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Best Sunday dinner off the Merritt Parkway?

Hello,

Driving back from NYC on Sunday night, I'd like to stop for dinner somewhere "not too far" off the Merritt Parkway.

Criteria:

1) Must be no more than 10-15 minutes off of the Merritt/Wilbur Cross Parkway. Please don't try to stretch this to somewhere 20 miles off the parkway that you love. I honestly need it to be "right off" parkway.

2) Must be North of Stamford and South of Wallingford. In other words, somewhere vaguely between "a good distance out of NYC" and "nowhere near Hartford".

3) Must have a wine list. Doesn't have to be awesome. But absolutely must serve wine. No exceptions.

4) Any price, from a great cheap pizza place to a high end fine dining place. If it's a mom and pop brick oven pizza place, great. If it's a 3 star Michelin restaurant, great. I don't care either way, as long as it's good.

5) Must be open Sunday night. (This rules out a lot of places.)

Thanks!

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  1. Sorry to have seen this so late - I would have recommended Biagio's in Stratford - you can see the parkway from its parking lot. Good Italian, with a wine list.

    Maybe next time!

    1. Lots of options in New Canaan, but I'll let others more knowledgeable chime in there.

      I'll suggest Barcelona Fairfield, literally right next to Exit 44 off the Merritt. Tapas and other more substantial Spanish entrees. Pretty extensive wine list that leans heavily towards Iberian and South American.

      1 Reply
      1. re: plien69

        +1 Always stop on the way home. Can sit outside.

      2. Oh! I meant this for 2 weeks from now, not tonight. :-)

        I checked out Biagio's, but I saw it got mixed reviews, so I was hesitant.

        Also checked out Barcelona, but is it just tapas? And the decor looked...um...weird. An old motel?

        I also checked out: Match in Norwalk, Bin 100 in Milford, Eli's Brick Oven (not sure if they have wine), and Elm in New Canaan.

        9 Replies
        1. re: johnblacksox

          Barcelona does occupy the restauarnt space in an old motor inn, but the food is very good.
          Bin 100 would be my first choice on the list

          1. re: bagelman01

            I would call Bin 100 convenient to I-95, but across town from the Parkway; I guess it falls under the 15-minute time limit, but to me it feels like a long haul. JMO.

            1. re: harrie

              If one takes the Milford Parkway exit (just before the Sikorsky Bridge) and gets on 95 South to exit 34 and makes a left for two blocks, it's about 8 minutes each way.

          2. re: johnblacksox

            Yes, it's in the lower level of the Motel Hi-Ho, but it's a separate space; you don't need to go through the motel lobby to get to the restaurant. Honestly, the outside doesn't look like much (mid-century turnpike motel, gravel parking lot), but the restaurant space itself is nice. I would characterize it as retro chic, not motel shabby (IMO of course).

            They do specialize in tapas, but also have a number of fuller entrees (think paella, mixed grill, etc.)

            Also, according to their Facebook page, Sunday night is pig roast night: $29pp, and wine bottles are 50%.

            1. re: johnblacksox

              Sunday nights at Elm can be a relative bargain. They have "Sunday Suppers", 3 courses prix fixe for $35. It's an inexpensive way to try some well-prepared and innovative cuisine. The drawback is that it's chef's choice, which doesn't offer variety. Since they don't always update their website, I would definitely call ahead for that night's menu before committing.

              If you're willing to try Match in South Norwalk (SoNo), a quick trip down Super 7, past I-95, you can try the original Barcelona, which is in a conventional restaurant setting a couple of blocks away.

              Another choice, 1 exit down Rte 7 from the Merritt, is Valencia Luncheria in Norwalk. It has long been one of my favorite casual restaurants (I'm far from alone in that opinion), and my friends from NYC now stop there on trips to and from New England. Their new location has plenty of seating and a great bar, but their spartan wine list may be a deal-breaker for you.

              Match is my least favorite of the bunch here - I find it overpriced - but I can't comment about Bin 100 or Eli's.

              1. re: SteveSCT

                I was looking at Elm, it looks pretty good...

                I have to say that Valencia Luncheria looks really good, food looks awesome, and nice wine too.

                A couple concerns...They only have 8 tables? Would I be able to get in on a Sunday night? Also, do they have table service? I can't tell from the website.

                1. re: johnblacksox

                  Older CH posts can describe their old location, which had 8 tables, was self-serve at lunch, BYO, and could have hour+ waits. They have since moved 1/2 block south, where I estimate they now seat over 100, with full bar and wait service. It can still get crowded, but wait times are usually in the 10-15 minute range on busy nights. Sundays are generally not problematic.

                  1. re: SteveSCT

                    Nice! That sounds great. What's the decor like inside? I can't tell from the website.

                    (Pet peeve of mine that restaurant websites rarely post pictures of their dining room, instead favoring 100 high def close ups of pieces of lettuce. Because evidently, I don't know what lettuce looks like. But I digress...)

                    Also, asked down below about Strada 18 in South Norwalk...Any thoughts on that?

                    1. re: johnblacksox

                      It's casual decor and service. Specials and some menu items are artfully drawn on large blackboards. Their theme is Venezuelan beach food, so it vaguely attempts to look like a tropical seaside restaurant. Fortunately they don't get too into the theme, so it's more simple and pleasant rather than kitschy - though they have some outdoor tables on trucked in sand.

                      I'll refrain from commenting on Strada 18, which is down the street from Match in Sono, because I haven't been there in a while. The owners know how to run a restaurant well, because we have been patronizing their new French-themed spinoff in New Canaan called Boulevard 18 instead. We enjoy their take on bistro food (love the lamb burgers), and they have large, well-curated wine and cocktail lists.

                      As for Pepe's, I second bagelman's comments (tho I view Pepe's more favorably than he, because I don't have the secret Sally's phone #).

            2. Another vote for Biagio's in Stratford. Very easy on and off the Parkway, delicious food and attentive service.

              1. Barcelona is in the HiHo hotel right off exit 46 in Fairfield.
                Tapas, and Sunday night is 1/2 price wine. They do have an excellent wine list.