Good Things Happen When You Eat at the Bar

Almost always. Like 97% of the time. Don’t you agree?

A lot of people going into a place that primarily serves food and includes a good tap or bottle list are typically going to want to sit at a table. They’re there to enjoy a meal together in the company of whomever they walked through the door.  As a couple, if you’re willing to sit at the bar you can usually get a seat without a wait. And IMHO you’ll typically have a richer experience. (more on this in another post)

Stanziato'sThe most recent case in point was last night; the first stop as the professor and I head into our almost ten-day vacation.  Thanks to prior online research on Beer Advocate and such, our dinner destination was chosen for its proximity to our overnight accommodations AND good reviews for a well-chosen beer list and good food.

Upon entering Stanziato’s, “Voted Best Pizza in the Universe,” we were told it would be a 25 minute wait. On the road for four and a half hours, we were hungry and tired, so stepped outside to consider if we might like to try another place we’d passed down the road.  Deciding to start with a beer and wait, we walked back inside and the guy who had originally greeted us said we’d be welcome to eat at the bar. Score!

Now the bar is kind of small, six chairs total maybe, two of which are already taken by a guy who looks like maybe he works there and a woman who appears to be trying to sell him wine.  We hop up on the chairs, get the bottle list, ask what’s on tap, and I try a sample of a brown ale (check out cute sample glass).

sampleThe professor goes with a Captain Lawrence Imperial IPA bottle; I opt for a pour of the Sebago Brown Ale which is served in a tulip glass.  He ordered a sausage pizza, I opt for the fish tacos. (Let me just say these were the BEST fish tacos I’ve ever eaten. Seriously!)

As we’re finishing up, I look around and tell the professor I’d really love to get a pic of the pizza oven but don’t suspect they’d like if I wandered over and started snapping. There was just something so inviting about the other side of the counter, people pushing dough into shape, spreading sauce, snipping fresh herbs, and the warm glow from the wood-fired oven.  Couldn’t help myself, so caught the eye of our initial contact and pantomimed a camera action with a questioning look.

He welcomed me to step right behind the counter and get a good close shot. I wish now I’d had my good camera and had taken more, but you get the idea with this one.  Admiring the tile work, I’m told the person responsible is the same guy sitting at the bar.

pizza oven Matt Lunch

As I walk back to my seat, he gets up, introduces himself as Matt, the owner, and asks if we’re having a good visit. Learning we’re from out of state and heading north to Maine, he inquires if we’ll be stopping in Freeport because there’s a place, he says, we can’t miss. A minute later, he’s gone to the back room to retrieve a bottle of Maine Beer Company’s “Lunch” for us to try. He and the professor volley comments on favorite IPAs and the professor trades a bottle of Short’s Huma-Lupa-Licious IPA from our cooler unavailable on the East Cost. The wine rep tells me about a great place just up the road we’ve got to try, which we’ll make a point to catch on the return trip.

Tucked into a pretty nondescript along-the-highway strip-store location next to a tanning salon, Stanziato’s will not get your attention from the road. But don’t miss the opportunity to step inside. Extra kudos for locally sourcing their ingredients and dedication to an artisanal approach to good food and drink.

Stanziato’s Wood Fired Pizza

35 Lake Avenue Ext., Danbury, CT 06811 | 203-885-1057


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