SoNo Collection – Bazille

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Located right off of I-95 in Norwalk, one of my new favorite places just opened up their doors for business. The SoNo Collection is one of the only new malls that has recently been built in the entire country, and we are lucky enough to have it close enough to go every day!

This new luxury collection features stores like Bloomingdales, Nordstroms, H&M, a Mercedes Benz dealership and more. The entire mall is spacious, modern, and it is easy to spend a whole day strolling. Located inside of the multilevel Nordstroms, you will notice that a new restaurant takes up most of the top floor with fantastic views of the surrounding Long Island Sound, the beautiful bridges and the parks of South Norwalk through all glass floor to ceiling windows. Bazille opened up with the new mall, and is the best alternative to an old fashioned mall food court. Nordstroms is known to have delectable restaurants in most of their stores, but this take was by far one of the best we have seen.

Once you are seated at Bazille, you must take a minute to look around at the views, as they are almost as breathtaking as the luxurious store itself. We sat in a booth overlooking the harbor, and began to look at the menu. You will notice that the SoNo Collection features no food court, but instead a few bar-style pop-up restaurants along with Bazille. The menu was simple, elegant, and affordable, and we decided to order a few of the dishes that were recommended by our excellent waiter. There is also an extensive wine and drink menu that accompanies the food, but we decided to stick to water for lunch. I ordered the steak frites, which included a tender, flavorful sirloin cut with rosemary french fries. On the side was a kalamata olive aioli, which was sour and umami, perfect to cut the richness of the steak. We also ordered a french dip sandwich, which was piled high with melt in your mouth steak and encased in a crispy yet subtle baguette. The au jus on the side was rich and deep in flavor, and the french fries on the side were fried to perfection and covered with parmesan and herbs. Since we were in a splurging mood, we decided to try a few of the desserts that made our mouths water just by looking at the names.

The chocolate chip cookie skillet was warm and gooey, with a sweet vanilla ice cream on top that melted into the slightly soft cookie. We also picked the white chocolate bread pudding, which was covered in a white chocolate drizzle and berries. The bread pudding was supple and creamy, and the tart berries paired perfectly with the heavy base. Eating this delicious of a meal so high up with the paired view, it felt like we were at a high class restaurant that would cost a fortune. But no, we were right at home at the new SoNo Collection, and Bazille will definitely soon become a weekly favorite! Enjoy the food, and don’t forget to check out the new stores and stands as well!

Mecha Noodle Bar

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Ramen has been on the rise in the United States for a while now, and it just so happened that one of my favorite ramen restaurants in the country opened its doors right near our house, on Bedford Street close to downtown Stamford. Mecha Noodle Bar specializes not only in traditional, Japanese style ramen, but also in the delicious, more simple Vietnamese soup known as “pho” (pronounced “fuh”). This restaurant has 3 other locations in Connecticut, including the close-by one in South Norwalk. When we walked into the new restaurant on Bedford Street, it was bright and airy, with cool wood designs hanging from the ceiling. 

It was a vibrant, fun restaurant, yet it wasn’t loud at all. Their is a large bar area in the center for people to come and hang out and have a drink, and there are larger tables around the space for a more formal lunch or dinner. I am friends with the manager, who came and introduced us to the menu. Along with the pho and ramen, there is a variety of snacks and appetizers, including gyoza, wings, and “bao buns”, which are filled with things such as Korean Fried Chicken (KFC) and tofu. The manager brought over one of their seasonal specialties to try, the crispy brussels sprouts and tofu. The brussels were crispy and sweet, with the crunchy tofu pieces offsetting the spicy thai chili dressing. They were honestly to die for! To drink, we picked an earthy green tea, that was perfect for the cold, snowy day. They also have different flavors of bubble tea, which you could choose to spike or not. For our main course, we all decided on three different soups. The pho ga (Vietnamese rice noodle soup with chicken and bok choy) was comforting and seasoned perfectly, with the side of bean sprouts and thai basil contrasting the richness of the broth. The tonkotsu 2.0 ramen, as it is called, was also rich and satisfying, with the ramen egg cooked just slightly, allowing for the yolk to run into the broth and make it even more tasty. The chashu pork belly was tender and fall apart in your mouth amazing, and the noodles were springy and light. The third soup was the spicy beef noodle soup, which wasn’t too hot, but spicy enough to warm up the brisk weather outside. The noodles were thick and toothy, and the soft cooked egg made the broth luscious. Each dish was cooked to perfection, and the amazing service and friendly staff made the meal even more delightful. If you are looking for a flawless, extremely satisfying bowl of pho or ramen, and more, look no further than Mecha.

