Bill's Food Review Page

I love good food.  You can tell that from my size in the picture.  Since I don't look very happy in that shot, for the most part, it won't be because of any the places listed below.  This is more of a "You've got to go here" list.  Everyone just thought that was a great picture for a food review column

Bill Mazeika


For comments or questions, send email to bill@mazeika.com

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Food Review Archive
 
Mozzicato Italian Bakery - Plainville, CT
Top Fuji Japanese Steakhouse - Vernon, CT

Rarytas Polish Deli - New Britain, CT 
Fatherland Restaurant - New Britain, CT
Brasil Grill Market - Waterbury, CT
Red Riding Hood's Basket - Southwick, MA

Josie's Corner - Berlin, CT
Modern Pastry - Hartford, CT
Old South Bar-B-Que - Oak Grove, KY 
Chick's - West Haven, CT
Blackie' - Cheshire, CT
Glenwood - Hamden, CT
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Mozzicato Italian Bakery & Pastry Shop
125 New Britain Ave,  Plainville, CT  


If you live in central Connecticut, and love Italian pastries, and don't want to drive all the way to Hartford's Little Italy section on Franklin Avenue, then you are in luck!  Mozzicato just opened a new store in Plainville.  Hartford residents... not to worry... they are keeping that store open also.  Its been a week since the grand opening of the Plainville store at the end of August, 2010, and the crowds show no sign of slowing down.  

The store itself is beautiful with its marble decor and shiny display cases.  But the real beauty is the rainbow color of cookies, pastries, cakes and other delights that fill those cases.  Besides the sweets, the choices seem endless since you can also get fresh Italian bread... plain, or wonderful varieties stuffed with broccoli, sausage or other goodies.

You can also sit and relax with a serving of gelato... if you can decide which of the 9 or so flavors on display.  Plan on coming by often and trying all these delights.

   

Bill Mazeika

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Top Fuji Japanese Steakhouse
415 Hartford Turnpike, Vernon, CT  06066  860-872-3888


I know.  A lot of times when you get the itch for Asian food you head for your favorite buffet.  Nothing wrong with that.  I do it too.  But sometimes you want something a cut above... that is when you want to visit Top Fuji.  Its got a great atmosphere with a super friendly and helpful staff.  Its time to relax with friends and enjoy some great food that looks like great works of art.  Presentation is high on the list here.

The night we were there, one of the dishes we shared as an appetizer could have just as well been a main course.  It was a variety sushi sashimi platter.  (Pictured).  We were sitting just a few feet from where it was prepared, so we could watch as the masterpiece was assembled.  The fresh ingredients gently explode in your mouth with all the freshness of the ocean.  At the urging of our server, we gave into also ordering chicken mackie rolls (I'm sure I spelled it wrong).  They were delightful rolls filled with chicken and perhaps cheese, which were then deep fried.  They packed a subtle and delicious spicy punch.

Two of the entrees that were especially noteworthy were the chicken tempura and the beef asparagus  rolls.  Once again... artfully presented.  For the chicken, I didn't think it was possible for something fried to taste so light.  The strips of perfectly cooked chicken stood upright on a bed of delicately fried vegetables.   Even though I'm not a big fan of asparagus, rolling the tender shoots in thin strips of beef, and serving them with a delicious sauce made me a fan of that dish.

Once again, I cannot over emphasis the great wait staff.  I look forward to returning... when I have room for the tempura cheesecake desert.

Bill Mazeika

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Rarytas Polish Deli
38 Broad St, New Britain, CT  06053   860-827-8076

This is not a usual entry since you can't eat here, but this page is about good food, not just restaurants. 
Nestled in the city of New Britain is its Polish Neighborhood, mostly centered around Broad Street.  Rarytas is one of the great delis you will find there.  If you like a variety of smoked meats, you'll love this place.  When you walk inside, the aroma is intoxicating.  If you could gain weight by inhaling the smell of great food, then this would be a dangerous place to hang around.  We stopped by to pick up a nice Easter kielbasa.  For those of us Americanized on the chain supermarket stuff, we don't realize the bounty of these tasty sausages available in neighborhood delis like this. 

By the way... everything is written in Polish... without English subtitles.  That's OK.  The staff is more than willing to guide you in English through this meaty wonderland.  You just have to answer some questions like: a little garlic or lots of garlic, (there's really no such thing as too much garlic!), how much fat, how smokey, etc... And before you know it, they hand you the perfect kielbasa!  Besides the dozen or so kielbasa choices, the meat counter is filled with more cold cuts than I could even name.  Then there is the pickled herring, and the perogies, and the breads... Its amazing how much stuff they fit into this little place. 

The next day we grilled our kielbasa... and I thought it smelled wonderful in the deli!  The taste was phenomenal!  It would be a travesty to even add a dab of mustard!  It is now my mission to return and begin a journey through all the varieties of smoked sausages... then onto the smoked bacon!

