Stephanie Civitillo grew up in Gonzales, Louisiana (known as the “Jambalaya Capital of the World”), graduated from LSU and came to the Nutmeg State 17 years ago for a job at Travelers. In May, she and her husband Victor opened Roux Cajun Eatery in Simsbury, a love letter to her Southern roots with gumbo, red beans and rice and crawfish étouffée.
Cooks know the term “roux” as a fat-and-flour thickener for sauces (particularly with Cajun food), but it’s also Civitillo’s grandmother’s maiden name.
Roux’s menu spans the greatest hits you’d expect from a Bayou State native: jambalaya, Gulf shrimp and grits, po’boy sandwiches with fried shrimp, ham and cheese or Andouille sausage; a muffuletta with housemade olive salad and traditional bread from New Orleans’ Gambino’s Bakery. At every table, there’s a bottle of Crystal hot sauce. During crawfish season (March to July) Civitillo ships live crustaceans from her home state to make traditional boils with potatoes, Andouille sausage, mushrooms and artichokes.
Desserts are made in house: a classic Doberge cake with chocolate custard filling and German chocolate buttercream, king cake by the slice (with fillings like raspberry cream cheese and Nutella and banana). Other sweets include pecan pralines, chocolate bread pudding with chocolate rum sauce and fresh, hot beignets with powdered sugar.
Roux also has what Civitillo calls “a super secret Yankee menu” — dishes that might be considered sacrilege compared to traditional Cajun fare. “Gumbalaya,” gumbo served over jambalaya, is a creation of Victor’s, and while Civitillo insists “the Yankee made it up,” she admits it’s delicious. “If I’m going to put it on the menu, I’m going to say ‘It’s not Southern,’ ” she says with a laugh.
Sous chef Adam Arakalien suggested fried catfish tacos, and the menu also features jambalaya and shrimp and grits “on a stick,” with proteins and vegetables in a kebab format and rice or cheese grits on the side.
The restaurant is open for breakfast on weekends, with eggs, biscuits and gravy and pastries. Civitillo says she’d love to add a jazz brunch in the coming months.
She and the Roux team also accommodate dietary restrictions with gluten-free and vegetarian/vegan options.
Eat in or take out?
Roux is opening up its space for a larger dining room with a bar, and turning its current limited indoor dining room into its takeout counter. A spacious patio features fire pits. The restaurant offers delivery through GrubHub, and will soon add DoorDash and Dine In Connecticut. — Leeanne Griffin
Roux Cajun Eatery
10 Wilcox St., Simsbury
860-217-9195, rouxct.com, @rouxcajuneatery on Instagram
Hours: Wed.–Fri., noon–9 p.m., Sat. & Sun., 8 a.m.–9 p.m. Closed Mon. & Tue.