HOME > Chowhound > Southern New England >


CT restaurant recommendation/NW, Central or SW CT

I'm looking for some help picking out a restaurant for a retirement dinner for my MIL. It will be for 6 people and I can't find a place that seems "just right."
Food-wise I like The Cottage in Plainville but their chardonnay selection is boo-hoo (only 2 choices and neither sounds too great although I was assured by the man who answered the phone their that one is "award-winning") and my MIL is an avid chard drinker - in fact that is all she drinks and the meal will be 1/2 a disappointment if her wine is subpar.

That being said, I'd like somewhere kind of quiet -- we're not looking to shout at one another or listen to the bar crowd; a place with impeccable service, a good wine list, great food, some ambience and definitely not pretentious. I know I'm asking a lot but lately I've just had a hard time meeting this criteria in CT!

Other options I've entertained: Good News Cafe (great food but the time we finally got to treat the in-laws there, we had a terrible - possibly new?- server); Barcelona (too loud and trendy and the private loft area needs more than 6 ppl); Diorio (probably my 1st choice at the moment although it's already been used for a special occasion by us).

I appreciate any suggestions. I know I need a restaurant for this event, but honestly I'd be happy to check out any good restaurants in CT for future dinners as well!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. A relatively new place that we like a lot seems to fit your criteria: The Mockingbird located in the Toll House Inn in Litchfield (on 202 between Torrington and Litchfield). Food is terrific, service is excellent and the noise level is fine. Wine list is OK; good quality at its price points but quite limited and an unusual gap between the lower price wines and the higher price wines. Menu, which is online, is quite inventive.

    1. I'm not one to judge a restaurant by their wine listing, but I've heard that Cava's (Southington) has an impressive cellar. Can't give you a first hand account of the food/service quality.

      As to places *I* like, Pagliacci's in Plainville, Galleria in Farmington are two I CAN recommend.

      1. I vote for Firebox in Hartford. Nice quiet room, great food and you can view the chard list http://www.fireboxrestaurant.com/?q=l...

        1. what night is dinner? ON20 in Hartford only serves dinner on Friday nights but they appear to have a mega selection of chards. i haven't been since the new chef took over, but it's a lovely and unique setting.

          1. Thanks for the great responses! Dinner is on Sat. night, so ON20 wouldn't work... their menu looks interesting, although I wonder if it isn't a little too trendy of an atmosphere. I see they have a pastry chef! I checked out Firebox and will definitely be trying that place sometime soon - the brunch menu looks very interesting. I've been meaning to try Cava. Pagliacci's.... haven't been there since I was just old enough to order wine! I should try it again sometime. The reviews for Mockingbird are a little scattered - I'd be nervous trying it for the first time but maybe for a dinner date night.

            1 Reply
            1. re: MsAledella

              One thing I've found about Pagliacci's...their pasta dinners are big and VERY good. Their pizza's are practically tasteless. Go figure. Have a great time wherever you go!

            2. Why not work out a corkage deal with the Cottage, and bring your own preferred bottles? If they aren't willing to accommodate your request, they should be booted off the island.

              1 Reply
              1. re: mrsdebdav

                That is exactly what I was thinking... I tried calling the Cottage yesterday and the man I spoke with was so RUDE I could not believe it. Pretty sure it was the owner. Too bad, now I will never bring a larger party there and might likely never eat there again myself. As I can see, there are lots of options in CT.

              2. I am probably a bit too late to be helpful, but Esca in Middletown is excellent and has a ridiculously extensive wine list.

                1 Reply
                1. re: jse91

                  Thanks for the recommendation. I ended up reserving at Diorio, b/c my in-laws already like the place and although I thought I'd be OK w/ going to an unknown place, when it came down to it I was too nervous. That being said I am definitely going to check out Esca with my husband sometime - the menu looks amazing!! I didn't check out the wines but they had me at the corks on the left of the screen. Nice.