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Restaurants Gear Up and Moms Get Their Hopes Up

Area chefs plan different strategies to feed the hungry hordes celebrating their moms this Sunday.

What do you think about when you think about Mother’s Day? Maybe you’ll reminisce about the vase you made out of clay for her in the third grade, but chances are you’re imagining getting together with family and eating.

While several people interviewed by Patch said they were planning to eat at home because they have young children or abhor crowds, others, recognizing the creativity and variety of area chefs, are headed out to treat or be treated. Local eateries are gearing up for perhaps the busiest day of the year with traditional brunch buffets and dinner specials, and many moms say they prefer to return to their favorite spots for their special day.

“My top pick is La Zingara (in Bethel) because they cook traditional northern Italian cuisine that is remarkably precise to the way my mom and nonna cooked certain dishes,” says Desiree Galassi, a mom of three of Newtown. “I also love Sal e Pepe in Newtown because it's like eating at a New York City restaurant with the lovely ambiance and updated Mediterranean cuisine presented with artistic flair.”

For Mother’s Day, La Zingara is serving brunch from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., an “enhanced” version of its regular prix fixe menu with dishes such as Crepe al Salmone Affumicato, a homemade crepe filled with smoked salmon and scrambled eggs finished with mascarpone cream and fresh chives, said manager Roberto Moro. Brunch, which includes three courses and a Bellini or Bloody Mary, will cost $29. For dinner, served from 3:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., he is planning to serve La Zingara’s regular menu, with specials.

Sal e Pepe plans a special menu from 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.. “Some of the items on our regular menu will appear on our Mother’s Day menu,” said Anne Scheurer. “Plus we’ll be mixing it up with some specials such as veal gorgonzola and Mrs. Marini’s Lasagna, the owner’s mother’s recipe,” made with fresh noodles, Bolognese and béchamel sauce, and five cheeses. And with a new pastry chef, Scheurer added, “We’ll have some new and exciting desserts for Mother’s Day.”

Elsewhere in Newtown, two powerhouses of the special occasion meal are gearing up. Mona Lisa will serve dinner all afternoon, from noon to 6, in a modified prixe fixe format with prices between $30 and $45 per person.

“We always feed at least 300,” said Mona Lisa owner Tom Daoutis. “You can choose from seven appetizers, soup or salad, and 12 entrees” including such decadent choices as prime rib and Mona’s chicken, which is stuffed with shrimp, scallops, fresh mozzarella and asparagus, topped with a mushroom marsala sauce, and served over lobster ravioli.

The Inn at Newtown is debuting a new dinner menu to coincide with what is usually one of the top three days of the year along with Thanksgiving and Easter, says General Manager Barbara Boughton.

“We just totally revamped our dinner menu and we added a lot of new options,” said Boughton. “We’ve also added a lot of ‘small plates.’” New offerings include filet mignon with a lobster cream sauce, and salmon with a honey ancho chili sauce and pomegranate couscous. On Mother’s Day, dinner will be served from 3 p.m.to 6 p.m..

From 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., The Inn will serve a buffet of all the traditional brunch items, including Eggs Benedict, for $29.95 per person and $15.95 for children 11 and under.

“We did really kick it up a notch this year. We added a number of new items,” Boughton said of the buffet. “We’re including a Mimosa for the adults and a beverage for the children.”

Shaun Vincent of Woodbury isn’t sure if he will bring his wife, six-year-old daughter and seven-year-old son out to eat, but, he said, “If I was to go out, I’d go to Carlito’s in Woodbury because it’s fancy enough that it could be a special dinner but you can still bring the kids and not feel like you’re disturbing everyone in the restaurant.

Note: Shaun, the restaurants will be full of children on Mother’s Day; don’t worry!

Debbie Jaccarino of Bethel is also headed to Danbury in the direction of Italian food with her mom and possibly her own children, too, depending on their schedules. “We might be going to the Olive Garden,” she said. “They like the soup and salad. There’s always something for everyone.”

Small local restaurants will also see a bump in business from their loyal fans, as some moms choose a particular cuisine for their special day.

“I am hoping someone will take me to the Cafe Little Europa in Brookfield (north of Costco on Federal Road),” says Erin Nikitchyuk, a mom of three in Newtown. “I love the intimate atmosphere and yummy food! They do special menus for holidays like Mother's Day. Honestly, anything that involves spaetzle on the side is top on my list. And their homemade European style desserts are to die for.”

No groaning egg-and-roast buffet for Elaine Swanson of Bethlehem, who is angling for a somewhat untraditional Mother’s Day treat: “This is my hope: Bangkok in Danbury, the best Thai food we have had since we lived just north of San Francisco. I would start with pork and chicken sa-te, then pad thai with shrimp, drunken noodles and our all time favorite dish kai pat pong (chicken, onions and tomatoes in a sweet coconut milk curry sauce). We have never had dessert; we’re always too full!”

But if you are in the mood for that traditional buffet and live somewhere between Waterbury and Southbury, you might consider Oxford House in Oxford, or Jordan’s in Southbury.

Reservations are required at Oxford House, where Mother’s Day brunch, from 11 a.m. to 3, includes every brunch food you could want plus macaroni & cheese and chicken fingers for kids. Guests under two eat free, ages 2 to 12 pay $15, and adults $30.

Jordan’s co-owner Theo Anastasiadis said his restaurant will offer a brunch buffet from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. for $24.95 (half-price for kids age 6-12 and kids under 5 free). A complimentary Mimosa is served to mothers. From 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., in addition to the regular menu, specials will include design-your-own seafood and meat plates, with a choice of two seafood or meat items.

If you’re on a budget, don’t despair: some restaurateurs have you in mind. Chef Brian Springer of Julio’s in Southbury said he hasn’t finalized his menu yet because he needs to see his suppliers’ prices, but expects, as usual, to be “very busy” serving dinner from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m.

“The prices of some things are ridiculous and we try to stay reasonable,” he said. “We’re doing our regular menu as well as dinner specials. We may have some soft-shell crabs, we may have filet mignon. There’s still going to be pizza available.”

And some moms just want their favorite meal, nothing fancy. Carolyn Peterson of Newtown lost her mom, Jill Trigaux, to cancer in October, but says, “If she were here she’d be craving a Sycamore burger.”

Her mom loved the Bethel drive-in restaurant since high school, and, Peterson said, “That’s where we’d go.”

Shannon May 07, 2011 at 01:18 PM
The Lodge Bar & Grill on the Southbury/Oxford line has a great Chef, great food & is family friendly.. & has the best burger in town I might add... As well as Entrees Mom will love!!!
bumblin bill May 07, 2011 at 01:50 PM
I can see the Lodge from my house

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