Spiga: traditional family style Italian dishes with an infusion of modern flavors

We recently visited Spiga located in downtown New Canaan Ct.  We were excited to be dining at this eatery specializing in traditional Italian cuisine fused with a modern flair.   The dishes are served “family style” which means large plates filled with your favorite dishes that are meant to be shared.

The menu may be filled with Italian classic cuisine, yet the interior is quite modern.  The deep rectangular space is  divided into long wooden tables, orange colored booths, and unique tables with attached swing out stools.  The is also a long attractive bar where craft cocktails are available as well as an extensive wine list.   At the rear of  the restaurant is the open kitchen as well as a deli counter which makes one feel if they have stepped back in time into an Italian deli with cheeses hanging from the ceiling, and fresh made pastas available for sale.

The menu at Spiga follows the theme of traditional Italian cuisine infused with modern culinary touches.  We were able sample along with our fellow guests a wide assortment of the chef’s handiwork.   Fans of traditional Italian fare will be pleased with the selections of mozzerella,  salumi ( a selection of Italian meats) , and an extensive list of pasta dishes. There is also a raw bar and we sampled the  Double Tier, a beautifully presented selection of 6 oysters, 12 little necks, and 4 jumbo shrimp.

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Double Tier

As an appetizer we sampled the tastefully executed and modern Avocado Crab Salad with fresh lump crab meat, avocado, , cherry tomatoes, grilled onions, corn, scallions, and complimented by a mango dressing.  The menu abounds with both modern and traditional salads.

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Avocado Crab Salad

A must have at any Italian eatery is pasta and Spiga makes their own fresh pasta on site. The Gnocchi Bolognase was perfection, as was the Cioppino Fra Diavolo. For something more current, the  Butternut Squash Gnocchi was filling as it was delicious. Just another way Spiga is blending traditional dishes with the modern culinary trends.

 

The Lobster Angolotti  was a fantastic pasta dish which is similar to lobster ravioli and served in black squid ink. A delicious dish.

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Pasta Dishes including Lobster Angolotti and Gnocchi Bolognese

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Montauk Tuna

Main course selections are plentiful at Spiga as are oven fired pizzas.   Poultry, pork, beef and seafood dishes are plentiful. For our main course we really savored the Montauk Tuna, seared fresh Ahi tuna encrusted w/ sesame seeds on a bed of avocado puree served w/ cannellini beans, heirloom tomatoes, charred sweet onions, corn, citrus dressing. A fresh delicious dish we did not expect from Spiga but is proof of the kitchen philosophy of serving  innovative cuisine alongside classic dishes we all love.

 

If you are planning to dine at Spiga, bring your appetite and bring the family (friends too).   Mangia!

Spiga

134 Main Street New Canaan Ct

website >>> http://www.eatatspiga.com

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La Camelia: savor the authentic flavors of Spain and Portugal in a charming atmosphere in Mt. Kisco

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While there are many fine restaurants in our area, it is unique to discover an eatery that is provides a great menu, friendly service and a dining atmosphere that is warm and inviting.  La Camelia in Mt Kisco is such a place.  Perched on a hill in a 19th Century home, the restaurant is instantly welcoming.  I felt as if  I had walked into the home of a favorite relative, or a quaint New England or European inn that was overflowing with charm and warmth.  The feeling was instant comfort.

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While the restaurant has been operating since 1984, current owners Victor and Serafina Varela have infused new life, an updated menu and genuine warmth and hospitality into La Camelia.  The interior has wide wood floors, fire places and  wooden tables draped in linen.  Prints and tapestries adorn the walls.  There are three separate dining spaces and a bar, all with a unique charm of their own.

The menu is comprised of  authentic Spanish and Portuguese dishes, tapas (small plates), sangria and wines.  The fresh flavors of the Iberian Peninsula  are all here to explore and enjoy.

We started with a pitcher of white wine sangria which was served in a traditional hand painted ceramic pitcher instead of glass or plastic.  This authentic beverage was a great way to start our culinary tour.

