Litchfield County: Happening in the Hills
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New Preston’s Favorite Wine Bar

By Charles Dubow

Every town needs a place like The Owl. Somewhere people can grab a glass of wine, have a light bite, chat with friends, listen to some live music and—weather permitting—sit outside in the sunshine and enjoy all the above. A local favorite since it opened in New Preston in 2016, The Owl underwent a renovation and expansion in March 2020 that increased its indoor and outdoor seating, and for the first time gave it a proper kitchen. “We were really excited about where we were going,” says co-owner and veteran restaurateur John Bourdeau. “Then COVID hit.”

Bourdeau and his new business partner Ryan Cangello knew they had to scramble. They created creatively spaced tables, constantly disinfected tables and utensils, and upped their takeout business. “We were doing well over the summer when it was warm,” says Cangello, “but with the cold weather approaching we installed heaters to accommodate outdoor dining.” On a recent chilly night, several parties on the tented patio were happily sitting over bottles of wine and The Owl’s new signature—and delicious—thin-crust pizzas.

“The Bee Sting is probably our most popular pizza,” says Cangello, who has a background in catering. “Its sopressata and crushed red pepper drizzled with honey.” (I heartily recommend it.)  Other favorites include a classic cheese pizza, the Italiano pizza (sausage and broccoli rabe), charcuterie and cheese plates, and their recently introduced meatballs.

The two men met at an event at Judy Black Memorial Park in Washington Depot pre-pandemic. “I was cooking and John was pouring,” says Cangello. “He was looking to partner and we just hit it off.”

“We are lucky,” says Bourdeau. “Our customers are both local and weekenders who share our love of good food and a great atmosphere—casual and comfortable, yet sophisticated and hip.”

Closed Monday and Tuesday.

The Owl
18 East Shore Rd,
New Preston

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