Day food writers recap last month's dining reviews

Popeyes Classic Chicken Sandwich

Popeyes restaurants

You'd better memorize my words about this much-hyped new offering from the renowned New Orleans fried chicken chain because they're in such demand that every franchise in the solar system is sold out of them.

The most important thing to note from this is how pervasive and influential social media is — if you somehow unplugged your brain and weren't already aware of this fact. Somehow, through cunning and clever tweets and posts and exponential computer madness, the Popeyes Classic Chicken Sandwich ($3.99, $7.99 combo) became the Pet Rock of fast food.

Well, I ate two of them. My verdict? Hey, they're pretty good. I like Popeyes, anyway, particularly the spicy version. Their batter is peppery and the crust is thick and crunchy, and it coats a huge breast of boneless chicken. They plop in on (reportedly a toasted but not in my case) brioche bun with a few discs of tart dill pickle and your choice of plain or tangy mayo and ... voila!

Tell you what, though. If you can't find a location that actually has the sandwich, just go to Wendy's or Chick-fil A. The difference just isn't worth worrying about.

— Rick Koster

La Scarpetta Pizzeria Italiana

163 Boston Post Road, Old Lyme

(860) 390-6278

Pizza fans, take heart: the former Illiano's turned Stella's is now turned La Scarpetta after a brief pause in pizza operations at what has been a pizzeria location for some time.

The pizza menu offers a great array of specialty pies (the Arugula & Prosciutto pizza is $18 for a medium; $20 for a large), but the baseline Margherita we sampled ($17 for a medium; $19 for a large) hit all the right notes: bright, flavorful sauce; good quality cheese; and a crispy-soft crust.

La Scarpetta's expansive menu also includes grinders, entrees, pasta dishes, salads and soups, and we hereby recommend the house tortellini soup ($4 for a cup) and the Chicken Parm grinder ($8) for its great value — it's huge and fed two of us.

Keep an eye on the specials board, which might include clever cocktails like the yummy Berry Spritz — in which Prosecco meets berry puree — I enjoyed on a recent visit ($7). Bonus: The service we encountered was friendly on two occasions.

— Marisa Nadolny

Maria's Seaside Café

132 Atlantic Ave., Westerly

(401) 596-6886

When we ordered the roasted salmon in July at Maria's Seaside Café, it came nestled on a dollop of perfectly prepared citrus risotto with carrots, asparagus and a lemon beurre blanc. The carrots were wafer thin and julienned, and the al dente asparagus cut into bite-sized pieces on a diagonal, and the combination of the sauce, fish and vegetables — all those flavors and textures — well, the dish was just perfect.

Two months later and we are still talking about that salmon. That's a good restaurant. Maria's, a seasonal eatery that is only open until mid-October, is worth the drive to Misquamicut. The menu is diverse and the food tasteful and substantial.

There are pastas and salads and always a selection of fish dishes. We've tried the scallops, the swordfish, sea bass, and salmon, and have never been disappointed. And there's a burger and chicken dish on the regular menu, and always daily specials, like a pork chop with pan-fried potatoes or a filet mignon with mushrooms, broccolini, risotto with gorgonzola and a chianti demi glaze.

Check the website for fall hours and if you're going for dinner, make sure to call ahead for a reservation. This is a family-run establishment, and they do their very best to take care of their customers. And plan to arrive early or stay a while afterwards to cross Atlantic Avenue and visit the sandy beach and Atlantic Ocean. There's valet parking.

— Ann Baldelli


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