Bill Mazeika

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Fatherland Restaurant
450 S Main St, New Britain, CT 06051  860-224-3345

Known for its Polish population, there is no shortage of Polish restaurants in New Britain.  This little gem is located in a storefront plaza several blocks from unofficial little Poland.  In the entrance are pictures of some famous people with Polish heritage ranging from scientists to the Pope.  Once inside the spotless place is decorated with sketches of Polish cities.  At lunch time the place was abuzz with people chatting in Polish as they greeted familiar faces from across the room... a real family atmosphere.  But not to worry... the menu is in English.  There are loads of economical lunch specials.  Some of the tasty treats we can vouch for include: Chicken Livers with onions, potato pancakes, pickled beets, red cabbage, and the fried fish.  Everything was prepared perfectly and tasted wonderful. 

One especially nice item was the hot white borscht soup.  It was nicely flavored with dill, and had pieces of kielbasa and half a hard boiled egg in it.  Can't wait to return to sample more of the menu including the dinner offerings.  The wait staff is friendly and very helpful.  Even at the economical prices, you won't leave hungry!  My grandmother would have felt right at home here.  One thing I didn't try was their golabki (stuffed cabbage rolls).  No one has ever even come close to the ones my mother would make.  That would be the ultimate test for any Polish eatery.

Bill Mazeika

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Brasil Grill Market
2060 South Main ST, Waterbury, CT 06706  203-757-2727


Are you looking for something different for lunch?  I love to try new things, and this place fills that need.  
Unless you're looking for it, this Brazilian buffet / market is easy to miss, just keep in mind it not far once you get off Route 8.  When you enter this establishment, you can go left into the market to buy all kinds of Brazilian groceries, or go to the right to enter the buffet section.  Here you will find a number of tables and chairs filling the area.  The walls are filled with cheerful outdoor murals done in bright colors.  In one corner there is a huge flat screen TV tuned to an ever present soccer game.  But the real center of attraction is the short but well stocked buffet line.  Its filled with a number of home cooked Brazilian tasty treats; rice dishes, meats in savory gravies, beautiful vegetables, and an item which if I was in the deep south would have to call cracklin.  I don't know what it is called in Portuguese, but if you like bacon, you'll love this.  They are like 1 inch cubes of super crisp bacon, that after an initial crunch, melt away into a porky goodness!  Even with all the choices, save some room on your plate or take out container.  Once you get to the end of the line, you are in front of an open charcoal rotisserie where you can choose from a variety of meats cooked to perfection over hot coals.  Your choices include bacon wrapped chicken, steak, and tasty sausages.  To quench your thirst you can go for some soda or water, or continue your South American excursion with some cashew juice served right out of the frosty juice bubbler.  This place is hopping around lunch time with many people eating inside, enjoying the friendly atmosphere, and also a number of people taking their orders to go.  You've got to give this place a try!  Delicioso!

Bill Mazeika

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Red Riding Hood's Basket
108 Congamond Rd (Rte 68), Southwick, MA 01077  413-569-2300  www.redsbasket.com

This cute little coffeehouse is located in that divet of Massachusetts that dips down into Connecticut.  I'll leave it to you to research how that boundary came to be.  However, if you do pass that way this is a quaint little place that just begs for you to relax with a good cup of coffee... that is if you can decide on what you want from their extensive listing of lattes and cappuccinos.  And what coffee is complete without a tasty slice of pie or one of the other goodies they offer.  After you take in the wolf along side of Red in the front window, you'll notice all the other charming decorations that make this an inviting place.  There is also a neat little nook toward the back with a couple of couches where you can do some reading.  Keep checking back on this establishment since they are always adding new fare, and have some special evening events as well.  Recently we spent an evening with friends listening to a keyboard rendering of 70's and 80's tunes where the performer encouraged the audience to sing along while they sipped their tea or munched on some very tempting looking mac and cheese.  Yeah.  Old folks can be cool too.

Bill Mazeika

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Josie's Corner
166 Mill St, Berlin, CT 06037  860-829-5757

There's something that is just plain fun about eating breakfast out, and Josie's is a great place to do that.  Its a neatly decorated breakfast nook that is filled with light from the large front windows.  The staff is friendly and attentive, and the portions are great.  You can't go wrong with anything you order, but there are a couple of things to keep in mind.  Always ask for the toast made from the home-made bread.  It is cut extra thick.  The cinnamon toast is like eating desert, but my favorite is the whole wheat (with extra butter... Its OK... how often do you eat out!).  Its nutty and hearty, and is great to dip in your eggs if you like them over easy.  I like my eggs on top of their corned beef hash.  And oh yeah, the other thing to remember is "yes", you want onions in your home fries.  You may never cook breakfast at home again.