Mecha Noodle Bar
151 Bedford Street, Stamford, CT 06901
(203) 801-7577

https://mechanoodlebar.com/menus/stamford

Prime Steakhouse

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It seems like there are infinite restaurants in Stamford nowadays, with new ones popping up left and right. For my husband’s birthday, we wanted to go somewhere that not only had amazing food, but an elegant and comfortable ambiance. We also wanted to be somewhere by the water, where the views and the sound of the sound meld into the experience of the restaurant itself. We decided on one of Stamfords best: Prime Steakhouse.

Prime is an upscale, old fashioned steakhouse that has modern touches, and some of the best service you will find in Connecticut. Walking in reminds you of the best of the old days, with white linen covered tabletops, and an oyster bar flanking the right of the restaurant. Immediately, we were led to a beautiful table directly next to the all glass windows, with an amazing view of the boats and harbor adjacent to the restaurant. Prime not only features steakhouse classics, but new and exciting dishes that lured us in. The wine list is fantastic, with many options ranging from Argentinean reds to sparkling Italian rosés. I had a crisp, light glass of Italian rosé with the bounty of appetizers we started with. Our waiter was one of the best we have had, explaining the specials of the day with a savour that made us starving.

We decided on a selection of Massachusett Blue Point and Kumamoto oysters, along with a creamy burrata and frisee salad, and one of Prime’s specialties: white truffle gnocchi. The oysters were sweet and buttery, cut with the tartness of the fresh mignonette sauce. The burrata was fresh and rich, perfect with the bitterness of frisee and toast points. And the gnocchi, which were pan fried and coated with the essence of white truffle, disappeared almost instantly. The braided french bread on the side was the perfect follow for the sauces left on each plate.

Because it was a special occasion, we chose to “ball out” and order two tomahawk ribeyes for our entrees. The steak was cooked to perfection, a light medium rare, and served with the giant rib bone that the steak was originally attached to. It was smooth and melt in your mouth tender. With the steaks, we decided on the fluffy potato whip, which was not only airy and delicious, but seasoned perfectly as well. We also chose the creamed spinach, which paired amazingly with the steak.

I decided to pair the entree with a full bodied Spanish tempranillo red, which had a deep flavor that went great with the steak. Our waiter described the dishes with a finesse that begged us to order dessert as well, which was a rich fudge chocolate cake covered with fresh whipped cream and candles, to our delight. When the manager realized it was a birthday dinner, he came and wished us well, and presented us with a gift card to use on our next visit, which was a perfect cap on an unbelievable dinner.

When you need a special restaurant for a special occasion, look no further than Prime Steakhouse near the sound, which will exceed your steakhouse expectations, and more.

Prime Steakhouse

78 Southfield Avenue, Stamford, CT 06902

(203) 817-0700

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The Staci Zampa Team’s top 10 ways to celebrate the holidays in Stamford!

The holiday countdown is ON! Chanukah is just 3 days away, Christmas is 6 days away and New Years Eve is 12 days away.

But, the countdown doesn’t mean your time should be spent stressing. Luckily, Stamford is making it easy to make time for what the season is really all about; spending quality time with family and friends! So, whether you’re looking to get into the holiday spirit, entertain out of town guests or just get out of the house, there are several wonderful events in Stamford to make your season merry and bright.

Scroll down for The Staci Zampa Team’s top 10 ways to celebrate the holidays in Stamford!

Photos with Santa at Stamford Town Center
Available through Christmas Eve

Mondays – Saturdays, 10 a.m. – 9 p.m.

Sundays, 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Christmas Eve, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Santa is listening to Christmas wishes and taking photos with children of all ages in the Grand Court at Stamford Town Center. There are several photo packages available, including digital copies of your photos for social media posting. Stamford Town Center is also hosting Holidays In Harmony with musical performances all season long!

The Half Full Winter Beer Garden at Mill River Park

Open through New Year’s
Co-working Tuesdays & Thursdays, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Thursdays, 6 p.m. – 10 p.m.
Fridays, 4 p.m.  – 10 p.m.
Saturdays, noon – 10 p.m.
Sundays, noon – 8 p.m.

