Connecticut has a tasty addition with John and Morgan
Nealon's new restaurant, Cugine's Italian, located at 121 Towne
Street in Harbor Point, which opened in June 2022. The restaurant
serves Dinner Thursday through Sunday, and Brunch on
Saturdays and Sundays. The attractive restaurant has a cool "speakeasy"
vibe, a creative cocktail menu, and a well-crafted menu by Executive Chef
Rick O'Connor. Ample parking as well as its proximity to the Stamford
Train Station, make it a highly desirable restaurant location.
Cugine's Italian, Stamford, CT
is perfect for lazy weekend Brunches, and we had an excellent Brunch at Cugine's
Italian on Saturday, June 25, 2022, which opened on June 10, 2022. Executive
Chef Rick O'Connor is the talent in the kitchen and his menu is diversified
enough to appeal to a wide variety of palates.
Chef Rick O'Connor, Owners John & Morgan Nealon
and Morgan Nealon, who also Taco Daddy located a
few doors down from Cugine's Italian, wanted their new restaurant to have a
speakeasy vibe, so there is no signage, and the entrance is through a "flower
shop." The chicly elegant restaurant has dark sage walls, ceiling, and tables,
to create a monochromatic canvas as a showcase for the opulent sparkling
crystal chandeliers. The inviting ambience has well-chosen music, an expansive
and well-stocked bar lined with swivel bar stools, gold high-top votives grace
the wood tables, and a large painting of Frank Sinatra graces the back of the
restaurant setting the mood. Framed black and white photos of chefs whom the
owners have known or have worked with, line another wall, as a nod to those who
have inspired. The ambience has a hip New York City or London vibe, made all
the better since it is in Stamford, Connecticut and is easily accessible by car
with plenty of parking in their parking lot or by Metro North Train
(Stamford Station stop).
My Way & Copacabana cocktails
restaurant has an inspired cocktail menu with cocktails named for famous places ike the Copacabana, Cotton Club (Harlem, New York), The Savoy (London), the Rainbow
Room (Manhattan) and Jimmy Weston's (Manhattan Jazz Club), to name but a few.
We started with the Copacabana cocktail, which was a delectable libation that
paired tequila, Campari, lemon, and grapefruit soda, and the My Way cocktail, a
nod to Frank Sinatra, made with Woodford Reserve Bourbon, B&B, Fonseca
Port, Ginger, and Angostura Bitters. Both cocktails were well-balanced with
lovely layers of flavor.
The menu is
divided into Brunch offerings, Antipasti, Primi, Contorni, and Desserts. There
is also a Crudo menu. We began with The Bagel Spread from the Brunch section, which
was beautifully presented and consisted of four Popup Bagels accompanied by layers
of pepper-crusted lox, smoked whitefish spread, dill cream cheese, cherry
tomatoes, thinly sliced cucumbers and onions, and a generous mound of capers. What
makes the bagels especially notable is that they buy their dough from Popup
Bagels and bake the bagels in-house and serve them warm. The bagels were about
as perfect as you can get with nice chewy crusts. They also cure their own lox
in-house, and make their whitefish spread in-house.
sampled their Frittata from the Brunch menu, which had roasted red peppers,
onions, zucchini, mushrooms, and melted fontina cheese, and was garnished with
arugula. Also delicious from their Brunch menu was the Eggs Florentine, which
were two poached eggs on a bed of spinach on toasted English muffins drizzled
with Hollandaise and accompanied by golden crispy roasted potatoes that were perfectly
seasoned. For our pairing cocktail, we had the Cotton Club, made with Old
Forrester Bourbon, Ginger, Cardamom, Sage, and Lemon, which was a knockout of
the Primi section of the menu, we sampled the house-made Potato Gnocchi with
Wild Boar Ragu, which was astounding. Making gnocchi is a delicate art as the
dough needs to have the perfect texture so it will not be too soft or be too
tough. Chef Rick's gnocchi had great consistency and were fork tender. Paired
with the wild boar ragu redolent with rosemary and garnished with a dusting of
cheese and fresh herbs, it provided yet another reason for us to want to return
to the restaurant.
Gnocchi with Wild Boar Ragu
Capellini Al Limone
sampled their Capellini Al Limone pasta which was capellini cooked al dente and
presented in a lemon, parmesan, and butter sauce, topped with chopped pistachio
nuts, and garnished with fresh basil leaves. The pistachio nuts added flavor to
this simple, but very tasty dish, as well as gave texture to the pasta and provided nut
Tiramisu & Pistachio Cannoli
our dining experience on a lusciously sweet note, by sampling their Tiramisu
presented in a bowl with layers of flavor enhanced with grated chocolate
tableside, and their Pistachio Cannoli, which were miniature crispy cannoli
shells filled with delicately sweetened ricotta and pistachios. To cap off our
gastronomic tasting at Cugine's Italian, in lieu of coffee or espresso we had their
Page Six martini, which was an especially tasty Pistachio Espresso Martini,
with a pistachio rim and whole pistachios floating in the cocktail.
Pistachio Espresso Martini
O'Connor, the talent in the kitchen, has a very impressive culinary background
including working at Marea, Chef Michael White's Michelin star restaurant in
New York City, as well as at others, before joining John and Morgan Nealon. He
brings his passion, dedication, and culinary experience to deliver a memorable
dining experience for Cugine's Italian patrons.
Javin Bell's cocktails are inventive, inspirational, absolutely delicious, and
worthy of a trip to Stamford alone for the cocktail menu, however, you will
definitely want to go there for the food. Allow yourself enough time to
appreciate all the nuances of the restaurant, arrive hungry and work your way
through the oh-so-tasty menu. Whether you opt to dine there for Brunch on
Saturday or Sunday or have dinner there Thursday through Sunday, the restaurant
is sure to please.
Pull up a bar stool!
time cheers and bon appétit!
also like to read about Cugine's Italian and Chef Rick O'Connor Recipe in the Chefs"
Recipes section where he graciously provides a recipe for Mussels with CalaBrian Chili Butter to tempt your palate into
making a trip to experience Cugine's Italian for yourself.
Cotton Club Cocktail
Italian is open Thursday and Friday from 5:30 pm until 1:30 pm, Saturday from
11:30 am until 1:30 am, and Sunday from 11:30 am until close.
See you at Cugine's Italian
information on Cugine's Italian, please visit the restaurant's Instagram page: www.Instagram.com/cuginesitalian @cuginesitalian
Street (Harbor Point neighborhood)
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