The 25 Best New Restaurants in Connecticut

Opening a restaurant is a mountain of a task in the best of times. These eateries not only opened their doors during the past two pandemic years, but have excelled to be among the state’s best. Now that’s worth celebrating.

Also see the rest of this year’s Best Restaurant Awards, including lots more Experts’ Picks and the results of our Readers’ Choice survey. And be sure to watch for these 7 dining trends in 2022.

Here, in no particular order, are our Experts’ Picks for the 25 best restaurants that opened since the start of 2020.

The Wheel Stamford, CT. Photo by Lisa Nichols.

The Wheel, Stamford

The anchor restaurant in the collaborative space known as The Village, The Wheel has become an instant hit in Stamford’s Harbor Point neighborhood. A buzzing, often busy dining room boasts an incredible seasonal cocktail program designed by Employees Only and The Aviary alum Kyle Tran. Warmer months feature spritzy, fruity tiki drinks, while colder temperatures see the inclusion of stronger, bolder rye- and bourbon-based beverages. 

Eats at The Wheel are predominantly New American with a focus on quality ingredients mostly from local farms curated by Mike Geller of Mike’s Organic. Culinary director Chris Shea’s menu has handhelds in the form of a big, beefy burger and a butter-poached lobster roll, plus plenty of small shareable plates, ample seafood and meat choices, and enough gluten-free fare to choose from. There’s Neapolitan-inspired pizza, too, that’s equal parts crispy, chewy and appropriately bubbly thanks to a custom Marra Forni oven. That same oven sees additional action when it’s used to finish a spectacular beer-brined brick chicken with color pops from charred broccoli rabe, confit tomatoes, and creamy salsa verde. 

But the dessert at The Wheel is a must. No, seriously. It’s not just an afterthought, nor do you just need a spoonful to balance out all the savory. Pastry chef Alessandra Altieri Lopez — who worked with Thomas Keller for nearly a decade — has made The Wheel’s sweet treats mandatory. A few of her post-dinner mainstays so far have been a “Root Beer Float” (housemade Madagascar vanilla bean ice cream, stout cake, and Foxon Park Root Beer granita) and a pistachio cheesecake that’s not overly sweet with a texture that’s like biting into a cloud. — Andrew Dominick

4 Star Point, Suite 101, 475-270-1300, thevillagewheel.com@thevillagewheel