerson. "They're like pillows that melt in your mouth! His

Corn Souffle

is also killer."

Sandra Dunn of Manchester says one of the most memorable dishes she's ever had is the

Beef Carpaccio

served at



in Manchester. "It is a peppercorn-crusted seared beef, lightly laced with truffle oil. It's presented with arugula and shaved parmesan. The dish is a standing favorite on their menu. It is always consistantly delicious, and might I add, I always crave more!"

Cheryl Sanderson of Columbia chooses

Cate's Pizza

, a cheese pizza topped with bacon, cheddar and french fries, served at

Campion's Pizza

in South Windsor.

Daniel Phillips of Clinton says his favorite dish is the

Escarole e Faggioli

over Freselles


Franco's Ristorante Italiano

in East Haven. "I have ordered the same dish at other restaurants, but the best is at Franco's."

Steven Smith of Plainville says the best thing he ever ate in the state is the

Crisp Chicken and Shrimp With Honey Walnuts,

served with sesame sauce and lemon crème,


Chings Table

in New Canaan.

A repeat favorite: James Combo Marino of East Hartford says the

Buffalo Bits


Adams Mill

in Manchester are "one of the best foods I have ever tried in Connecticut."

Kelsey Kermode of Broad Brook also names the

Buffalo Bits

as the favorite dish, with "Joe's homemade blue cheese."

Deb Farrow of East Haddam votes for

Seared Sirloin Salad

served at the

Tuscany Grill

in Middletown. "It has romaine, tomatoes, kernels of corm, seared beef, thick, rich, blue cheese dressing and a generous amount of thinly sliced fried onion rings on top. Their

Eggplant Tower

isn't bad either."

"I will tell you that the best burgers in Northwest Connecticut are at the

Swingin' Parrott Pub

, on the border of Barkhamsted and Winsted, by far," declares Debbie Brydon of Pleasant Valley. "My favorite is the

Asian Wasabi Burger


Sweet Potato Fries

. The chef, Chris Parrott, is a master at most everything he makes, but his burgers are the best."

David Dyson of West Hartford says: "The best thing I ever ate in Connecticut was the

Eggplant Grinder


Maple Giant

in Hartford. The combination of breaded eggplant, red peppers, melted provolone and sauce is delicious."

Mary McCaffrey of West Hartford says the best thing she ever ate in Connecticut are the



La Fonda Restaurante

in Hartford. "Each is handmade and comes with either chicken or beef inside. Served hot with their own fresh-made salsa (which is by far the best I have ever had as well), these are perfect for either an appetizer or a meal."

Denise Fote says she loves everything at

Carbone's Restaurant

in Hartford —

Beef Wornoff, Spinach Salad


Bocci Balls

— "but my favorite is

Chicken Lacava,

followed by

Banana Flambée


Robyn Hall of Vernon also is a fan of Carbone's and singles out the Hartford restaurant's

Veal Cuscinetto

as "amazing and absolutely the best thing I have eaten in Connecticut."

"Without question," agrees Marily Ridolfo of Rocky Hill, "the choice is

Veal Cuscinetto


Carbone's Ristorante

in Hartford."

Todd Sipala of West Hartford says the best thing he's ever had in his town is the

Spicy Pho


Pho Tuong Lai

, "served only on Fridays and for a short time on Saturdays (until it's gone)."




Le Petit Café

in Branford are Dean Nevelos' top choice. "The menu description — just to make you drool — goes like this: 'Sauteed French escargot served with blue cheese (Premium French Roquefort 'Carles') — Cognac sauce on herb accented puff pastry.' "

Nancy Rossi of West Hartford says: "For me and my family it's Hartford's

Costa del Sol's

Pa Amb Tomàquet



Catalan Bread.

We lived in Barcelona for three years not too long ago, and we love Pepe's version of our favorite Catalan food. His

Crema Catalana (Catalan Dessert Custard)

is great too. And he and his chefs bring their family's exquisite Galician touch to every fish. … Hartford is so lucky to have true, authentic Spanish/Iberian '

Mediterranean diet

' cuisine right here in the city."

Yvonne B. Krosky of Rocky Hill — who notes that she was born in Wroclaw, Poland — says the "absolute best food in Connecticut" are the



Cracovia Restaurant

in New Britain — both those made with sauerkraut, mushrooms, farmer's cheese and potatoes, and the fruit-stuffed pierogis. She also praises Cracovia's

Cheese Blintzes

and its

Potato Pancakes with Meat Goulash.

