Dec 9, 2011
12:18 PM
Café Connecticut

Mexican Food Is Hot! Part 1


Last night was the opening of Cactus Rose Cantina in Wilton in the spot where the Mediterrranean Grill used to be. (It opens tonight to the public.) Mother-daughter owners Katerina and Maria Pertesis teamed with cb5 Restaurant Group to transform the space into a Southwestern hacienda, with dark wood framing and furnishings, terracotta floors, adobe walls, leather draped columns, vibrant art work and flickering candles. There are wood-burning fireplaces inside and out, and a spacious patio.

We found the sweetish margaritas disappointing, but if the passed hors d’oeuvres and killer salsas we sampled are any indication, the fare here will be very good indeed. The menu, which borrows from Mexican, Native American and southwestern traditions, will feature dishes such as roasted-corn soup with smoked chilies, ancho-glazed free-range chicken, grilled tequila shrimp, pork carnitas and quarto leches cake. And the place is definitely on-trend, using only natural beef, heritage pork, free-range chicken, wild-caught and organic fish and seafood, and organic eggs.

Speaking of packing them in, our spies tell us you can’t even get in the door at Bodega (which calls actually itself "Hispanic, Spanish, Latin") in Fairfield. A look at the menu of delicious-sounding street foods explains why: antojitos (“little cravings”) such as Nacho de Costilla—with grilled short rib, chihuahua cheese and tomato-jalapeño salsa ($9) and guacamole & chips “freshly slapped to order” ($7); seared ancho-chili shrimp tacos with cucumber-mango salsa and chipotle mayo ($4); roasted pork torta with watercress, jicama, jalapeno and cucumber ($8); and the Wet Sandwich, hanger steak, chipotle gravy, roasted tomato and yucca fries ($11).

The drinks roster includes 50 tequilas, lots of cerveza and tantalizing drinks like the "bodegarita," the "jala-piña" and . . . the "Natalie Portman" (Centenario “Roseangel” tequila, lemon juice, agave and cava).

More next week!

Cactus Rose Cantina, 5 River Rd., Wilton; Bodega, 1700 Post Rd., Fairfield, (203) 292-9590.

Mexican Food Is Hot! Part 1

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