Home » Chef Rick O’Connor Recipes – Cugine’s Italian, Stamford, CT, USA

Chef Rick O’Connor Recipes – Cugine’s Italian, Stamford, CT, USA

Cugine's Italian, Stamford, CT
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Chef Rick O'Connor - Cugine's Italian, Stamford, CT - photo by Luxury Experience

Executive Chef Rick O’Connor of Cugine’s Italian, located in Stamford, Connecticut provides a delicious taste from the attractive new restaurant owned by John and Morgan Nealon, which opened at 121 Towne Street in June 2022, with his recipe for Cugine’s Italian Mussels with Calabrian Chili Butter and Grilled Bread, to tempt your palate into making a reservation. The restaurant is open for Dinner Thursday through Sunday, and Brunch on Saturday and Sunday. Bon Appetit!


Cugine’s Italian

We had the pleasure of meeting with Chef Rick O’Connor after having a long and leisurely, and very tasty, Saturday Brunch on June 25, 2022. The attractive restaurant has a "speakeasy" vibe, cool music to set the ambience, a diverse culinary menu that will inspire lots of tasting and shared plates, and creative cocktails.

We sampled a wide range of their delectable menu items including The Bagel Spread, house-baked Popup Bagels, pepper-crusted lox, smoked whitefish spread, dill cream cheese, cherry tomatoes, thinly sliced cucumbers and onions, and capers; Frittata, roasted red peppers, onions, zucchini, mushrooms, fontina cheese, and arugula; Eggs Florentine, Potato Gnocchi with Wild Boar Ragu; Capellini Al Limone, and for dessert, Tiramisu, and Pistachio Cannoli, all paired with creative cocktails.

Chef Rick O'Connor - photo by Luxury Experience
Chef Rick O’Connor

After enjoying Brunch, Chef Rick O’Connor took time from the kitchen to speak with Luxury Experience. This talented and creative chef grew up in Greenwich, Connecticut where he was active in sports and was on the high school wrestling team. While he loved food, during wrestling season, he had to maintain a special diet, so when his father took him and a friend to the famed New York restaurant, Gramercy Tavern, for a birthday celebration once wrestling season was over, it changed his life. Previously unsure of his future career path, after experiencing the culinary excellence at Gramercy Tavern he made the decision that he wanted to learn to be a chef. Now the question was whether to enroll in culinary school or go directly to work in a restaurant. A friend advised him to work in a restaurant first, as he could always go to culinary school later.

Chef Rick O'Connor, Owners John & Morgan Nealon - photo by Luxury Experience - photo by Luxury Experience
Chef Rick O’Connor, Owners John & Morgan Nealon

He honed his culinary craft working at such top restaurants as Marea, Chef Michael White’s Michelin-starred restaurant in New York City, at Moderne Barne in Armonk, New York, and at Kawa Ni in Westport, Connecticut, before joining restaurateurs John and Morgan Nealon’s culinary team. When not working in the kitchen, Chef Rick O’Connor likes to spend time at the beach near his home and of course, eating great food.

Chef Rick O’Connor graciously shares a delectable taste of Cugine’s Italian with his recipe Mussels with Calabrian Chili Butter and Grilled Bread, to tempt your palates into making a reservation at the Stamford, Connecticut restaurant.

Chef Rick O’Connor – Cugine’s Italian Recipe – Mussels with Calabrian Chili Butter and Grilled Bread


Mussels (0.45 kilogram)
Butter (225 grams)
Calabrian Chili (75 grams)
White Wine (177 ml)
Mint Leaves

Note: Chef Rick notes to use a good white wine.

Method: First prepare the Chili Butter. Get a half-pound of butter to room temperature. Stem and seed the chilis before rough chopping them and folding them into the room temperature butter.

Next, slice two cloves of garlic, add about a tablespoon of olive oil to the pan or pot you will steam the mussels in, and lightly sauté the garlic before adding the mussels along with the white wine.

While the mussels are steaming, toast or grill a few slices of the baguette, and use the remaining garlic clove to rub against the bread once they are toasted to impart its flavor.

When all the mussels are opened and fully cooked add 4-ounces of the Calabrian Chili Butter to the pan and stir to create an emulsion with the mussel broth. Turn the heat off, chop the mint and add it into the pot.

Transfer the mussels and its broth to a serving vessel and garnish with the baguette slices and more mint.

Until next time, cheers and bon appétit!

You might also like to read about our dining experience at Cugine’s Italian in the Restaurants section.

Cugine’s 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.

Ample complimentary parking as well as its proximity to the Stamford Train Station, make it a highly desirable restaurant location.

For more information on Cugine’s Italian, please visit the restaurant’s Instagram page: www.Instagram.com/cuginesitalian

Cugine's Italian, Stamford, CT

Cugine’s Italian
121 Towne Street (Harbor Point neighborhood)
Stamford, CT
United States
Reservations: Open Table
Telephone: +1 203-276-9266
Instagram: www.Instagram.com/cuginesitalian @cuginesitalian

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