Eileen Bonetti of Farmington says the best thing she's ever had here is the

Roast Chicken with Dried Fruit and Almonds

, which she learned to make at the Fig Cooking School in Hamden. "Not only was the class sophisticated and fun, you get to eat the food you prepared at the end. The style is sophisticated, easy and delicious."

Maeve Neiswanger of South Windsor says the best thing she's ever had in Connecticut is the

Crispy Cheese Platter


Shady Glen,

with two locations in Manchester. "I'm sure the burgers that they're famous for are good as well, but seeing as I'm a


I'm all about the cheese."

Devon Schwartz of Burlington "recently went to the


in Farmington and ordered their

Veggie Hummus Wrap

with their

Sweet Potato Fries

. Not only was the wrap delicious, but also the fries were a great change from the regular fries. I would highly suggest this dish and it was nice to see something slightly different on the menu."


John Proctor of Ivoryton say the best thing he ever ate in Connecticut was a 1.5-pound

Boiled Lobster


Abbott's Lobster in the Rough

in Noank. "It was superb. I am certain the taste was influenced by the restaurant's location on the Mystic River and the beautiful weather we experienced while eating at the outside picnic tables. We have brought many friends to Abbott's and all have agreed, it was their best lobster ever."

Sheryl Salvatore of Southington replies: "I have eaten many wonderful things in Connecticut but my love for

Crab Cakes

keeps me on the constant lookout. Hands down, the best crab cakes I have ever eaten are at

Otter Cove

in Old Saybrook. They serve them with a bed of a jimaca/apple slaw. It is fabulous!"


Lobster Bisque


Flanders Fish Market & Restaurant

in East Lyme was a repeat winner, the favorite choice of Bud Volz and Carole Gardino Volz, both of New Britain.

Pamela Balkus of Ashford says the

Asian Tuna


Chaplin's Restaurant

in New London is "the best tuna ever! … The tuna had a beautiful blackened crust, topped with a mango chutney, mixed with juicy blackberries. The whole tuna steak rested on top of a sweet cream sauce, which complimented the tuna and fruit flavors wonderfully." It was served with roasted garlic, mashed potato and in-season vegetables, she says. "I was almost dancing in my seat, it was so good. To top off the evening we all shared a wonderful

Strawberry Shortcake

and a sinfully rich

Chocolate Mousse

served in a champagne flute." She adds that the restaurant's

Chicken Cordon Bleu

"melted in your mouth" and that the

Seafood Alfredo

was "wonderfully rich."

Barbara Corcoran of Clinton says that, "hands down," the best thing she's ever eaten in Connecticut is a dish called

Siete Mares

(Seven Seas) at

Puerto Vallarta

in Middletown. "It is a Mexican seafood soup that contains vegetables, shrimp, clams, mussels, scallops, octopus and crab in a broth that is straight from your grandmother's kitchen. You don't just get 'samplings' of the seafood — this dish is huge and just awesome."

Sarah Wheeler of Ellington chooses the

Chilean Sea Bass


Hazard Grille

in Enfield.


Whole Belly Fried Clams

at the

Sea Swirl

in Mystic "melt in your mouth!" says Liz Irace of Wethersfield. "They've been my favorite for 25 years!"


Shrimp Scampi Appetizer


Dimitri's Restaurant

in Coventry "totally makes you want to lick your plate after you eat it," says Debbie Myette of Bolton. "Five perfectly succulent large shrimp in a light creamy, cheesy garlic sauce with capers to boot," are served atop sliced chiabatta bread that is rubbed with garlic and butter and toasted. "My mouth is watering!"

"I love the

Calamari Napoletan


Ludal's Restaurant

in North Haven," says Claire Skrzyszowski of Hamden. "The calamari is delicately fried and always tender. It is coated with a tomato sauce containing pignoli nuts and capers. They also serve the traditional

Fried Calamari with Marinara Sauce,

which is also spectacular."

"The most delectable dish I have had in recent years," says Kathy Olson of Meriden, is the

Grilled Red Snapper

at the

Primavera Pub

in Hartford. "It's truly the best fish I have had in any of the seven continents I have traveled and at a very reasonable price. I go there just to enjoy this wonderful treat."

Judith and James Bonk of Farmington say they are not fans of lobster salad, but the

Lobster Salad Roll


Dog Watch Café

in Stonington "has changed our minds. It is very lightly dressed with generous amounts of lobster meat. Delicious! Can't beat the restaurant's view either!"