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Sangria served from a beautiful hand painted ceramic pitcher

The Sopa de Lagosta (Lobster Soup) was warm and delicious on a cold night.  Served in a unique fish shaped bowl , this lobster bisque also included crab meat and a piece of toast floating on top.  It was hearty and delicious.

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Sopa de Lagosta (Lobster Soup)

Since Spain and Portugal border the sea, the menu is full of seafood options.  We enjoyed the Tostada de Gambas,  a warm tapas with grilled shrimp, fresh guacamole and served over in house made crunchy chips.

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Tostadas de Gambas

Another great tapas was the  Mexilhoes na Cataplana, or steamed mussels in a red sauce.  A very unique presentation of this classic dish as it was served in a covered metal bowl with a hammered finish.  Lifting the cover allowed the fragrant flavors of fresh steamed mussels in a slightly smoky red sauce to fill the air.  This unique presentation and fantastic preparation is what makes La Camelia so special.

For our main dishes we sampled (at the suggestion of the staff), the Bife na Pedra which is  black angus steak that is lightly grilled on each side then served on a cooking stone. You slice the steak and allow the hot stone to cook it to your liking.  A really fun, interactive and authentic dish which we highly recommend.

A visit to a Spanish restaurant is not complete without  enjoying Seafood Paella.  I am big fan of this dish and La Camelia delivers with  all seafood including mussels, clams, shrimp, and topped with a 1/2 pound lobster.  The presentation of the dish was wonderful, and the taste was perfection.

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Seafood Paella

With just a bit of room left for dessert we were surprised to see a dessert cart rolled into the dining room.  Again a charming detail we have not seen in some time in dining and another example of the hospitality at La Camelia. There were several great looking desserts with the Carrot cake and the Chocolate Mousse being our favorites.

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La Camelia is a very special dining experience.  The warmth and genuineness of the hosts, friendly staff, amazing dishes from the sunny Iberian peninsula and a cozy welcoming atmosphere make this a must dine destination.

We cannot wait for warmer weather when the side patio opens up for outside dining.   A perfect restaurant for date night, or a gathering of friends.

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La Camelia

234 North Bedford Rd 
Mount Kisco NY 10549     

web   https://lacameliarestaurant.net

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Kashi: New seasonal menu compliments the sushi at this hip, modern Japanese restaurant in Stamford.

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We recently dined at Kashi a Japanese eatery and bar located in Downtown Stamford along Restaurant Row. Upon entering  Kashi Sushi Bar and Japanese Restaurant my impression was of a special and swanky environment.  Modern decor, soft muted purple lighting and a club like atmosphere blend to create  multi-sensory experience. Introduced to the city’s thriving restaurant scene in January of 2016, Kashi’s has crafted a space and menu that is both innovative and artistic in its approach to sushi and Japanese food.

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The Scorpion Bowl cocktail

The bar is creates a hip and modern environment in which to enjoy pre or post dinner cocktails. The list of special cocktails is quite impressive and innovative.  Old favorites can be found there such as the fun Scorpion Bowl which is always a fun cocktail to enjoy with others.

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Grilled Lobster

While the menu is filled with sushi and sashimi favorites, the new Seasonal Special Menu was the reason for our recent visit.  Interesting dishes abound including Grilled Lobster which is prepared with grilled seaweed and a chili sauce.   Seared Yellowtail Tuna  combines a pleasant presentation in a dark covered bowl  and includes seared yellowtail with yuzu, kosho gel and a yuzu dashi sauce.  Delicious.

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Yellowtail Tuna

The Double Wrap was another new and interesting dish with soy paper wraps filled with spicy lobster salad and topped with a mango salmon chili.  This was paired on the same plate with a fantastic cucumber wrap with spicy tuna inside.  The seasonal menu is sure to be a hit and help insert new flavors into the offerings at Kashi.

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Double Wrap

We also decided to sample some of the classic dishes and enjoyed the Thai Basil Chicken, which is prepared in a wok with mushroom, onion, carrot and a chili paste basil sauce.  Though not Japanese, this was a delicious dish.