Bill Mazeika

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Modern Pastry
422 Franklin Ave, Hartford, CT 06114  860-296-7628  www.modernpastryshop.com

You'll find Modern Pastry right in the middle of Hartford's Italian section.  Even if you are stuffed after trying all the other fine foods in this neighborhood, my advice is: Make Room!  This is an old school Italian pastry shop.  You'll find the spotless glass cases loaded with more tempting delights than you can name.  These colorful creations look good, smell good, and they taste good.  You're just going to have to make several trips to try them all.  Some of my favorites include: cherry cheesecake tarts, the individual pies filled with chocolate or ricotta, and something you may overlook... the pepper biscuits.  These little knots of dough are flavored with black pepper and are best if they are rock hard.  If you have time, you can relax at the counter and enjoy your treat with a nice cup of espresso.  You may never have the opportunity to have them build you one of their amazing wedding cakes, but everyone has a birthday... so treat yourself and friends to an Italian Rum cake... talk about a special birthday cake... this is it.  Moist and flavorful with layers of pudding between the cake.  Even though Modern is open all year round, you definitely want to stop by in the summer.  That is when you can get their home-made Italian ice in a number of fantastic flavors.  Nothing is as refreshing on a hot summer afternoon as a cup with a scoop of almond flavor topped with some chocolate ice.  Well maybe a contender would be some of their home-made gelato.  You could call this Italian ice cream, except its made with milk, and has less air, resulting in a denser and more flavorful treat.  The torrone flavor is fantastic!  You'll never settle for ice cream again.  Mangia!!!

Bill Mazeika

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Old South Bar-B-Que
11275 Fort Campbell Boulevard Oak Grove, KY 42262  270-439-0351


If you are traveling between Nashville, TN and Hopkinsville, KY this is the place to stop for some genuine  Bar-B-Que.   You know you're in for a treat when you see the smokers going on the side of the building.  And by Bar-B-Que, I mean some pulled pork.  You get a giant heap piled on a soft bun.  The meat is tender, sweet, smoky, and juicy.  If you want some heat, squirt on the sauce.    There's no question  about the sandwich you will get here, but you do have to decide on your two sides, and your desert.  They are all good; the greens, the cole slaw, the potato salad, the hash brown pie, the fruit cobblers... Oh My!  Everybody needs to get something different so you can share.  Its pretty rare to find something like this up north, so eat up while you can.  Just don't let them know you're a yankee.

Bill Mazeika

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Chick's
183 Beach St, West Haven, CT 06516  203-934-4510


This is one of the last remaining places from the old Savin Rock days.  If you don't know about Savin Rock Amusement Park, look it up.  Chick's is across the street from one of the West Haven public beaches, so in the summer time, this place is booming.  There's a lot of good food here, but you basically come for a these items and share them: Whole Belly Clams, Soft Shell Crab, Onion Rings, and Calamari.  There is something about eating seafood on the shore in the summer that adds to the whole experience.  Keep in mind, this is not a fancy place, but its history.  After you eat, go across the street, do some beach combing, walk along the boardwalk, go out on the pier and gross out your date by getting a fisherman to show her a sandworm. 

Bill Mazeika

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Blackie's
2200 Waterbury Rd (Rte 70), Cheshire, CT 06410  203-699-1819  www.blackieshotdogs.com


Most Connecticut residents would probably tell you the Number 1 hot dog place is Blackies. The hot dogs are nothing to brag about.  They are relatively small, and they are not even grilled over on open fire.  But the famous home made hot relish is tremendous.  You could put it on cardboard and it would be a feast.  The relish is green in color and is pepper based.  It has a heat that sneaks up on you, but it also tastes great.  I heard they used to make up a huge batch of it once a year.  There are countless stories about people smuggling out some relish to reverse engineer it.  The good news is they now have it for sale in commercially prepared jars that you can buy right there.  Take some home and put it on a real good grilled hot dog!

Bill Mazeika

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Glenwood
 2538 Whitney Av (Rte 10), Hamden, CT 06518  203-281-0604  www.glenwooddrivein.com

Now here is an example of a great hot dog and an great relish.  These hot dogs are about a foot long, and served on the classic flat sided split bun.  They are cooked to perfection over an open flame grill.  Even Though I like my steak to go "mooh..." when I cut into it, the best way to order a Glenwood hot dog is well done.  As a matter of fact, the official call out after I place my order is "Two dogs, burn em!"  The shouting is part of the tradition.  As the ordering line moves closer to the counter, you are asked what you want, then this guy (or gal) yells it out to the cooks who are only about 10 feet away.  What could make a great hot dog even better?  The relish.  Glenwood's special hot relish is speckled with green and red bits suggesting a combination of peppers.  It is spicy hot, sweet, and tasty.  Go ahead and add a layer of brown mustard and some ketchup.  This relish won't get lost in that mix.  Glenwood is an institution.  Most people from the area probably ate half of their meals there during their high school years.  This place has been around since 1955!  Its a topic for another article, but you can't go wrong with anything you order there.

Bill Mazeika

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For comments or questions, send email to bill@mazeika.com

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