I’ve been planning to review the restaurants in Ridgefield for a few months now. One of the reasons it took me this long is that I don’t like to eat out a lot. I always have food at home and I would much rather eat my home cooked, simple, fresh, and boldly tasty food than have a mediocre meal at some place and pay 20 times more.
When I think of where to go for breakfast, there is no better place than my home, because I can make better eggs with spinach and cheese with the side of asparagus, avocado toast with radishes and hemp seeds, the best farm grown tomatoes that I buy from local farm, drizzled with the best olive oil which I get from the olive oil club. I can even make better sweet oatmeal with cinnamon, maple syrup and home made apple sauce or savory version of it with sausages and spinach.
However, if you can’t make it at home, there’s always Early Bird Cafe, homey and cozy place where you can get fresh omelet with cheese, tasty pancakes and ok coffee and it’s not expensive. There’s also a bakery called Ross’ Bread, even though Ross isn’t the owner of the place anymore. If you like freshly baked croissants, muffins and scones, you’ll like the place, just be ready for the very slow service and you might need to ask someone to wipe down a table.
If you are looking for something quick and tasty, like generic American food, visit Tony’s Corner Deli, their Bacon egg and cheese sandwich is one of the best. I tried it myself and the egg yolk was perfectly runny, bacon was crispy and toasted bun was fine as well. I’ve heard good things about Parma Deli sandwiches from my family but never tried it myself. I think that Ridgefield needs a good all-day breakfast places more than pizza places which we have more than necessary.
I want to start with my favorites. First one that comes to my mind is Bartolo. I’ve been there only three times, but always very happy with their food, service, and overall atmosphere. I love the idea of the owner being the chef. It shows that he cares more about the food and wants his guests to be extremely happy since he is the creator of the dishes. I also like that the sitting room area and kitchen are divided by a glass wall and you can see the chef working there and he can see you enjoying the food. If he is like me and checks the faces of the people after they try the first bite, he must enjoy that view too. The marinara sauce they bring with slices of bread is outstanding and their fresh pasta is made there; every dish is just bursting with flavor and love. Prices are reasonable, and service is very personal.
My second favorite place is Bailey’s Backyard. I’ve been there three times as well. First time was right after I moved to Ridgefield from Georgia. It was American bistro style place and was ok. Few years later, Sal turned it into a farm to table restaurant and hired a new chef. Don’t fully remember my second time there 3 years ago, but can’t forget the third visit where we had tasting menu consisting of 4 outstanding courses. I love small portions; this way you can experience all different flavors, if you are with someone, you can try their food too and it’s a great pleasure and fun. I won’t discuss every course I tried there, but I can tell the food is one of the best, prepared with respect, care, and love.
I don’t have a third favorite place, though newly opened Village Tavern happily surprised me with well prepared tuna tartar with cucumber (very balanced and fresh) and fried calamari, which surprisingly not everyone can make it right. I could tell someone was paying attention to prepare those dishes really well.
There are plenty of mediocre places with bland and same old boring food, that most of the Americans are happy to eat every day. Out of several pizza places, my favorite is 850 which had really decent pizza and other well done dishes. I love their outdoor sitting area during summer time.
Another pizza place I checked out recently was Bleeker Street Pizza, which opened recently and you would think in small town like ours, where there are more than enough pizza places, they would do something really outstanding. Nope. You go in there and you feel nothing, no one welcomes you, there’s no music or anything that lightens up the mood. With their boring and sad looking tables and chairs, the place looks like a diner. Because I was by myself, I ordered few things to try. I knew, I wouldn’t finish all of it but this way, I could taste their food and see how it was. Pizza was ok, nothing special or outstanding or even different. Eggplant parmesan was tasty and I really enjoyed it. The worst dish was fried calamari. They were so greasy that I could only taste 2 pieces; my mouth was coated with oil. Even though I told the girl about it when she asked me how the food was, she didn’t really do anything about it. She thanked me though. I was burping all day after that meal.
Sucre Sale has a great location and space inside. I went there with David and my friend on Wednesday night when they have unlimited mussels and fries. They offer mussels in four different ways, we picked three different ones, they all tasted pretty much the same, even the spicy one. I make mussels at home and it’s not that hard. I pick my own mussels at Westport beach, bring them home, David cleans them, and I prepare the dish in white wine, garlic, cilantro, red pepper and salt. So, compared to my mussels Sucre Sale’s mussels didn’t impress me at all.
My mussels and home made speatzle.
I’ve been to Luke’s and Terrasole few times, but not crazy about either one of them except that their dishes are overpriced.
The worst sandwich I’ve had was at the Village Deli near CVS. I don’t know why I even decided to go there. I was in the area and thought I’d give it a try since I was very hungry. I ordered a chicken sandwich with cheese and roasted peppers (not sure if I could play it safer). The place inside is quiet, sad and acquires no welcome or any character; I should have left right away. Instead, I paid $8.00 for the sandwich that I threw in the garbage after the first bite because chicken was dry and probably fried two days ago and reheated for me. I should have brought it back and ask for my money back, but those girls behind the counter seemed so sad that I didn’t want to make their day even worse.
Another horrible experience I had was at Heibeck’s Stand which is near Caraluzzi on root 7. I pass that place almost every day and it seemed very cute. So, one day I stopped and ordered basic fish taco. I sat outside enjoying the sun and anticipating for my tacos and when they arrived, I was stunned for few minutes, I didn’t expect anyone could put dry, brown shredded salad mix on top of fish tacos. I was so upset that I took it back and asked for my money back. Even worse, the guy was surprised what was wrong with that and after I explained, he said they don’t shred it themselves, they buy already shredded and packaged salad mix, as if that was an excuse.
Lastly, if you don’t mind to drive outside of Ridgefield, I have couple of great breakfast/brunch places for you: The Outpost in Bedford, everything is grown locally and meat is from John’s farm in Berkshire, excellent food, coffee and you can buy some farm fresh produce on your way back home.
Another my favorite place around is Sugar and Olives in Norwalk, who has absolutely fantastic pancakes and everything else, great sitting room, though my favorite is siting on the bar and watching the chef cooking right in front of me.
I sometimes drive 40 minutes to Darien ar Espresso Neat for a cup of perfect coffee.
To be continued…