Dining Out

These short reviews of some of our favorite restaurants and watering holes will help you find a starting place on your quest for Vermont’s finest.

starry-night-808-RQ2.jpg Starry Night Café     5371 U.S. Route 7, North Ferrisburgh. Midway between Middlebury and Burlington in a renovated cider mill sits this fine-dining restaurant. Chef David Hugo prepares creative American cuisine using traditional techniques with a focus on freshness and simplicity and featuring local, seasonal and organic produce wherever possible. Appetizers range from fresh Maine crab to steak tartare. A favorite entrée is grilled lamb chops with tequila, lime, and chipotle butter. Prices start at $5.50 for appetizers and $15 for entrées. Desserts include crème brûlée with ginger shortbread. Reservations recommended. Open Wednesday through Sunday 5:30 to  9 p.m. (802) 877-6316; www.starrynightcafe.com

chefs-corner-808-rq.jpg Chef’s Corner     2121 Essex Road, Suite 7, Taft Corners, Williston. Chef’s Corner is owned by chefs Jozef Harrewyn and Scott Sorrell. This bright, airy café has a menu of distinctive breakfast and lunch selections. For breakfast, try eggs Benedict, waffles or pancakes, or homemade granola, fresh fruit, and yogurt. Luncheon sandwiches are served on fresh-baked breads. Specials include fish, panini, salad nicoise, and a variety of deli salads. The bakery’s breads, pastries, and incredible cakes are available daily and on special order, including special-event cakes and catering. Open Monday 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Tuesday through Friday 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Sunday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.  (802) 878-5524.

joyce's-noodles-808rq.jpg Joyce’s Noodle House     5 Carmichael St., Essex Junction. For dining in or takeout, Joyce Fong, the chef-owner of Joyce’s Noodle House, creates lip-smackingly authentic Chinese dishes generous with vegetables. Joyce’s will make any menu item a vegetarian one on request. The restaurant’s specialties are dim sum Mandarin-style, Cantonese meat, spicy Szechuan and Hunan dishes, and noodles, soft, crispy, fried, in soups, delicious noodles. The menu includes several Thai dishes, and combination dinners are served all day. No MSG is used, and Joyce’s cooks with only 100% vegetable oil. Prices are reasonable, and credit cards are accepted. (802) 288-9828. www.joycesnoodlehouse.com.

magnolia-808-rq.jpg Magnolia     One Lawson Lane, Burlington. Magnolia calls itself a “breakfast and lunch bistro,” and that fits. The ambience is definitely downstairs bistro with heavy stone and brick walls and deep basement windows; a place for that 7 a.m. business meeting. The food has an upscale appeal and is moderately priced. Presentation counts at Magnolia, as do flavor and innovation. Breakfast and lunch specials are served all day and feature the classic and the innovative. The crisp Magnolia French toast is made with organic bread. The Lime waffle has a hint of fresh lime juice and zest. Vegetarians won’t be disappointed by the tofu “omelets,” but there’s plenty for the traditionalists: eggs benedict, huevos con diablo, steel-cut oatmeal, and an elegant house-cured salmon on hash browns. For lunch, try the garbanzo burger or the local steak sandwich. Lunch-size salads range from a mesclun mix served with goat cheese and other goodies to Mango shrimp salad tossed with black bean vinaigrette, and fresh mozzarella salad. 846-7446. www.magnoliabistro.com.

toscano-808-rq.jpg Toscano Café/Bistro      27 Bridge St., Richmond. Opened by chef Jon Fath, a 1995 graduate of the New England Culinary Institute, and his wife, Lucie Bolduc-Fath, this cozy little bistro offers Old World charm in downtown Richmond, just 20 minutes from Burlington. Fresh flowers on the table and soft candlelight create a romantic ambiance. The menu features rustic Mediterranean cuisine with fresh seafood and veal, fine Italian wines and Vermont microbrews. Appetizers include crab cakes with saffron aioli, and Prince Edward Island mussels with white wine, plum tomatoes and basil. Entrées include wild mushroom ravioli with Gorgonzola sauce, Parmesan-crusted salmon with saffron risotto, and beef tenderloin with peppercorn demi. Soups and desserts, such as crème brûlée and cappuccino chocolate mousse, are made in-house. Open for lunch Tuesday through Saturday; dinner Tuesday through Sunday; brunch Sundays. (802) 434-3148.                    

