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Apr 27, 2007 01:23 PM

Norwalk CT area restaurants/groceries/butchers

Moving from the West Village to Norwalk CT area for my husband's job. We're excited to leave the city for lots of reasons, but are a little worried about the restaurant and food-shopping options (mostly food-shopping at this point because we have a 3-week old daughter). Any recommendations?

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  1. Take a deep breath and relax, it's fine up here in the hinterlands on fairfiled county.

    Large Grocers - Norwalk is pretty big, so let's give you the biggies first. Stew Leonards, quite an experience and 3-week old will grow to love the sing animals throughout the store and the petting zoo in the parking lot. Go at off hours but huge selection of meats, produce, freshly baked bread, fish, it has everything. Quality you'll have to judge. Many go to Costco as well. You will find many threads about the meats and fishes and produce on CH. Do a search on the Chains. Sop & Shop and Shop Rite are also in town on Route 1 and Main St.

    Other smaller grocers around and my favorite grocery is on route 7 north of the merritt and north of the DMV (you'll get the lingo soon.) Called Zeytania (in the strip mall with Boston market). An old time butcher with beef, pork and chicken (no veal). Likewise some fish. Produce is great as well and the best olive bar around. Fish - my favorite is in stamford, New Wave Seafood off route 106. Wholesale plus a retail area. They sell to many of the restos in the area. You can not beat their $14/lb shrimp cocktail.

    Bakeries - Congrats, the best bakery in FFD county is in Norwalk down off Ater St called SONO Bake Shop. The owners used to work for Martha Stewart and they are great without her you know what. The flourless chocolate cake is a 10+ and they have tons of bread choices.

    Restos - Congrats again. There is a section of town called South Norwalk, we call it SONO. Fantastic restos. Ocean Drive, Barcelona, Habana, on and on. They are all 8-10's and can offer sushi, Thai, fish, Tapas, Cuban, etc. This area will remind you most of NY. Just be a little careful after 930-1000 as it change a little. Do a search as well on the Tri-State Board.

    Post specific questions. There are a few of us who can answer almost anything you can ask on food in FFD.

    Welcome aboard.

    13 Replies
    1. re: jfood

      There are certainly worse places to move to from a food perspective than Norwalk! It's actually quite good up here in FFC.

      I concur with all that jfood said. I live 15 minutes down the road but still go to Stew's weekly for many items. In particular, their dairy products are far superior than any of the supermarkets. Their milk, creams, butter, etc., are wonderful. Produce and meats are slightly above normal groceries, though certainly not as good as you'd find in a good butcher shop or farmers market.

      Costco is always good for big staple items, though I've found I shop for food there very infrequently. I'll defer more chat on Costco items for the GT board. But I find better meats at Stew's, or, my new favorite every day meat source, Shop Rite in Stamford.

      As for restaurants, there are lots of good options nearby. Search for SoNo and you'll get lots of recs. There is also a pretty good latin food scene in Norwalk, with good mexican, venezuelan, ecuadorian and peruvian choices.

      1. re: adamclyde


        If you like the Shop Rite in stm (i guess Shippan) then you may also want to try the following. Grade A on Hope (wlaso owned by Cingari family) has a butcher. Further up the pecking order is Food Emporium in New Canaan. They have a dry-ager refrigerator on site. Then for meats up to Scotts Corner Market just over the border in Pound Ridge (route 124 through NC). Fantastic beef and veal and 5-6 choices of poultry brands.

        1. re: jfood

          Thanks for the recs! I actually like the meat at the new shop rite off of exit 6 off of 95. It's just sort of refreshing having some folks that actually know what meat is.

          I'll give the Grade A a try too. I assume the butcher is in there in the morning? Even the shop rite folks, since they are part of a small chain, can't procure meats not in their normal distribution (e.g., whole, untrimmed brisket, with point and flat). Would be good to have a full butcher around. I end up going to Rye for that if I need it.

          I'm not often in scott's corner, but if I am, I'll give it a try up there too. Would probably be closer than Rye.

