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Classic Foods of Connecticut


Classic Foods in ConnecticutNew England has many regional foods that are rooted in history, like Native Americans' use of maple sap, and in traditional uses of the land, like cheese from Vermont dairy farms and lobster from Maine fisheries. Other New England traditions include cod, clam chowder, apples, and New England Boiled Dinners. In Connecticut, New Haven prides itself as the birthplace of the pizza in America. The Connecticut shore brims with seafood restaurants and western Connecticut has a tasty subculture of dairy farms.

SeafoodNew Haven-Style PizzaDairyApples
Historic Yankee FareOdds 'n' Ends


Seafood

Seafood in ConnecticutSeafood is a specialty and a point of pride in New England cuisine. Finfish like cod, scrod, haddock, halibut, and trout, and shellfish like lobster, scallops, clams, oysters, and mussels are served throughout New England, with some regional specialties: lobster is synonymous with Maine; Rhode Islanders love their quahogs (a type of clam); everyone devours fried clams. At a traditional New England clam bake, shellfish and vegetables are steamed in a pit in the beach lined with hot rocks and layered with damp seaweed.

Where to Find Seafood in Connecticut:

Mystic region

S&P Oyster Company - Mystic CT S&P Oyster Company
1 Holmes Street
Mystic, CT
860-536-2674
Price Range: $30 - $60 for meal, drink, tax, tip


If oysters are what you crave, look no further than the S&P Oyster house in Mystic, Connecticut. S&P sits on the banks of the picturesque Mystic River, with commanding views of the Mystic Drawbridge. Guests can enjoy the outdoor seating and the fresh Blue Point Oysters in the summer, or warm up in the winter with a bowl of New England Clam Chowder. Open daily at 11:30 a.m., year-round. Map

Abbot's Lobster in the Rough - Noank CT Abbott's Lobster in the Rough
117 Pearl Street
Noank, CT
860-536-7719
Price Range: $10-$30 for meal, drink, tax, tip


Word has it that Abbott's Lobster in the Rough can be slightly difficult to find, but, like a diamond in the rough, it's certainly worth the effort. This quintessential New England seafood shack comes complete with ocean views, picnic tables, and delicious summertime beach fare. Hours: open May through October; noon to 9 p.m. daily. Map

Fairfield/Southwest region

Sono Seaport Seafood Inc. - South Norwalk CT Sono Seaport Seafood Inc.
100 Water Street
South Norwalk, CT
203-854-9483
Price Range: $10-$30 for meal, drink, tax, tip


Tucked away on Water Street in South Norwalk (affectionately referred to by locals as "Sono"), seafood lovers will find Sono Seaport Seafood Inc., a fish market-turned restaurant that's been in business since 1983. The menu offers everything from stuffed clams and seafood bisque to fried soft shell crabs and fresh raw oysters. The restaurant offers casual waterside dining, complete with a pub and an outdoor bar for those who want to take in the sights and sounds of Norwalk Harbor. Hours: Open year round, seven days a week, 11 a.m. - 10 p.m. Map

Clambakes at Sheffield Island Lighthouse - Norwalk CT Clambakes at Sheffield Island Lighthouse
Sheffield Island
Norwalk, CT
Price Range: $30-$60 for meal, drink, tax, tip


Every summer, the Seaport Ferry in South Norwalk carries hundreds of hungry passengers to the historic 1868 Sheffield Island Lighthouse for the Norwalk Seaport Association's famous Thursday Clambakes. A true New England dining experience, the evening allows participants to dine in the festive tented pavilion on the lighthouse lawn, with tours of the lighthouse itself included in the cost. Roundtrip cruise and dinner is either $55 or $75 per person, depending on entree. Advance registration only. Hours: Thursday night cruises depart at 6 p.m. from the Sheffield Island Dock at the corner of Washington and Water Streets.