three-tomatoes-208-rq.jpg Three Tomatoes Trattoria      Maple Tree Place, Williston and Church Street, Burlington. In 1992, Three Tomatoes began serving great Italian food on Burlington’s Church Street Marketplace. Now with two locations, both are landmarks for casual, fun, family dining. At Three Tomatoes in Burlington, a custom-built, wood-fired brick oven bakes the best thin-crust pizza this side of Napoli. From pasta to panini, the chefs at Three Tomatoes prepare simply delicious, wholesome and healthy food. Menu specials include fresh seafood, lamb, chicken and sausage grilled on hardwood charcoal, as well as fresh salads, antipasti and lots of vegetarian pasta dishes. Serving lunch and dinner in Burlington, dinner only in Williston; summer and fall patio dining at both locations. The Williston location is on the Marketplace in Maple Tree Place at the Majestic Ten Cinema Complex, 192 Boxwood St., Maple Tree Place in Williston.  Call (802) 857-2200. The Burlington location is at 83 Church St. in Burlington. Call (802) 660-9533.

paulines-808-rq.jpg Pauline’s Café and Restaurant      1834 Shelburne Road, S. Burlington. Chef David is the creative energy behind one of Burlington’s best-known chef-owned restaurants. Pauline’s has been serving locals and tourists alike for over 20 years. Whether you’re seeking an intimate dinner for two or entertaining large groups of family, friends, or clients, the restaurant offers a fine-dining experience in a casual, comfortable environment. Menus feature many locally raised or foraged edibles from the Lake Champlain basin. Famous for its Maine crab cakes, Pauline’s also offers local free-range chicken, organic American beef, and farm-fresh vegetables in season. The wine list is carefully chosen to complement the food and features many biodynamic and organically produced wines from around the world. Dining options include a casual café; relaxed, elegant upstairs dining rooms; two private party rooms; an outdoor patio in season; and a cozy bar. All dining venues are wheelchair accessible. Reservations are recommended. (802) 862-1081. www.paulinescafe.com

tilleys-cafe-808-rq.jpg Tilley’s Café      161 Church St., Burlington (802) 658-4553. A nautical-themed restaurant serving creative seafood, American, and vegetarian fusion cuisine. Diners enjoy sipping Long Trail Tilley’s Ale or one of many tropical cocktails sitting beside one of the two saltwater fish tanks, or simply gazing at the island mural painted by internationally renowned hometown mural artist Lillian Kennedy. The brainstorm of Realtor Suzanne Johnson, Tilley’s Café will be sure to tempt the taste buds with daily specials to complement the already exceptional menu. Open 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Monday through Saturday; Sundays 5 to 10 p.m. Serves lunch and dinner. Fresh fish is flown in from Hawaii. Burlington’s only  restaurant with valet parking, Wednesday through Saturday, 5 to 10 p.m.

leonardos-208-rq-281.jpg Leonardo’s Pizza      83 Pearl St., Burlington; 1160 Williston Rd., South Burlington. Leonardo’s Pizza is a local, family-owned and -operated company, established in 1990. It has been voted “Best Pizza” by several local surveys. A member of the Vermont Fresh Network, Leonardo’s offers traditional or gourmet pizzas, whole wheat or white crust and a wide assortment of fresh toppings. Five new “favorite” pizzas have been added to the menu, including basil pesto chicken and four-cheese fusion. Leonardo’s provides free delivery and business charge accounts. Open seven days a week. (802) 862-7700 or (802) 951-9000.  

leunigs-cmyk-207-rq-www.jpg Leunig’s Bistro      115 Church St., on the Church Street Marketplace, Burlington. Experience Leunig’s and you’ll believe its motto: “The spirit of an Old World café in the heart of downtown Burlington.” It has charming decor, creative food and a well-appointed bar. At the corner of Church and College streets, Leunig’s offers a prime spot for downtown people-watching (or for being seen). Leunig’s special-blend coffee and fresh orange juice make a great start for Saturday or Sunday. Serving lunch, dinner and brunch. Open Monday through Thursday  11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Saturday 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Sunday 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. (802) 863-3759. www.leunigsbistro.com.