The 6,000 square foot tent beside the Steven & Alexandra Cohen Skate Center boasts a holiday festive “après-skate” theme. The bar serves Half Full beer, cider and wine, along with a kid zone featuring visits from Santa, holiday market and lounge. On Saturday, December 21, master sculptors will build a bar and tables out of ice, along with an ice-carved Santa!

Santa’s Coming To LaRocca’s Country Market

Saturday, December 21, 3 p.m. – 5 p.m.

Santa will arrive at LaRocca’s Country Market in North Stamford at 3 p.m. on Saturday, December 21 in an antique fire truck! He’ll be listening to Christmas wishes, taking photos & handing out candy canes to good girls and boys! Plus, enjoy hot cocoa, cider, eggnog & more!

Connecticut Ballet’s The Nutcracker at The Palace Theatre

Saturday, December 21, 2 p.m. & 6 p.m.

Sunday, December 22, 1 p.m. & 5 p.m.

Join the Connecticut Ballet’s holiday tradition as Clara travels with her Uncle Drosselmeyer through the Land of the Snowflakes to the Land of the Sweets and back! Arrive early for holiday shopping at the Nutcracker Holiday Boutique and stay after the show to meet the guest stars in the lobby.

Giant Menorah Lighting at Latham Park

Sunday, December 22, 4:30 p.m.

Join the community in lighting Fairfield County’s largest menorah with Chabad of Stamford on the first night of Chanukah! The annual event includes a Gelt Drop and Olive Oil Press this year. There will also be donuts, hot apple cider and latkes for the whole family!

Christmas Eve Trivia Night at Bareburger Stamford
Tuesday, December 24 at 7 p.m.

Head to Bareburger in Harbor Point for trivia! There will be prizes, swag and $3 off all 20 oz. drought beers!

Chanukah House Experience – Family Day Brunch
Wednesday, December 25, 10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Enjoy a family day with pancakes, waffles and eggs. Plus, special guest Bobbie Doowah who will be performing a concert for children. There will also be a chance to give to those in need by baking Challah and making chicken soup for ‘Shabbat 2 Go’ packages.

Noon Year’s Eve Party at the Main Library, Third Floor AuditoriumTuesday, December 31, 11:30 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.

Ring in the New Year a few hours early, as a family! This event is great for kids ages 3 to 8. Kids and parents will enjoy music, crafts, a photo booth and countdown to noon.

New Year’s Bash at Serafina at the IC
Tuesday, December 31, 7:30 p.m. – 12:30 a.m.

Usher in 2020 with dinner and dancing at the Italian Center Stamford. The event will include a buffet dinner with carving stations, elaborate antipasto platters, raw bar, seafood, specialty desserts, a full bar, midnight champagne toast and more! Price is $150.00 for adults who are Italian Center members and $175.00 for non-member adults. Reservations are limited, so be sure to make them by Friday, December 27.

Prime Stamford: “A Little Party Never Killed Nobody” New Years Eve Soiree

Tuesday, December 31, 9 p.m. – 1 a.m.

Ring in 2020 on the water at Prime in Stamford! Price is $247 per person, which includes tax & 20% gratuity. There will be a top shelf open bar all night! The menu will include Beef Wellington, a raw bar station, hand rolled sushi station, antipasto/cheese station and passed canapés including lobster rolls! There will also be a midnight champagne celebration and music from DJ Banks!

We hope this holiday season brings you health, happiness and quality time with loved ones!

Stamford Spotlight

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Westover

Location, location, location puts this lightly populated suburban neighborhood squarely on the map.

A Staci Zampa Exclusive

Occupying the western flank of Stamford below the Merritt Parkway, bordering Greenwich, Westover is a quiet, mostly residential neighborhood with a population of about 3,000. Westover’s proximity to Greenwich, the Sound Shore coast, New York, and access to major arteries make it a very convenient location to call home base. It offers a strong  suburban vibe balanced by parks and ample green space and is home to a diverse demographic of residents ranging from young professionals and new families to empty-nesters and retirees. Here are of few of Westover’s hidden (and not-so-hidden) gem.

• Westover Pizza – Offering a wide selection of equally delectable salads, sandwiches, and generously portioned hot entrees, Westover’s eponymous Pizza commands a loyal following. They cook the pepperoni and other topics underneath the cheese, harmonizing the flavors of every slice.