New Haven/South Central region

Dockside Seafood & Grill - Branford CT Dockside Seafood & Grill
Block Island Road
Branford, CT
203-488-3007
Price Range: $10 - $30 for meal, drink, tax, tip


For fresh seafood, outdoor dining, and an amazing shoreline view of the sunset, try Dockside Seafood & Grill in Branford. The restaurant overlooks the Branford Harbor, just 20 minutes outside of New Haven. Ocean breezes coupled with excellent specials like Lobster Pot Pie and house-made Maryland Crab-Cakes make this an ideal dining spot for a summer evening. Hours: Open daily at 11:30 a.m., summer only. Map

Bill's Seafood - Westbrook CT Bill's Seafood
548 Boston Post Road
Westbrook, CT
860-399-7224
Price Range: $10 - $30 for meal, drink, tax, tip


Bill's Seafood in Westbrook offers outdoor seating overlooking the Patchogue River in the summer, and a warm, inviting atmosphere in the colder months. The restaurant also offers live entertainment, an extensive wine list, and a menu chock-full of New England seafood staples like clam chowder, fish n' chips, and fresh sea scallops. Over the past decade, Connecticut Magazine has awarded Bill's with Best Seafood and Best Family Dining in Middlesex County, and Best Outdoor Dining in the State. Hours: Open year-round, at 11 a.m. daily. Map


New Haven-Style Pizza

This classic Neapolitan pizza put New Haven on the culinary map, creating a cultural mainstay that dates back to 1925. A plain New Haven-style pizza generally consists of crust, tomato sauce, oregano, garlic, and just a sprinkling of romano cheese--costumers who want mozzarella must order it as a topping. Originator Frank Pepe came to New Haven from Italy and began making his signature "tomato pies" in the early 1920's, when they were available in only two types: plain and anchovy. In the 1960's, Pepe had the idea of using Rhode Island little neck clams as a pizza topping, and the White Clam Pizza was born. New Haven-style pizza is also distinguished by its thin, crispy crust, a result of traditional brick-oven cooking methods.

Where To Find Pizza in Connecticut:

New Haven/South Central region

Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana - New Haven CT Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana
157 Wooster Street
New Haven, CT
203-865-5762
Price Range: $5 - $15 for meal, drink, tax, tip


If you want the real deal, you have to go straight to the source. Pepe's Wooster Street location has been in business since 1937, providing customers with a seriously authentic New Haven-style pizza experience right in the center of historic Wooster Square (often referred to as New Haven's "Little Italy"). Conveniently, Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana also has stores in several other Connecticut locations, including Fairfield, Manchester, Danbury, and inside the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville. New Haven location hours: Monday - Saturday, 11:30 a.m. - 10 p.m.; Sunday, noon - 10 p.m. Map

Modern Apizza - New Haven CT Modern Apizza
874 State Street
New Haven, CT
203-776-5306
Price Range: $10-$30 for meal, drink, tax, tip


Like Sally's, Modern Apizza was founded in the 1930's and has been there ever since. Great taste must be the key to its longevity; Modern Apizza won the New Haven Advocate's Reader's Choice Award for "Best Pizza" twelve years in a row. Hours: Tuesday - Thursday, 11 a.m. - 11 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. - midnight; Sunday, 3 - 10 p.m.; Monday, closed. Map

Sally's Apizza - New Haven CT Sally's Apizza
237 Wooster Street
New Haven, CT
203-624-5271
Price Range: $10-$30 for meal, drink, tax, tip


Also located in the Wooster Square neighborhood of downtown New Haven is Sally's Apizza (pronounced "ah-beets" in the Neapolitan dialect). Opened in 1938 by Frank Pepe's nephew,Sal, Sally's has been family owned and operated ever since. This small pizzeria makes such delicious pies that customers have been known to line the sidewalk for hours on busy nights. Hours: Tuesday - Saturday, 5 - 10:30 p.m.; Sunday, 5 - 10 p.m.; Monday, closed. Map

Mystic region

Mystic Pizza - Mystic CT Mystic Pizza
56 West Main Street
Mystic, CT
860-536-3700
Price Range: $10-$30 for meal, drink, tax, tip


The story of Mystic Pizza begins in 1973 – well before the 1988 movie that placed the restaurant on the map of American popular culture. In the beginning, the Zelepos family bought a pizza shop on Main Street in Mystic and began serving the hungry local people and tourists. Mystic Pizza became very popular, and remains so, because of its great taste. Then, Hollywood came to tonw in the late 1980s, and the hit movie drew even more crowds. Today, the movie plays continuously on a screen in the restaurant, but the food continues to be the best part of your visit. Located in the center of Mystic, with lots of bustle in the tourist season. Great for families.Open year-round. Map


Dairy

With over 152 active farms in the state, Connecticut's thriving dairy industry carries on a New England agricultural tradition, supplying dairy products that are both local and fresh. Many small farms and creameries across the state offer educational tours and workshops, and farm markets that allow consumers to purchase fresh milk, cheese, and other products directly from the people who made them.