The best thing

Cindy Lincoln

of Glastonbury says she ever ate in Connecticut is the

Hot Lobster Roll



in Noank.

From Sandra Benjamin of Tolland: "The best thing I've eaten in Connecticut is the

Hot Calamari Salad


Trattoria da Lepri

in Ellington. Scrumptious!"

Dan Casey of Guilford recently tried

Augie's Restaurant

in Branford: "I had the

Split Lobster Stuffed With Crab

and my guest had a scallop dish; both were awesome. We also had a couple of apps and deserts that were excellent as well. We are going there weekly now and they just keep getting better. … A great dining experience."

Arline "Pat" Hunt of West Charleston, Vt., who grew up in West Hartford, says she goes to

Hales Shad House

by the ferry boat dock in Rocky Hill every year in May to buy a few pairs of

shad roe

to eat and freeze.


"The best thing I ever ate," says Lindsey Volz of New Britain, "is the

Lobster, Avocado and Bacon Club Sandwich

on brioche at

Michael Jordan's Sports Bar

at Mohegan Sun in Uncasville."

Beach Street Sandwiches

in Madison has a veritable cheering section. Claire and Andrew Conde from Brooklyn, N.Y., and Madison; Liz Fortune from Clinton; Brian H. Fortune from New York City and James Pepitone of Madison all give the nod for top honors to Beach Street's


Smoked Ham and Cheese Sandwich.

"Delicious!" say Claire and Andrew. Brian Fortune also praises the



Café Routier

in Westbrook.

Peter Tiernan of West Hartford says the best thing he ever ate was the

Grilled Cheese and Lobster Sandwich

during lunch at


restaurant in West Hartford.

Diane Manville raves about the


served at the

Ivoryton Tavern

in Ivoryton. "The corned beef is so tender! And, the sandwich is big enough to share!" She also praises the

Hot Lobster Roll

there, as well as Chef Doug — "a great chef and very personable; he comes around to talk to the patrons and is quite funny."


"The best thing I ever ate in Connecticut," says Michelle P. Collins, "is not the fanciest of choices, but the

Loaded Nachos


Side Street Grille

in Hamden are out-of-this-world delicious. They even layer the nachos with cheese and toppings so you don't end up with a pile of soggy, topping-less nachos after the top layer has been eaten. Genius."

Phyllis Pekari of East Hampton says the

Baked Ziti


Lido's Restaurant

in Meriden is her best thing. "Sounds simple, I know, but it is delicious."

David D. Driscoll of Goshen says the

Meat Loaf Dinner


The Village Restaurant

in Litchfield is his favorite: "Huge portion, killer gravy over mashed potato."

"The best thing I ever ate in Connecticut is the

Pot Roast


Windsor 75 Diner

in Windsor," says Holly Beum of Simsbury. "Now, before you wrinkle your nose at my apparently plebian tastes," she says, she notes that she has tried grass-fed calf pot roast at a trendier establishment "and received mostly a mouthful of fat for my effort." She adds that her answer would have been different had this question been posed 25 years ago, when "I was absolutely gaga for the slew of new Vietnamese restaurants that had popped up all over Connecticut."

As a vegetarian, Katherine Ryan of Simsbury says she's had her share of veggie burgers, most just average efforts that you can take or leave. "One of my favorite meals that stands out for me" is the

Veggie Burger


Plan B Burger Bar

in Simsbury, "one that I look forward to as a treat." It's served with "a side of lightly salted crisp green beans instead of French fries" and topped with a "delicious deli-style pickle."


For some people, it can be hard to narrow it down to just one best thing…

Rose Voorvaart of Granby offers a list of top Connecticut choices: the



Town Farm Dairy

in Simsbury (no longer in operation); the baked goods at

Michael's Bakery

in East Hartford; the

Cheddar Cheese Bagel


Brookside Bagels

in Simsbury; the

Fried Clam Strips

(not bellies) at

New England Pizza

in Granby; the

Lemon Drop Martini


The Meadow

in Simsbury; the



Vito's by the Lake

in Windsor; and finally, the

Jamaican Beef Patties


Coco Bread


Golden Crust

in Hartford.

