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    Tuesday, November 29, 2022

    Dining review round-up


    33 Kings Highway, Groton

    (860) 445-6546

    Find their website at olioct.com and search their name to find them on social media.

    Soon after my recent review of Olio was published, I received an email from Tom Cantone, the president of sports and entertainment at Mohegan Sun.

    “Loved your review – but you need to go back and try the Bolognese (my fav, nothing comes close) and the coconut shrimp,” he wrote.

    That’s a great tip, from a guy who has certainly eaten in plenty of top-tier restaurants, including many at the casino resort where he works. Next visit to Olio, I’m getting the Bolognese and the coconut shrimp.

    This Groton mainstay always serves up creative, delicious food and is part of the stable of restaurants owned by the Kanabis family that includes Bravo Bravo and Red 36 in Mystic. Whichever one you visit, it will be delicious.

    Highlights at our dinner at Olio were the Steak Tacos, $15.95, the Veal Francaise, $29.95, and the Porcini Mushroom Dusted Grilled Swordfish, at $31.95. There are a variety of offerings at all price points, and the ambience and service are always the best.

    – Ann Baldelli

    Gargano Pasta & Market

    75 Main St., Old Saybrook

    (860) 339-3726, www.garganopasta.com

    In some cases, it is impossible to have too much of a good thing. For example, Gargano Pasta & Italian Market in Old Saybrook, an offshoot of the excellent Italian restaurant Grano Arso in Chester. At Grano, the kitchen staff take care of the meals, offering super fresh and wisely sourced (often in-house) Italian fare. At Gargano market, you can do the same, albeit in a more casual but tastefully chic environment, or you can try your hand at creating your own Grano experience at home with any of the numerous food stuffs available for sale. Want pasta? Choose from the house-made variety or check out some imported options. Not in the mood to make your own pasta sauce? Gargano offers its own sauces (which aren’t cheap; consider the $16 pomodoro sauce), or create your own with one of many, many gourmet pantry items on the shelves, including oils, vinegars, oils, mushrooms, olives and much more. I trend non-DIY and made good use of the café which serves up a basic menu of sandwiches, pasta dishes, and salads with some surprises throughout. (Not to mention additional prepared foods ready to go.) Among our favorites: the Misticanza Salad ($12); the Italian Beef Sandwich ($18); and the Polpete (meatballs; $13), which might have been sent straight from heaven. The options boggle the mind, and I haven’t even scratched the surface at the coffee bar and bakery, where breads, cannoli, and other treats await. I’m thinking cannoli for dinner will be on the menu at my house very soon.

    — Marisa Nadolny

    1902 Tavern, Lighthouse Inn

    6 Guthrie Place, New London

    www.lighthouseinn.us, (860) 709-7883

    n case you missed a previous episode from the overflowing files of “Things That Happened That You Thought Would Never Happen,” here’s a recap of a segment called “WHAT?! The Lighthouse Inn Re-opened?!”

    Well, not the whole hotel — at least not yet. But the glorious 1902 Tavern is up and running and we’re all better for it. The lounge/restaurant is lovely, the wait staff is spot-on with customer service, and the food is wonderful. The menu is relatively limited, but the choices range from bar-friendly sandwiches and appetizers to full blown “fine dining” entrees.

    Our party of four tried two specials — chicken fried chicken and short ribs — and a pair from the menu — Niçoise Salmon and pasta fresco — and each of us were delighted with the quality and imagination of the dishes. We also shared a slice of Key lime pie and a blonde brownie with whipped cream and caramel sauce. Both were probably too much, serving-wise, but there was no shame when it came to inhaling both.

    Prices are moderately expensive, but certainly reasonable for a) the value and b) what we’re seeing in the context of inflation.

    As someone who lived for two years directly across the circular drive that surrounds the Lighthouse Inn, and who developed an almost familial affection for the place, it’s damned good to see the doors open and know the 1902 Tavern is there for me.

    — Rick Koster

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