Where to Find Dairy in Connecticut

Fairfield/Southwest region

Stew Leonard's - Norwalk CT Stew Leonard's
100 Westport Avenue
Norwalk, CT
203-847-7214


Stew Leonard's is a dairy store and more. Offerings include wine, cheese, meats, produce, fish and a packed calendar of cooking events. Other attractions at Stew Leonard's are its milk processing plant, costumed characters, scheduled entertainment, petting zoo, and other fun for children. A favorite entertainment for younger visitors is the Farm Fresh Five, a band of state-of-the-art animatronics that that entertain the kids while adults shop. The small, independently owned chain also has stores in Danbury and Newington. Map

Hartford/Central region

The Collins Creamery at Powder Hill Farm - Enfield CT The Collins Creamery at Powder Hill Farm
9 Powder Hill Road
Enfield, CT
860-749-8663


The Collins family opened their Creamery in 1997 in order to diversify their dairy farming operation and raise awareness of the importance of local agriculture at the sime time. What that means for ice cream lovers is over 20 homemade flavors to choose from, including Red Rasberry Chocolate Chip and White Chocolate. They also serve frozen yogurt, soft serve, fat free ice cream and pints that you can take home with you. Hours: Late spring through September; call for hours. Map

Tulmeadow Ice Cream and Farm Store - West Simsbury CT Tulmeadow Ice Cream and Farm Store
255 Farms Village Road
West Simsbury, CT
860-658-1430


Hartford Magazine voted Tulmeadow Farm "Best Ice Cream" in a recent readers poll, and the numbers don't lie. With a menu offering over 50 flavors of gourmet, homemade ice cream, the Creamery is just one of the reasons to visit Tulmeadow Farm. The other is the fabulous farm store, where you'll find fresh local produce, gifts, and more. Hours (for Creamery and Store: January 1 - March 31, Friday - Sunday only, 9 a.m. - 6 p.m.; open daily starting April 1. Map

Mystic/Eastern region

Cato Corner Farm - Colchester CT Cato Corner Farm
178 Cato Corner Road
Colchester, CT
860-537-3884


Cato Corner Farm is a small family farm in Colchester where a mother-son team raises 40 free-range Jersey cows without the use of hormones or subtherapeutic antibiotics. From the cows' raw milk, Elizabeth and Mark hand make a dozen styles of aged farmhouse cheeses ranging from mild and milky to runny and pungent to sharp and firm. The Cheese Room Store is open every 
Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. Map

Buttonwood Farms Creamery - Griswold CT Buttonwood Farms Creamery
471 Shetucket Turnpike
Griswold, CT
860-376-4081


Buttonwood Farms, a working dairy farm owned and operated by the Button Family, is home to a stellar ice cream stand offering natural, homemade ice cream and waffle cones, and a gorgeous atmosphere in which to enjoy them. Buttonwood is also home to a stunning 14-acre field of sunflowers; every year, the flowers are sold for five dollars a bunch and the proceeds are donated to local charity. Hours: March 1 - mid-autumn; Monday - Friday, 1 - 8 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, noon - 8 p.m. Map


Apples

Apples in Connecticut

Apple growing has found a fertile home in rocky soils, long, hot summers, and crisp fall days of New England. The New England apple industry is still largely family-owned and orchards are an important community resource. Many growers offer pick-your-own sales and farm stands that sell homemade apple butter, applesauce, pies, and more. Among the other treats is apple cider -- fermented ("hard") or non-fermented. Until the mid-1800s, hard cider was the most popular beverage in North America because apples were plentiful; it was cheap to make and, unlike milk, it would not go bad. All the colonists, young and old, drank hard cider at all types of occasions. See lists of pick-your-own farms in Connecticut and Farmers Markets in Connecticut.