234 Stillwater Ave

www.westoverpizzeria.com

• Roxbury Swim & Tennis Club – Offering “four seasons of fun,” Roxbury’s robust aquatics program fields swimming, diving, synchronized swimming and water polo teams, and offers swimming, diving, and water aerobics classes. Courtside, Roxbury maintains tennis and paddle tennis teams, lessons, group clinics, and social mixers for children and adults.

240 Roxbury Rd

www.roxburyclub.com

• Mianus River State Park– Straddling the Greenwich and Stamford border, Mianus River State Park is a delightful, 400-acre urban forest. Open daily from sunrise to sunset, the park offers scenic wetlands, wooded trails, rock formations, a wildflower garden and a cave to explore. Biking, fishing, hiking, and horseback riding are all available. 

Along Merribrook Lane

www.ctvisit.com/listings/mianus-river-state-park

• Exquisite Environments – For those with a green thumb and those who need to hire one, Exquisite is your one-stop shopping destination for all of your gardening and landscaping needs, with an exhaustive selection of trees, plants, and flowers and an expert team of gardeners and landscapers to tackle any size project.

1351 Stillwater Rd

www.exquisiteenvironments.com

• Fort Stamford & Goodbody Garden – Take a step back in time and explore the archaeological remains of a Revolutionary War fort while enjoying the delightful sights, sounds, and smells of the flower garden.

900 Westover Rd

www.fortstamfordpark.org

Get to the (Harbor) Point!

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Exploring Stamford’s crown jewel on the Sound.

A Staci Zampa Exclusive

Like many coastal communities, Stamford is defined by its waterfront – and what better way to be defined than Harbor Point. A peninsula jutting out into the Sound as part of the city’s South End section, Harbor Point shines as one of the largest and most successful redevelopment districts in the nation.

Harbor Point

A mixed-use development, Harbor Point boasts more than 2,000 new apartments and condos, intermingled with swaths of offices, restaurants, and retail establishments where factories once stood. Common spaces include several parks, marinas, and a boardwalk.

Its most notable residential developments include The Lofts at Yale & Towne, a redeveloped lock factory, 101 Park Place at Washington Boulevard, a 15-story luxury apartment complex adjacent to a park, 111 Harbor Point, another 15-story tower, and Beacon Harbor Point, a two-tower, 22-story harborside complex.

Whether you live in Harbor Point itself or elsewhere in Stamford, the district’s myriad retail, food, and cultural attractions are all within easy reach – especially thanks to the Harbor Point Trolley – a free service that shuttles people between Harbor Point and downtown Stamford via a 14-stop, 30-minute loop.

Here’s a rundown of Harbor Point’s can’t-miss attractions:

• Fairway Market. A stop on the trolley loop, Connecticut’s first Fairway outpost – and the chain’s seventh and largest – is an 85,000-square-foot store located at the corner Market and Canal streets.

• Historic District. Spanning nearly 200 acres, this neighborhood in Harbor Point includes some of the city’s oldest buildings, dating back to the late 1800s, and the Pulaski Street Bridge, a wrought-iron bridge spanning the Rippowam River.

• Farmers’ Market. Held Sundays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Harbor Square, the market offers a variety of fruits, vegetables, baked goods, breads, flowers, plants, and more.

• Boating. You don’t have to own a boat to get out on the water – opportunities and options abound. The Carefree Boat Club is a membership program that provides access to a fleet of different style boats for various occasions, from fishing to parties. In addition, Harbor Point’s four marinas offer afternoon and sunset sailboat excursions, kayak and paddleboat rentals, and even a complimentary water taxi service.

• Food & Dining. Harbor Point features a wide variety of cuisines presented by some of the trendiest establishments. From Fortina’s pizza and Italian fare, Dinosaur Bar-B-Que’s comfort food, and Walter’s iconic hot dogs, to Crab Shell’s catch-of-the-day seafood and the heaven-sent treats and baked goods of Patisserie Salzburg, no matter your craving it’s sure to be satisfied.

• Health & Wellness. A robust roster of weekly fitness classes is on offer at Harbor Point’s parks and outdoor spaces — including Zumba, CrossFit, and yoga. Hey, parents – there’s even a weekly “Stroller Strides” class that moms and dads caring can do with their babies. Additionally, Harbor Point is home to several health, wellness, and beauty establishments, including saunas, gyms, salons, and spas to pamper you from head to toe.

