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El Pollo Guapo in Wethersfield

Over the course of a year, our food writers, Erik Ofgang and Mike Wollschlager, eat at a lot of restaurants and write many reviews. Here are their favorite spots from 2018.

Alforno Trattoria, Old Saybrook

In business for over a quarter-century, Alforno is now under the watchful eye of Ben Zemmel, who, along with his wife Michelle, is taking over the reins from his parents. The bar area is new, the pizza is still New Haven style, but the tagliatelle Bolognese left the biggest impression of all. With a labor-intensive, three-day process just to make the sauce, it’s a pasta dish that makes you reassess what a pasta dish should be. — MW

860-399-4166, alforno.net

Bridgestreet Libations & Temptations, New Hartford

Nestled in tiny downtown New Hartford, inside a building older than any of the people who will ever walk in it, BLT is chef Jim Casey’s showcase. Upscale without being snooty, BLT presents a new menu every month and creativity touches every plate. Casey says he wants guests to be “excitedly uncomfortable” and compares a meal in his restaurant to receiving a gift on Christmas. “You don’t know what’s inside but you know it’s awesome.” I couldn’t agree more. My favorite restaurant of 2018. — MW

860-238-7444, bltnewhartford.com

Broken Symmetry, Bethel

There is nothing broken about the symmetry between the San Diego-style burritos and the Belgian ales and IPAs brewed at this “gastro brewery.” Brewers Christopher Sanzeni and Kevin Arrington and restaurateur Lisa Tassone teamed with Paul Mannion, owner of The Green Grunion food truck, for this downtown hotspot in a former railroad station. Try the Cali burrito, which comes stuffed with carne asada, shredded cheese, guacamole, crema and french fries. — EO

203-826-9907, brokensymmetrybrew.com

El Pollo Guapo, Wethersfield

This absolute gem on the northern end of the Berlin Turnpike specializes in rotisserie chicken and just about any dish that can be made using rotisserie chicken. Because the food is both ridiculously delicious and on the healthier end of the fast-casual spectrum, this is the type of place you could easily find yourself at multiple times a week if you live nearby. Side dish of the year: plantains with garlic lime aioli. Guapo got even more handsome in December when their second location opened on Front Street in Hartford. — MW

860-436-4982, elpolloguapo.com

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Bridgestreet Libations & Temptations in New Hartford

Gaudí Tapas and Wine, Danbury 

Twin sisters Saray Ruiz and Noemi Ruiz, who grew up near Barcelona, Spain, are the heart and soul of this one-of-a-kind restaurant. You will enjoy the creations of chef Juan Flores, who has worked at Shell & Bones in New Haven, but a trip here is a cultural experience as well as a culinary one. Mix and match tapas orders and enjoy housemade sangria as you experience an evening out that feels like visiting old friends. — EO

347-925-8940

Main Street Pint and Plate, Bristol

Growing up in Bristol, more often than not we would leave town when going out to eat. Whether that reputation is still deserved or left over, it was a treat to go back home and find a place so good it would actually bring people in from other towns. The atmosphere is lively, the beer list is top notch and the food is stellar. Comfort food like mac and cheese is right at home on the menu alongside Faroe Island salmon. Make sure you start things off with the Brussels sprouts appetizer. — MW

860-583-5150, mainstreetpintandplate.com

OKO, Westport

After earning rave reviews at The Cottage across town, chef and owner Brian Lewis opened this dazzling restaurant dedicated to Japanese cuisine. Beautiful and incredible-tasting sushi is offered alongside dishes like the restaurant’s namesake, the okonomiyaki, a thick, hearty pancake reminiscent of, but richer than, a latke, and topped by braised, ramen-style pork belly, and the vegetable tempura, served in a thin, almost golden layer of breading. — EO

203-557-8404, okokitchen.com

Swyft, Kent

Chef and owner Joel Viehland has worked at world-famous restaurants like Noma and Gramercy Tavern. His considerable talents are evident at this 40-seat restaurant housed in a historic 18th-century building in downtown Kent. Must-try specialties include the Neapolitan-style pizza using dough made with natural fermentation, and the burger, from beef raised at the nearby Rock Cobble Farm. All told, the restaurant offers an elite New York City-style dining experience in a picturesque Connecticut town. — EO

860-592-0404, orehillandswyft.com

This article appeared in the January 2019 issue of Connecticut Magazine. You can subscribe here, or find the current issue on sale here. Send us your feedback on Facebook @connecticutmagazine or Twitter @connecticutmag, or email editor@connecticutmag.com.

The senior writer at Connecticut Magazine, Erik is the co-author of Penguin Random House’s “The Good Vices” and author of “Buzzed” and “Gillette Castle.” He is also an adjunct professor at WCSU’s MFA Program and Quinnipiac University

Mike Wollschlager, editor and writer for Connecticut Magazine, was born and raised in Bristol and has lived in Farmington, Milford, Shelton and Wallingford. He was previously an assistant sports editor at the New Haven Register.