For sushi fans, the Sushi and Sashimi for 1, is a great dish (and large enough to share).  A wonderful presentation over crushed ice with a light underneath the ice which includes sushi, sashimi and a spicy tuna roll.

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Sushi and Sashimi for 1

Kashi presents food that is only fresh and tasty, but does so in a visually interesting manner.  Add the upscale modern atmosphere that seemingly transports you from your average restaurant to a new exotic dining locale, and you have a winning combination.

Kashi

133 Summer Street, Stamford, CT

www.kashijapanese.com/kashistamford

 

 

KEE OYSTER HOUSE: Old New York Dining Experience comes to White Plains

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There is a new restaurant in White Plains that brings to the local dining scene a touch of old New York City with an elegant and urban vibe.  Three Westchester natives opened KEE Oyster House to bring New York’s famed oyster history back to life by serving a dazzling array of seafood items as well other menu options from the land.  The food is all super fresh (no frozen food) and prepared simple and pure to allow the taste and the freshness of the  food to really stand out.  Everything we sampled was top quality with ample portions.

Upon entering you know you are in a special restaurant.  The interior design uses painted dark wood, high ceilings and large tall windows, black and white tile floor in the bar area and Edison bulb lighting.  The effect is to replicate the feel of a New York City restaurant in the early 20th Century.  A beautiful long marble bar serves top notch specialty cocktails as well as a large wine menu and 20 types of single malt scotches and craft beer flows from seven taps.  Guests can eat at the bar and I witnessed some enjoying large plates of fresh oysters with their drinks.

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I sampled the Pomegranate Martini as well at the Oyster House Amigo.  I highly recommend these cocktails. Also at the bar diners can enjoy a bag of freshly made potato chips.

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If you enjoy the seafood, this the place for you.  A delightful menu with an emphasis on favorites as well as some unique and fresh options.  There are hot or cold Seafood Towers which are loaded with clams, oysters, crab meat shrimp and lobster. Any of the items in the Seafood Tower can also be ordered separately.  There is nice range of starters with salad, Roasted beets, Chowder and even ribs are available.

Starters: I tried the grilled oysters which were delicious and had a pure and lovely essence of the sea.  I was transported briefly to a seaside cafe.  Also fantastic was the Oysters Rockefeller with a light crust and creamy spinach filling.  A comforting and satisfying way to start the meal.

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Grilled Oysters

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Oysters Rockefeller

The Shrimp with grits was another tasty choice and the grits provided a nice contrast to the fresh shrimp.  The Fried Calamari was a little spicy with its chili aioli and crusty coating, and again was very tasty.

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Shrimp with Grits

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Calamari

Main Course:  There are 6 seafood selections  and 5 meat selections on the entree menu.  My entree was a 2 1/2 pound steamed lobster (sizes are 2 to 3 1/2 pounds) which is split and deshelled for you table side.  You can really taste the freshness of this classic dish.  My dish was so large, it really can be shared.

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Lobster

Another mouthwatering and healthy entree is the Roasted Halibut with a grape tomato stew. The halibut was perfectly prepared, light and delicious.  No frozen seafood is used and fresh seafood is sourced daily and it makes a  big difference in taste.  All dishes are a la carte with side dishes available at additional cost. I sampled the scrumptious Grilled Asparagus and the Roasted Cauliflower with brie cheese.  A nice complement to the entree.

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Halibut in a grape tomato stew

Dessert:  Don’t leave without trying the homemade and classic desserts.  We sampled the Apple Cobbler and the Key Lime pie and both were a nice sweet way to round out our meal.

KEE Oyster House is a special restaurant with the feel, atmosphere and high quality of a top restaurant in Manhattan.   Not feeling the trip into Manhattan to dine?  Then KEE delivers the NYC dining experience right in the heart of White Plains. A warm and lovely atmosphere with top notch service and great food is why this new gem should be on your list of spots to dine.

Both Lunch and Dinner served.  Reservations are suggested.  Private dining room available.

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KEE OYSTER HOUSE

126-128 East Post Road White Plains New York   tel: 914 437 8535

http://www.keeoysterhouse.com/

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