If you live in New Milford or the surrounding area, there’s a good chance you’ve already been to the recently opened Zaragoza Restaurant – or, you know somebody who has. I feel like we all love a new restaurant in Litchfield County. And for us, we especially love when that new restaurant is a tapas restaurant! Finally! Tapas! Dinner without the commitment to one meal. Select a bunch of small bites and share (or not) with family and friends.
With a menu right up our alley (see our choices below) and hand-crafted cocktails, it was the perfect place to go for my birthday! Eating, drinking, blogging – happy birthday me!
Between mouthfuls of one delicious thing after another…we chat with Artie Praino, owner of Zaragoza.
Zaragoza – a small city in Spain – have you been?
I’ve never been to Zaragoza, Spain, but from everything I’ve read, and the beautiful photos I’ve seen, it’s a magnificent place. I do hope to go there someday. Something that struck me about the place is the amazing and colorful paintings on the buildings. What some may call graffiti here, is awesome artwork on the streets there. We have artwork that we commissioned for the restaurant walls painted from a photo we saw on a building in Zaragoza.
Artichoke stuffed with mascarpone cheese, wrapped in prosciutto, served over orange sauce. Yummm
What special things are you serving up in Zaragoza?
In just a few weeks, we are finding that people are buzzing about our calamari with watermelon, our artichokes stuffed with cheese, our scallops, pasta, salads….We are actually realizing that everything we served is truly special. Something for everyone and our chef is a genius with flavor combinations and presentation. And of course, our handcrafted cocktails are special, indeed!
Eggplant topped with tomato confit and manchego cheese
What made you decide to open a tapas restaurant in New Milford?
I have been thinking about opening a tapas restaurant for years. It’s my favorite kind of food – shared plates, light bites, sharing family style over good conversation. That is what tapas always meant to me. I also love the village of New Milford – the downtown area along the green and Bank Street. Just so warm, charming, yet hip and modern. Everything came together when we saw the space opening up at 31 Bank Street. We knew it would be the right home for Zaragoza.
Fried goat cheese bite with honey (this, you have to get this)
Funny, that’s how we’d describe Zaragoza – warm, charming, yet hip and modern. How has the reaction been so far (we’ve heard nothing but good)?
We are feeling really good about our first few weeks. The reaction has been beyond our expectations. People are spreading the word like crazy and coming back again and again with friends and family. We get compliments on the food and drink… but we also get wonderful accolades about the atmosphere and vibe here. So far so good!
Guacamole with plantain chips
What were some of the challenges (if any) you faced in opening Zaragoza?
We wished we had been able to open the outdoor patio area when we opened the whole place, but it is a longer process than we had thought. But it’s all good! It will be done in a few weeks!
Photo above by Tom McGovern
Your favorite thing on the menu?
I can’t choose my favorite! I love everything on the menu. The chef and I worked tirelessly on it and I wanted to be sure that I would eat everything we are offering. I do love the Bourbon!
That would be the cucumber martini on the left, and the strawberry mojito on the right
Tell us about the cocktails! 🙂
We create handcrafted drinks from the freshest ingredients and from small batch spirits – many from Litchfield County. I have the bartenders treat each drink like a work of art. And I am lucky because they are talented at creating these stunning and tasty treats. We also have a lovely and extensive wine list and our beers are attracting a lot of people! We have at least 8 craft beers on tap every day. We have a drink for every possible taste bud.
Why should people come to your restaurant? What makes it special?
Our tapas and our cocktails are out of this world. They’re really mouthwatering and there’s something for everyone. The design and feel of the place is super comfortable but elegant. My staff loves working here and it shows in the food, the presentation, and the service. I consider that very special!
Toffee surprise (don’t quote us on the name, we’d enjoyed our cocktail(s) by this point)
Oreo cookie pudding (aka yumalicious)
Artie shared with us that when the patio opens (follow them on Facebook for updates) they will start to serve Sunday brunch tapas soon. We are SO there!
Zaragoza Restaurant, 31 Bank Street, New Milford, CT 06776
Check out their menu here!
Photos: Lora (except for two interior shots by Tom McGovern)