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Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Where to Celebrate New Year’s Eve in Westport

By James Lomuscio

There are the partyers and there are those who eschew all the hoopla for a quiet evening as the ball drops. And there are those who will be in bed before midnight, preferring to see the start of the New Year as just another mark on the calendar.

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Angelo Capponi, co-owner of Pane e Bene Italian Restaurant, 1620 Post Road East, points to a special New Year’s appetizer, Cotechino e Lenticchie (Lentils and Cotechino Sausage) in which he says lentils represent money, and the sausage, prosperity. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

A survey of Westport restaurants shows that local restaurateurs are catering to all of these customers this New Year’s Eve.

A few establishments are serving up evening meals and closing shop long before midnight, letting their customers revel in the midst of First Night of Westport and Weston celebrations. And a few others conversely are pulling out the stops.

Either way, choices abound, and regardless of one’s hoopla meter, and reservations are encouraged since it remains restaurants’ biggest night of the year.

Here is a sampling of Westport New Year’s Eve offerings:

Rive Bistro & French Kitchen, 229 Riverside Ave. Owner Eric Sierra touts two seatings, 6 to 6:30 p.m. with a $75 fixed price menu and an 8:30 to 9 p.m. seating with an $85 fixed price as a DJ comes on board for dancing upstairs.

“We’re going to be dancing until two in the morning,” Sierra said, adding that the earlier seating will have the advantage of seeing the 7:30 p.m. riverfront First Night fireworks display.

The menu offers “a lot of good things,” he says including duck a l’orange, fillet mignon, lobster salad sea scallops, a choice of appetizers, not to mention champagne.

The Spotted Horse at 26-28 Church Lane offers regular, off-the-menu dinners for early evening diners, but at 9 p.m. a $75 per person fixed price menu kicks in, understandable as a live band, Billy G and the Boys, starts up at 10 p.m.

“You’ll have a choice of a small plate, a large plate and dessert,” says hostess Lorraine Stopa.

Those interested should make reservations as soon as possible, she said.

“We still have a few seats,” said Stopa.

Pane e Bene Italian Restaurant, 1620 Post Road East, will feature a special menu board, including a New Year’s appetizer, Cotechino e Lenticchie (Lentils and Cotechino Sausage), according to co-owner Angelo Capponi. He said the lentils represent money, and the sausage, prosperity.

“It’s an Italian tradition that welcomes in the New Year,” he said, adding a few reservations are still available.

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Maria Funicello, owner of Tutti Ristorante, 599 Riverside Ave., said there is no special menu for New Year’s Eve but plenty to choose from on the regular menu. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

Positano Ristorante, 27 Powers Court, next to the Westport Country Playhouse. Manager Carlos Bernabe says there will be two seatings, 6 and 8:30 p.m., with three courses at the earlier one and five at the latter.

Dishes include halibut, Long Island duck, red snapper, veal chops and pasta, not to mention a complimentary drink per person. The fixed price for the first seating is $49, $79 for the second.

“And we’re going to have live music from 8:30 to 12:30 and dancing,” Bernabe said.

Tavern on Main, 150 Main St. Owner Helen Zervos says, “We are open all day a limited dinner menu al la cart, and we’re also having a DJ come in at 10 p.m.”

That’s when the $55 per person fixed price menu begins, which includes two drinks, “and we’re going to have a buffet spread and small appetizers.”

“We’re down on Main Street in the heart of Westport,” she said.

Not all establishments, however, are handing out the party hats, preferring to be low key. One, surprisingly, is the riverfront haunt typically hopping with young people, Bartaco at 20 Wilton Road.

“It will just be a regular night,” says Will Timmreck manager, adding that the restaurant does not have television sets to watch the ball drop. “It’s just the regular menu, but with a new root vegetable taco. It’s street food you can share.”

Still, he expects a busy night.

“We’re taking reservations from the moment we open at 11 (a.m.),” he said, adding that the kitchen closes at 11 p.m.

Mark Turocy, general manager at Rizzuto’s, 540 Riverside Ave. said the Saugatuck eatery is bracing for its busiest night of the year.

Still, it will not be open until midnight since “everyone seems to come in for dinner and disperse” for First Night, he said. Turocy added that there will be no fixed price per person, so that each customer can choose from the Rizzuto’s menu.

“Believe me, it is one of our busiest nights of the year; its going to be a cray night, but it does drop off before midnight,” he said, adding that last year the restaurant stayed open until midnight only to host one couple.

“Our last seating will be at 10, and we’ll be closing when they finish dinner,” he said.

Maria Funicello, owner of Tutti Ristorante, 599 Riverside Ave., said there is no special menu for New Year’s Eve. She said the restaurant is already heavily booked but some seating is still available.

Restaurant Tarantino & Bar, 30 Railroad Place, is expecting a crowd but has no special menu for New Year’s Eve.

Lora Sforza, whose parents own Via Sforza Trattoria, 243 Post Road West, said the restaurant will have seatings at 6 and 8 p.m., but with no fixed price, and that the kitchen closes at 10 p.m.

“We have a special menu similar to our normal one,” she said, adding that reservations are filling up fast.

“It’s not really a New year’s Eve party,” she said. “People come in for a nice dinner, and they’re off to another destination.”

Bobby Q’s at 42 Main St. is planning nothing different for New Year’s Eve, offering its regular menu during its regular hours from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and from 4:40 to 9 p.m. when it closes. Said one worker there, nothing special is planned.

Viva Zapata Mexican Restaurant, 530 Riverside Ave. is playing it low key, too, but with a little more emphasis on the special night.

True, there’s no fixed price, but there will be come specials added to the menu, says owner Harry Brady. Dinner will be served until 10 p.m., he said.

“It actually works out very well for the families that want to come in and head down to First Night,” he said. “I think it’s a good alternative for people who don’t want to spend tons of money for all the hoopla.”

Post 154, 154 Post Road East, features a $75 five-course fixed price menu featuring king salmon, short ribs, Maine lobster, and local goat cheesecake.

The Blue Lemon Restaurant, 15 Myrtle Ave., will host its 13th New Year’s Eve celebration with a six-course tasting menu. The price is $86 per person. There will be two seatings, the first starting at 5:30 - 6:30 p.m. and the second at 8:30 - 9:30 p.m.  Melissa Mulligan and Friends will provide live acoustic music.

Offerings include an appetizer of seared foie gras with Calvados sauce, apple chutney and crostini (add $10) and grilled quail over shaved Brussel sprouts with pomegranate glaze; main course selections include seared diver scallops over butternut squash puree, sautéed spinach with wasabi sauce and raspberry glaze, and homemade spinach ravioli stuffed with spinach, mushrooms, ricotta, and parmesan cheese with porcini mushroom broth and white truffle oil.

Bistro B at the Westport Inn, 1595 Post Road East, offers a New Year’s Eve special Treehouse Comedy Production dinner show at 10 p.m. Buffet dinner and show package, $79.97 per person or $55 show and two-drink package. Both packages include a champagne toast, party-favors and balloons.

If you know of other special New Year’s offerings, please add them to the comments section.

Dave Matlow contributed reporting.

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Posted 12/29/15 at 07:30 PM  Permalink



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