          1. re: adamclyde

            Thanks jfood and adamclyde! Looking forward to checking all of this out--especially Zeytania. Amy

      2. re: jfood

        I read this post last week and just figured I'd add my 2 cents in regards to Zeytinia. It is a nice store and they do have some hard to find ingredients, and their prepared foods are pretty decent.
        However, IMHO, their produce is atrocious. I needed a couple of items after work tonight and lots of their stuff just looked sad. The fruit in particular. When I moved from Stamford last yr over to Rte 7, I thought this place was a great find. I've watched the produce go from bad to worse.
        Additionally, I needed some eggs tonight. While it's partially my fault for not checking the date until I put them away when I got home...the date on the eggs is May 9th. Today's May 7th.... 'nuff said.
        Again, I do think Zeytinia is good for *some* things...but if you want great produce & dairy, try Stew's or Whole Foods in Greenwich.

        You're moving to CT at nearly the right time...the farmers markets start opening up next month. Good luck.

        1. re: amanda3571


          Jfood agrees that the dairy at Stews is the best (the low fat chocolate milk is banned from the house) and the best value but would take the opposite position on many other items between Zeytinia versus Stew's.

          The veggies at Stews are very good (such high turnover it has to be) but the fruit is NEVER ripe when purchased. Jfood lives on oranges in the winter and those purchased at Z were far superior to any from Stews and there are now two cantaloupes and two honeydews ripening on the kitchen counter. Jfood always plans at least three days from purchase to cutting for melons from Stews

          Wrt the eggs the date on the carton was two days in the future, so 'nuff said is that they could sell them for anther two days. Heck, jfood has seen eggs in other grocers that were dated a week in the past. Now that's a 'nuf said.

          Jfood also likes the raviolis and tortellinis at Z's better as well. In the deli department Z's also has a whole roasted leg of pork and store baked roast beef that they will carve for fantastic sanwiches. Stew's has the basic Boar's Head, Land o Lakes and House brands. Good, not great quality.

          Jfood also agrees that the fish is better at Stews than Z's, but the meat is far superior at Z's over Stews.

          Stews is great for dairy, veggies and fish but the rest of the grocer basket, jfood has to give the nod to Z's.

          1. re: jfood

            I haven't tried the meat at Z's, however will certainly try with your recommendation.

            I'm not trying to step on toes here, I have simply been underwhelmed with their produce.

            In regards to the eggs however - personally (and I know it's not always the case) - I expect a solid month of shelf/fridge life before the expiration date. Not 2 days. But again, my fault for not checking.

            1. re: amanda3571

              that's cool, we all have those little rules of engagement when it comes to food. for me the crowds at stew's (especially the kids screaming at the talking animals) makes it a miserable experience at times.

              jfood's the guy checking all the little u-rings on the english muffins packages. Once jfood learned they were color-coded, it was much easier.

              1. re: jfood

                I agree with the crowds for time to go is Sunday am early, while everyone is at church :)

                1. re: amanda3571


                  Agree with your time frame and was there at 930 yesterday morning. when i hit the cashiers the lines were out of control. went over to custo service and she said, "oh yeah we had a bunch o people call in sick today." ouch.

                  if you can try stews mid-morning during the week, what a pleasure. walk through, no line at the fish department, none at deli and the cashiers are up and out.

                2. re: jfood

                  The crowd and screaming kid factors make the hubby and I big fans of hitting Stew's around 7am. We're in and out in no time; and if anyone is playing with the displays at that hour, it's usually the hubby.

                3. re: amanda3571

                  I will put a disclaimer on my opinion in regards to Z and acknowledge that I do not shop there as much as you.

                  either way - Bon Appetit, jfood :)

                  1. re: amanda3571

                    no disclaimer needed.

                    the goal for all of us is the best quality for the best price. Jfood is a sponge for data and appreciate all differing points of view. if you had some bad produce or close-dated eggs, jfood thanks you and now the dates will be checked more closely next time. :-))

                    That's why mrs jfood leave all the grocery shopping to jfood, the "jfood grocery service" is like a Just in Time.

          2. Shop Rite and Grade A are one and the same! Owned by the Cingeri family, Shop Rite just implies a co-op they are members of. Four stores in Stamford (Shippan Ave, West Main T., Newfield Ave and Hope Street), plus CT Avenue in Norwalk