A look at podcast guests’ favorite restaurants in West Hartford.
By Jeff Lovanio
After 52 episodes, and as we close out season one of The Experience We-Ha Podcast, we want to first off thank all of the guests for taking the time out to speak with Ryan and me. It was truly an honor and a privilege to learn more about the people who help make this town what it is and we look forward to talking with more community movers and shakers in season 2.
Being a town known for its many restaurants we believe we would be amiss if we didn’t ask each of our guests, who are West Hartford locals …
“What is your favorite dish and at what restaurant?”
We were surprised this question put a good amount of people on the spot, but they obliged and gave their answers – some quicker than others and a few had multiple responses. After recording their answers we made a list of the TOP 5 restaurant mentions and the dishes they like, so here they are:
* some items are not available at all times
#5 – Flora (3 mentions)
Nestled on Raymond Rd right across from Whole Foods on the second floor, Flora takes the No. 5 spot. This plant-based and vegan-friendly restaurant is unique in the community and is headed up by Chef K.C. Ward.
- ‘CHICKEN’ ‘PARM’ | marinara | ‘ricotta’ | seasonal salad
- MAC & NO-CHEESE | elbow pasta | cauliflower puree | roasted mushrooms | chive | truffle oil | crispy onion
- AVOCADO CHOCOLATE PUDDING
#4 – Barcelona & Max Burger (TIE – 4 mentions)
Famous for its Spanish tapas dishes, Barcelona, a long-time staple in West Hartford Center is a crowd-favorite whether you are looking for a leisurely Sunday brunch, a lively happy hour, or want to dance the night away late night.
- Hangar Steak w/ Truffle Vinaigrette (2 mentions)
- Patatas Bravas w/ Salsa Brava, Garlic Aioli
- Chicken Pimientos w/ Potatoes, Lemon, Hot Cherry Peppers
How good can a hamburger be? Bursting on the scene in 2009 during the infancy of the “gourmet burger” era, Max Burger, the second Max Restaurant Group location to open in West Hartford, delights the community with burger creativity. The best part, although it has “burger” in the name, it’s not a one-trick pony as you can see below.
- Max Classic – lettuce, tomato, max sauce, artisan roll
- Hand-Cut French Fries – enough said!
- WINGING IT – choice of bbq, buffalo, ninja sauce
- BLACK BEAN BURGER – avocado, roasted peppers, green goddess dressing, pepper jack cheese, whole wheat toast
#3 – Treva Restaurant & Bar (5 mentions)
With a bustling bar scene and a restaurant serving traditional, Italian homemade pasta and cuisine, Treva made its mark as Doro Restaurant Group’s very first venture (of three) in West Hartford Center. It’s no surprise, this establishment comes in at No. 3 of top mentions on the Experience We-Ha podcast.
- Tonnarelli Cacio e Pepe – pecorino cheese, black pepper (2 mentions)
- Costata di Manzo – prime ribeye
- Salmon Arugula Salad – parmigiano reggiano, lemon, cherry tomatoes
- Braciole de Maiale – bone-in pork chop
#2 – Restaurant Bricco & Zohara Mediterranean Kitchen (Tie – 6 mentions)
Billy Grant’s very venture in West Hartford and a labor of love, Restaurant Bricco, which opened in 1996, is the longest current-running restaurant in West Hartford Center. A favorite of many around town, Bricco seems to be that go-to place where you’ll always get a great home-cooked Italian dish.
- PENNE ALLA VODKA – sun dried tomatoes, basil, cream & Grana Padano (2 mentions)
- FRIED EGGPLANT
- RUSTICHELLA RIGATONI BOLOGNESE – classic meat sauce, fresh ricotta & grated nutmeg
- MUSTARD BBQ CEDAR PLANKED ORGANIC SALMON – potato puree, melted leeks, green beans
If you like traditional Mediterranean farm-to-table cuisine served tapas-style and you haven’t been to Zohara, where have you been hiding?! DORO Restaurant Group’s third establishment in West Hartford Center – with an open-kitchen design and a generous open-air patio – has been a crowd-favorite ever since it opened its doors in 2016.
- Market Hummus – Hand-Foraged and Locally-Farmed Toppings, Served with Fresh-Baked Pita
- Persian Lime Swordfish Kabob – Herb Salad | Lemon | Olive Oil
- Lamb Kofta | Tzatziki – with Charred Shishito Peppers, Roasted Red Onion, Grilled Tomato, Cauliflower and Saffron Basmati Rice
- Moroccan Cigars – Ground Lamb | Ras El Hanout
- Whole-Roasted Cauliflower – Pine Nuts | Pomegranate | Schug
- Braised Brisket Hash – Farm Eggs | Potatoes | Onions | Shishito Peppers (Brunch menu)
#1 – Arugula Bistro (7 mentions)
Topping our list as the number one mentioned restaurant after 52 episodes of the Experience We-Ha Podcast is West Hartford’s hidden gem, Arugula Bistro! Let Chef/Owner Christiane Gehami cook one of her mouth-watering Mediterranean dishes for you as you dine in one of West Hartford Center’s longest-standing restaurants.
- Filet mignon of tuna – seared sushi-grade ahi tuna on a bed of coriander-scented sautéed baby spinach and oven roasted tomatoes, finished with a sesame-ginger glaze (2 mentions)
- Warm roasted eggplant & wonton “napoleon” – sweet red onions, tomatoes, feta, watercress and hummus in a light curry vinaigrette
- Grilled chicken flatbread – grilled chicken, tomatoes, burrata, finished with arugula & a balsamic reduction
- Fig & asparagus flatbread – fresh fig compote, blue cheese & asparagus
- Moules frites – mussels steamed with tomatoes, curry, and onion marmalade, served with sweet potato fries and saffron tarragon mayonnaise
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