Where To Find Apples in Connecticut

New Haven/South Central region

Bishop's Orchards - Guilford CT Bishop's Orchards
1355 Boston Post Road
Guilford, CT
203-453-2338


From its beginnings as a roadside stand in the 1910's, Bishop's Orchard has grown into a simple yet bustling farm market. While the market offers fresh fruits and vegetables all year round, Bishop's trademark "big red apple" is what really sets them apart. Visitors can pick their own apples from late August through mid-October, not to mention the fresh strawberries, peaches, pumpkins, and other seasonal delights that Bishop's has to offer. Open year-round; call for hours. Map

Mystic region

Holmberg Orchards - Gales Ferry CT Holmberg Orchards
12 Orchard Lane
Gales Ferry, CT
860-464-7305


Holmberg Orchards has been around since 1935, growing not only apples but peaches, pears, pumpkins, and more. It's just a short drive away from the New London-Groton area, and other major Connecticut attractions like Mystic Aquarium and Seaport, and Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun Casinos. The Orchard boasts a superb old-fashioned farm market where you can purchase some of their top-quality produce, but you might prefer to pick your own apples (and everything else) when seasons permit. Hours: Market is open 9 a.m. - 6 p.m. daily, year-round. Orchard is open daily, from early July through late October. Map

Buell's Orchard - Eastford CT Buell's Orchard
108 Crystal Pond Road
Eastford, CT
860-974-1150


In addition to the Ginger-gold, Macoun, Honeycrisp, and Paula Red Apples available for picking at Buell's Orchard, guests will find blueberries, strawberries, peaches, and pumpkins. The farm has been in operation since 1889, and is located in one of Connecticut's most scenic areas. Hours: Mid-July through Labor Day, Monday - Friday, 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.; Saturday, 8 a.m. - 3 p.m.; Labor Day through October, Monday - Saturday, 8 - 5 p.m.; Sunday, 1 - 5 p.m. Map

B.F. Clyde's Cider Mill - Mystic CT

B.F. Clyde's Cider Mill
1129 North Stonington Road
Mystic, CT
860-536-3354


A visit to B. F. Clyde's Cider Mill in Mystic is like stepping back in time. The mill, built in 1881, is now being operated by the sixth generation of the Clyde family and is proud to call itself the only steam-powered cider mill in the United States. The pick-your-own apples season starts in September and, of course, the mill has a lot more to offer, like hard ciders and apple wines, jams, jellies, local honey, maple syrup, fudge, pies, kettle corn, and apple cider donuts. Cider-making demonstrations are held weekends, 11 a.m., 1 and 3 p.m. Open daily, September through late December. Map

Fairfield/Southwest region

Silverman's Farm - Easton CT Silverman's Farm
451 Sport Hill Road
Easton, CT
203-261-3306


From late July through late October, Silverman's Farm in Easton abounds with apples of many varieties. From Honeycrisp and Jonagold to good old standards like Macintosh and Granny Smith, Silverman's invites you to have your pick. The farm is open year-round and also offers a greenhouse and flower shop, a pumpkin patch, farmers market, petting zoo, and more. Open year-round; call for hours. Map

Litchfield region

Averill Farm - Washington Depot CT Averill Farm
250 Calhoun Street
Washington Depot, CT
860-868-2777


This historic farm has been owned and run by the Averill Family ever since it was purchased from the holdings of Chief Waramaug way back in 1746. Originally a dairy farm, today Averill Farm is a thriving fruit orchard, specializing in apples and pears. The orchard is only open during picking season, but you'll agree it's worth the trip after sampling on of the orchard's dozens of varieties. The farm also sells its own jams and jellies, cider, apple cider doughnuts, along with pies, pumpkins, gourds, Indian corn, mums, maple syrup, honey, cheddar cheese, and gifts. Hours: Mid-August through Thanksgiving, 9:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m., daily. Map


Historic Yankee Fare

Historic Yankee Fare

New England's Puritan settlers from England brought their own cooking traditions, like baked beans, baked turkey, and apple pie. The newcomers also acquired food traditions from the Native Americans, who used corn meal in a form of johnnycakes and many kinds of fish in chowders and clam bakes. Native people also gathered and used maple sap, a prelude to modern maple syrup. Molasses and rum were common in New England cuisine. Hard apple cider was a beverage for people of all ages. Cranberries and potatoes were used extensively.