Pecan Dreams

YIELD: 65 COOKIES

Pecan Dreams
A Family Favorite

Hunter’s favorite Pecan dreams are a classic cookie we love to bake for the Holidays. They’re crisp, buttery cookies laced with finally chopped pecans and rolled in powdered sugar. prep time 10 MINUTES cook time 12 MINUTES total time 22 MINUTES

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1 cup finely chopped pecans
  • 6 rounded tablespoons powdered sugar, plus 2/3 cup more for rolling
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons water

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat your oven to 350° and line two rimmed baking sheets with a silpat or parchment paper.

In a large bowl, add all the ingredients. Mix on medium-low until combined. Dough should be a little crumbly.

Form dough into little balls (the width being no larger than a nickel) and place on prepared pan, 1-inch apart.

Slide the pan onto the middle rack of your oven and bake for 12-14 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through.

Allow the cookies to cool for 3 to 4 minutes on the pan before rolling a few at a time in powdered sugar.

Eating In

When you feel like cooking instead of dining out or using Uber Eats, Stamford’s gourmet foodie scene will make your meal a masterpiece.

A Staci Zampa Exclusive

While Stamford’s robust dining scene is visible to most residents and visitors alike, the flip side of that coin – the city’s foodie landscape – may not be so apparent. But trust us, it’s thriving. Whether you are the designated cook for your family’s weekly meals, you’ve become inspired to surprise your significant other with a special dinner, or you simply have discerning tastes that require a selection and quality of foods that just can’t be had at Stop & Shop, Stamford is brimming with go-to food destinations all over town. Here’s a rundown on some of the can’t-miss stops for your epicurean shopping list:

• New Wave Seafood – To say that New Wave is your best bet for the “catch of the day” would be a profound understatement. In business since 1985, New Wave sources both fresh seafood from Massachusetts, Florida, Maryland, Maine, and  Connecticut, and frozen seafood from around the world. It’s all on offer at their impressive 20,000-square-foot retail shop, which features a live lobster holding system with a 10,000-pound capacity.

81 Camp Ave

newwaveseafood.com

• La Rocca’s Country Market – If meat is going to be the centerpiece of your meal, look no farther. La Rocca’s has been providing an expertly curated selection of the finest, freshest meats daily for more than 85 years. Their team of butchers will proudly offer cooking and prep advice upon request.

105 Old Long Ridge Rd

lcountrymarket.com

• Beldotti Bakery – A Best of Stamford winner, the Beldotti family bakery has been supplying Stamford with their delicious from-scratch recipes since 1985. A kosher bakery, Beldotti offers a full line of sweet and savory baked goods, from cakes, pies, pastries, cookies, danish and donuts to handcrafted artisan breads and rolls – all baked fresh daily. Special occasion desserts – pies and cakes – are also available.

605 Newfield Ave

203.348.9029 (no website)

• Fusaro’s Italian Deli & Market – Bringing a bit of Arthur Avenue to Stamford, Fusaro’s will hook you up with the best authentic Italian fare on this side of the New York border. A hearty selection of prepared foods and made-to-order sandwiches at the deli counter is nicely complemented by a cozy market brimming with homemade pastas, fresh vegetables, breads, meats, cheeses, and Italian peeled tomato brands and other Italian-brand groceries.

646 High Ridge Rd

203.883.4328

• Mike’s Organic Market – Yes, there really is a “Mike,” and he takes great pride in offering the best “farm fresh, small batch, organic goodness” (produce and other foods) not just at his market, but also at your doorstep if you’d like to sign up for his delivery service.

377 Fairfield Ave, BLDG 1

mikesorganicdelivery.com

• A&S Fine Foods – For those occasions when you want a home-cooked meal, eaten at home, but without having cooked it yourself. A&S offers a wide array of to-go salads, sandwiches, soups, and other prepared hot entrees. They also produce top-of-the-line party platters and provide catering to events of all sizes.

856 High Ridge Rd

asstamford.com

• Darien Cheese & Fine Foods – We know, we know, it’s technically in Darien, but it’s worth crossing the “border” (and it’s only a few minutes away from downtown Stamford). Owners Ken and Tori Skovron have been recommending cheeses to their customers for more than 30 years. They also sell a well-curated selection of olive oils and pastas.

25 Old Kings Hwy N, Darien

203.655.4344 (no website)

• Stamford Downtown Farmers’ Market – Open Saturdays from June through October, Stamford’s weekly Farmers’ Market provides one-stop-shopping for a wide array of local gourmet vendors and regional farms. Fruits, vegetables, breads, jams, baked goods, cheeses, oils, and more.

Latham Park (Bedford Street)