After a year of either no restaurants or limited experiences with them, it’s so refreshing to be able to start thinking ahead to our next great meal while out on the town. If that town happens to be Old Saybrook, CT we have a few places to recommend that you might enjoy!
Luigi’s has been owned and operated by Luigi DiBella’s family since 1956 and has always been one of Old Saybrook’s premier destinations for a wholesome, home-cooked meal. Every dish represents recipes that have been in the family for generations, with roots going all the way back to the Old Country of Italy, and fine imports directly from Italy as well. The family legend attributes Luigi with the nicknaming of Italian stuffed sandwiches as “grinders” back in the 1940s, which was his first culinary specialty, but today you can enjoy a wide variety of authentic entrees and pair them with any number of delicious wines or cocktails. I love to start with the broccoli rabe with sausage, sautéed in garlic and olive oil, and then move on to their simple but excellent chicken marsala, sautéed with fresh mushrooms and imported sweet Marsala wine.
Alforno’s was opened in 1992 with the singular goal of bringing New Haven’s thin, charred, brick-oven style pizza to the shoreline but over time the pizzeria evolved into a full-fledged, from-scratch Tuscan-inspired restaurant. Slow-cooked beef and pork roasts are used to create their famous Bolognese sauce, and they even make their own special sausage as well. These tricks and secrets and their dedication to authenticity and service have helped Alforno’s gain favorable reviews from the New York Times, Zagat, and Connecticut Magazine. Seasonal menu highlights include zucchini blossoms and a fish stew known as brodetto – if they’re available when you’re there, don’t miss out. Year-round favorites include starting with their hearty Tuscan white bean soup, made with carrots, onions, European bacon, and house-made chicken stock, and an entree of housemade Tagliatelle with the aforementioned Bolognese sauce.
The Tea Kettle Restaurant is one of the area’s best spots for breakfast and lunch and has even been highlighted by the Food Network. Take your pick from over forty different varieties of stuffed pancakes (my favorites are the Lemon Poppy Seed and the Bacon Apple Pie!) and over twenty different kinds of burgers! If you have any dietary preferences or restrictions, the Tea Kettle is ready and able to accomodate them – they specialize in Paleo, Gluten-free, Keto, Whole 30, Organic, and Vegetarian options, so you can get what’s best (and tastiest!) for you every time. If pancakes aren’t your thing, there’s plenty of other options as well, including breakfast sandwiches and an entire Southern “corner” of the menu with biscuits and gravy or chicken and waffles, which I’m obsessed with.
The Monkey Farm Cafe is a historic tavern with lots of personality. Originally the Saybrook Inn, which served as a home primarily to elderly bachelors, the restaurant took shape with time and renovations, specializing first in roast beef sandwiches and eventually acquiring the name Monkey Farm Cafe because of the good-hearted chaos that the innkeepers, staff, and customers fostered. They’re cash only, but with an ATM on site, and they’re very upfront on their menu that any meal you order may take a little while, so bring your appetite but plan accordingly. Personally, I like to go with the classics and order a roast beef sandwich and pair it with some sweet potato fries and a bottle of beer.
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