Where to Find Historic Yankee Fare in Connecticut

Litchfield region

G. W. Tavern - Washington Depot CT G. W. Tavern
20 Bee Brook Road
Washington Depot, CT
860-868-6633
Price Range: $30-$60 for meal, drink, tax, tip


Once an 1850 Colonial home located off the beaten track, the G.W. Tavern now offers dining on a flagstone patio overlooking the Shepaug River. (For cooler nights, the Tavern has a floor-to-ceiling fieldstone fireplace, surrounded by hand painted murals of the old town and farms.) The menu contains a blend of the traditional and the contemporary, purchased from local purveyors whenever possible. Recent menu items have included everything from Kobe beef to locally raised venison, quail, and duck. Shad roe and soft-shell crabs are available seasonally as well as swordfish from the Grand Banks. Map

Redding Road House - West Redding CT Redding Road House
406 Redding Road
West Redding, CT
203-938-3388
Price Range: $30-$60 for meal, drink, tax, and tip


In the tradition of the best New England restaurants, Redding Road House dazzles with fine American food served in a cozy, Colonial environment with fireplaces in nearly every room. Families will love the historic feel, and children will be delighted by the Lionel trains and antique rifles dating back to the Civil War that decorate the interior. The building first served as a small bed and breakfast for weary travelers. Home-cooked meals were served in the small tavern. Mark Twain reportedly sat in the tavern on occasions, scribbled notes for his fiction on wintry nights. Today, menus are lavish, with delicacies ranging from chorizo with sweet and sour figs to Prince Edward Island mussels. Open year-round. Map

Mystic region

Elias Child House
50 Perrin Road
Woodstock, CT
860-974-9836


Built in the early 18th Century, the Elias Child House has been serving up "traditional Yankee fare" for centuries. This historic Bed and Breakfast uses the home's original hearth to create authentic colonial-style meals while a hostess dressed in period garb shares recipes, cooking secrets and narratives from the 18th century. Guests are encouraged to participate in the meal preparation before sitting down to enjoy foods like corn pudding, coriander ginger cake, and meats roasted in the beehive oven. Hours: Open year-round; feasts must be booked in advance. Map


Odds 'n' Ends

New Haven/South Central region

Louis Lunch - New Haven CT Louis' Lunch
261-263 Crown Street
New Haven, CT
203-562-5507
Price Range: $5 - $15 for meal, drink, tax, tip


The story goes something like this: one day in 1900, a man walked into Louis' Lunch in New Haven, Connecticut. In a rush, he asked for something he could eat on the run. Without wasting any time, proprietor Louis Lassen placed his own special blend of ground steak trimmings in between two pieces of bread and voilà! the original hamburger was born. Over a century later, Louis' great grandson Jeff Lassen carries on the tradition at this historic lunch counter, located in its original building at 261-263 Crown Street. The charmingly simplistic menu contains only four items: burgers, potato salad, potato chips, and pie. But don't worry, what Louis' lacks in variety, it makes up for in taste. Hours: Tuesday and Wednesday, 11 a.m. - 3:45 p.m.; Thursday - Saturday, noon - 2 a.m.; Sunday - Monday, closed. Map

Essex Clipper Dinner Train - Centerbrook CT Essex Clipper Dinner Train
One Railroad Avenue
Centerbrook, CT
860-767-0103


How about a four-course meal aboard the elegant Essex Steam Train as it whisks you away on a scenic journey through Connecticut? This 2½-hour ride lets you enjoy the view from the windows of restored 1920's Pullman dining cars while you enjoy gourmet food and learn about the history of "dinner in the diner," as it was once called. The Dinner Train runs on weekends from June through October and requires advance registrations. The $70 per person fare includes the train ride, a four-course meal, with service and tax included. Map