Voters Choose Their Favorites
By Charles Dubow
Photo by Ryan Lavine
As the old line goes, “Vox populi, vox Dei.” Or for those whose Latin may be a little rusty: The voice of the people is the voice of God. And once again the people of Litchfield County have spoken when it comes to nominating their favorite restaurants in Litchfield Magazine’s 2024 Reader’s Choice awards.
This year’s Best Restaurant winner is New Milford’s own Lucia Ristorante, and the accolade is very well deserved. I recently reviewed Lucia for Litchfield Magazine and it was one of the best meals of my year. Chef/owner Antonio “Tony” Caldareri’s menu of Northern and Southern Italian food has been delighting his patrons for more than 16 years. “It’s a real honor to be recognized like this,” says Tony. “New Milford is a great community that has supported us since day one. Litchfield County has become a culinary destination and we are happy to be at the top of people’s list to visit.”
The fact that Bantam’s Arethusa al Tavolo was voted second in the Best Restaurant category and first in the Fine Dining category should come as no surprise to any serious food enthusiast in the county. Since opening ten years ago, it has consistently delivered a dining experience on par with high-end restaurants in New York, London, or Rome. Under the leadership of chef Dan Magill, it offers a New American menu—think dishes such as Icelandic cod, beef short ribs, diver’s scallops, and more. Not surprisingly, Community Table and the Mayflower Inn also won in the Fine Dining category.
Good Eats in New Milford makes a return trip to the winner’s circle, rounding out the top three, and also scoring high in the Best Brunch category. This cozy eatery on Kent Road has only been open a year but has quickly become a community favorite. Executive chef Kevin Deluca continues to offer an eclectic menu—think crispy shrimp, roasted lamb, fried chicken, mac & cheese, and miso pasta.
But there were plenty of other winners as well. Two of my favorite restaurants from the past year came in tops in the Best New Restaurant category: Vegas Mexican Restaurant & Bar in New Milford and Geppetto Osteria in Torrington. Vegas, located on Railroad Avenue, is exactly the kind of cheerful and delicious Mexican restaurant that every community needs: authentic and fresh entrees, plenty of tequila, and an overall experience that guarantees a fun night out. Geppetto, helmed by husband and wife team Carlo and Michelle Pulixi, brings a hip, artisanal sensibility to traditional Italian fare. The pasta is always fresh and the cured meats are all hand-made. I highly recommend a visit to both.
Once again the wildly-popular White Horse Country Pub & Restaurant in Marbledale swept many of the individual categories, such as Best Brunch, Best Burger, Best Casual Dining, and Best Outdoor Dining.
And for the pizza lovers out there, Pizzeria Marzano and Sasso’s, both in Torrington, plus The Owl Wine Bar & Restaurant in New Preston, won the category. I am also a fan of the brick oven pizza at Swyft, as well as the pies at KPG Kitchen & Bar and Cozzy’s, all of which are in Kent.
Finally, it’s important to note that several highly respected restaurants in our area—such as Materia, Ore Hill & Swyft, West Street Grill, Winvian, Fern—and numerous others—deserve recognition, in our opinion, but simply didn’t receive enough votes. If you feel that one of your favorites has been overlooked, make sure to cast your vote next year. Remember: Vox populi, vox Dei!