The Powers family conferred and also came up with multiple choices: Scott Powers, The Courant's deputy sports editor, commends the


at the

Red Rock Tavern

in Hartford as "amazingly and surprisingly great — really, try 'em," as well as the

Wizard of Oz Pizza


Mulberry Street Pizza

in Manchester, with a "bronze medal" to the



Black-eyed Sally's

in Hartford. His wife, Michele Powers, chooses the

Strawberry Ice Cream

at the

UConn Dairy Bar

in Storrs. Daughter Victoria Powers' favorites are the

Chicken Fajitas


El Sarape

in Hartford, followed by the



Shady Glen

in Manchester. And her sister Jane Powers chooses the



Agave Grill

in Hartford and the

Cheesey Bread



in Hartford.

Teresa Lovejoy of New Hartford says she had to pick two best things: First, the



Lombardi's Bakery

in Torrington. "They are just awesome, made fresh to order. I have been frequenting Lombardi's for about 30 years; that is where I first discovered canoli, and I have yet to find any other baker that can match them." And in the realm of restaurants, the best

Greek Salad

she has ever eaten in Connecticut is at

Athena's Family Restaurant

in New Hartford. "I never order them when I'm anywhere else, because nothing can compare to the way Harry Nicholas makes them. There's just something about his Greek salads — I think it's the house dressing, but also the feta cheese he uses is always just right, and the other ingredients are pretty scrumptious, too."

Lillian R. Handleman of South Windsor says she and her husband "have certain restaurants we go to just for specific favorites." Their picks for best menu items: the

Pizza Bianca


Teddy's Pizza

in Vernon; the

Key Lime Pie




in South Windsor; and the

Spring Rolls


The Lotus

in Vernon.

"Two dishes, both luncheon, make my mouth water every time I think of them," says Lotte Hershfield of West Hartford. "The first is a

Lamb Stew

in a thick wine gravy served at

Metro Bis

in Simsbury; the other is

Roasted Salmon

with parsley and lemon butter served at the Corner Pug in the Elmwood section of West Hartford."

A La Carte restaurant blogger Leeanne Griffin offers these two suggestions: The

Cato Corner Farm Cheese


Cato Corner Farm

in Colchester "is nothing short of spectacular. Well worth the hefty price tag." And the

Seven Deadly Sins Sushi Roll


Miya's Sushi

in New Haven: "Banana, peanut butter, strawberries and chocolate topped with hand-churned rose petal ice cream. One bite runs you around $8. It's worth it."

Susan Sarvay of West Hartford says she used the opportunity of a three-day conference at Yale to explore New Haven's restaurant scene. "We had a divine meal at


, starting with a

Guacamole and Seafood Ceviche

that was the best I ever tasted. The next night we had the

White Clam Pizza



and more nirvana ensued. In my own town of West Hartford, I consider the

Grana Padano-Crusted Filet of Sole


Max's Oyster Bar

the best preparation of that fish I have encountered."

"My friends consider me a food critic and I guess I do as well," says Susan O'Dell of Windsor. Her choices include the "absolutely wonderful"

Free-Range Chicken

with mashed potatoes and almond green beans at


Firebox Restaurant

in Hartford; the

Stuffed Squash Blossoms (Fiore di Zucchini) appetizer


Free-Range Chicken




in Hartford, "the best

Baked Stuffed Shrimp

that I had ever eaten at


Bar & Grill

in Hartford, and on a more casual note, if one wants Polish food, at a very reasonable price,


in Windsor Locks has great




"Perfection," Ona McLaughlin of Durham says of the

Arugula Pizza

served at

Lorenzo's Ristorante


in West Haven, "just over the line from that other famous pizza town." It isn't always on the menu, she says, so ask for it. "Chewy crust, fresh arugula, shaved parmesan. Why would someone who lives in Durham drive to West Haven to have dinner? Because Lorenzo's is a fabulous family-run Italian restaurant."

Christopher LaValle, of Neapolitan and Calabrese descent and a self-described expert on

Eggplant Parmigiana

, gives top honors to

Carmella's Restaurant

in East Hartford.

John Misselwitz of Cromwell concurs: "The best


I've ever eaten — and I mean the one-fourth of me that is my Italian stomach — is the eggplant served with talent and love at


If you go, order bread, too — as


, by itself, any way you can convince the help — it'll deliver you to the Elysian Fields."



dishes at

Bin 228

in Hartford are tops in the opinion of Paul Murdock of Windsor Locks. "One taste of this creamy, cooked-to-perfection creation takes you to Nona's kitchen in a little village in Italy. Be it the risotto with crimini mushrooms and mascarpone or with grilled shrimp, sun-dried tomato pesto and argula chiffonade or as simple as sweet peas and sauage, it is not to be missed. Bin 228 gets it right every time!"

Veal Parmigiana




in Meriden is the favorite of Pat Kelly of Plainville.

"It doesn't get any better than the

Portabella Eggplant Torte

served by

Zocco's Italian Restaurant

" in Windsor, report Mary McQuarrie and Sallie Herson. "Mushroom, eggplant and luscious caramelized onions and tomatoes are layered over a bed of creamy risotto. The dish is flavored to perfection and finished with a sprig of rosemary for a five-star yum rating. We should add that every dish we've tried at Zocco's has been fabulous, but this is a particularly delicious addition to our mostly vegetarian diet."

Jim Olihan of East Granby chooses the

Veal Parmigiana

dinner at

J & G Restaurant

in East Granby.


"I have had wonderful meals in Connecticut at some great restaurants, so so many things came to mind, but one dessert stood out," says Vanessa Jennings of Rocky Hill. "The



Peppercorn's Grill

in Hartford is one of the most amazing desserts that I ever had. The most amazing part to me is that I never cared for Tiramisu!" She says she reluctantly tried it when it was part of an assortment of other desserts at a party. "I figured, hey, why not? The filling was so creamy and silky and the lady fingers were just the right texture, not oversoaked like I always experienced. The added hint of espresso and cocoa made this one of the most delectable desserts I ever tasted. … I knew I would be back for dinner and will always save room for the Tiramisu."

Stephanie Begen of Rocky Hill also names a

Peppercorn's Grill

dessert as the best thing she ever ate in Connecticut: the

Warm Chocolate Bread Pudding

with Bourbon Sauce.

"Clearly the best dessert in Connecticut for the chocolate-obsessed is the

Voodoo Cake



in West Hartford!" says Sherry Schreiber of West Hartford. "It is a hands-down winner! I have eaten chocolate cake all over the world, and Voodoo reigns supreme!"

"The best dish I've ever eaten in Connecticut is

Ice Cream


Tulmeadow Farms

in Simsbury, says Arleen Kline Stierer of Farmington. "My husband is a chef so I've eaten many memorable dishes at home, but Tulmeadow's ice cream is wonderful."

Lindy Brownell of New Jersey, who often visits her parents in Connecticut, singles out the

Chocolate Mousse Cake


Ovens of France

in Woodbury, as well as the

Poached Salmon


The Pantry

in Washington Depot. Her daughter Julia Brownell, also visiting from New Jersey, adds: "I vote for



Phillips Diner


Dottie's Diner

] in Woodbury."


French Toast


O'Rourkes Diner

in Middletown is the best thing Karen Howard of New Britain ever ate in Connecticut. "It was homemade chocolate banana bread with bananas O'Rourke in the middle and homemade clotted cream — with almond syrup on top. I will never forget it."

J. Robinson says that the

Italian Ice


Vecchitto's Italian Ice

in Middletown is "the best Italian ice I've ever eaten. I have sampled Italian ices all across Connecticut and found this one to be the best Italian. Perfect texture, temperature and flavor. Try the almond for a real wow!"


And the memories live on. The best thing Patricia Lutkus Miller ever ate in Connecticut was "the fabulous

Nantucket Scallops

at the wonderful but now sadly closed

Randall's Ordinary

in North Stonington.

Mary Dangremond of Old Lyme recalls the

Passion Fruit Soufflé

from Michel and Cynthia Keller at the much-missed

Restaurant du Village

in Chester.

My brother Tim in Washington, D.C., says the best thing he ever ate in Connecticut was "


Grandmother's Meatloaf

with her homemade relish."

And Christopher Saunders of North Granby recalls: "The best

Eggplant Parmesan

I ever had was at


on Franklin Avenue in Hartford next to the fire station. Unfortunately, much to my family's dismay, the business closed several years ago. I usually got it in a grinder with perfectly roasted peppers. The eggplant was thinly cut and breaded with a delicate blend of spices and olive oil. It was an exquisite treat that we always looked forward to. We met the woman who used to make the eggplant so that we could thank her. She was a lovely woman, too. I am almost reluctant to order eggplant at even the finest of restaurants because it always falls short of Vinny's. It was simply the best!"

Want to weigh in with more favorites? We're keeping the conversation going at my blog, CT DIGS. Go to to add your comments.