foodees-808RQ.jpg Foodee’s      Located in the Essex Shoppes and Cinemas on Vermont 15 in Essex. Foodee’s serves award-winning “Blue Ribbon” gourmet pizza, available on five kinds of crust, including San Francisco sourdough and whole wheat. Customers can choose from more than 35 combinations or make their own from a huge list of fresh toppings. All pizzas are available in a take-and-bake style to cook at home. Beverages include a large selection of specialty sodas, juices, and waters and more than 60 domestic, imported, and micro-brewed beers. Foodee’s also offers fresh salads, appetizers, and the signature Stuff ’n’ Baker sandwiches. Diners may enjoy their selections in the casual dining rooms or take them with. Open daily at 11:30 a.m. (802) 878-3834.

windjammer208.jpeg Windjammer      1076 Williston Road, South Burlington. You can expect simple, classic cuisine at the Windjammer. The fish is fresh, steaks are hand-cut on the premises daily, and the salad bar has the freshest produce available. The Windjammer is known for its prime rib, slow-roasted all day with the right seasonings, making it juicy, tender, and delicious. Try it alone or paired with combos of steak, seafood or the house favorite, teriyaki chicken. The restaurant features a boat-shaped salad bar, an abundance of fresh vegetables, and cold salads and fixings that complement each dinner entrée. Serving lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.; and dinner only on Sunday, 5 to 9 p.m. Reservations accepted. (802) 862-6585. 

chow-bella-808-rq.jpg Chow!Bella Café & Wine Bar      28 N. Main St., St. Albans. Chef-owner Connie Jacobs Warden has created an environment offering upscale dining in a charming, Old World environment. Sample microbrews are on tap at the inviting Italian granite bar; booths provide privacy and comfort. A brick room in the back provides private space for meetings or gatherings, with ample space for dancing. Two private rooms seat from 10-75 people. Chow!Bella specializes in supporting local farmers and producers and the menu reflects it. The gill features steaks, free-range chicken, salmon, pork chops, or portabella mushroom. A variety of pastas are offered, each with its delicately seasoned sauce, and Bella! flatbreads are unparalleled. Open Monday and Tuesday 5 to 9 p.m.; Wednesday and Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. www.chowbella.us. (802) 524-1405.

juniors-708TH.jpg Junior’s Italian      Two locations: 85 South Park Drive, Colchester, left from Exit 16 off I-89 North; and 176 Main St., downtown Burlington. Known as “Vermont’s Little Italy,” Junior’s is family-owned and -operated, offering classic recipes from the Old Country. This destination spot for authentic Italian has something for everyone: casual fine dining (inside or out), traditional pizzeria, scrumptious  bakery, full-service bar, WiFi, and space for private events. Open for lunch and dinner; dinner reservations recommended. For dining room/reservations, (802) 655-0000; pizzeria, take-out and delivery, (802) 655-5555; catering and bakery, (802) 655-5282; downtown Burlington (802) 862-1234. For more information and menu, go to www.juniorsvt.com.

pastabilities-808-RQ.jpg Pastabilities      The factory store and take-out counter are located at the comer of Williston Road and Industrial Avenue in Williston. Fresh pasta is what keeps patrons returning to Pastabilities. The staff mixes, rolls, and cuts artisan pasta in the open, viewable kitchen. Favorites include spinach fettuccine, chili flake ravioli, and hand-cut gnocchi. The restaurant also makes hand-tossed pizza with fresh local ingredients, including Vermont mozzarella. In fact, more than 98 percent of the pizza ingredients come from Vermont. Pizzas are available either hot or take-and-bake with a pre-cooked crust ready to finish at home. Other dishes include baked ravioli, cannelloni, spaghetti pie, and chicken parmigiana. Pasta can be bought frozen on-site and at local health food stores, delis, and supermarkets. (802) 598-5513. www.vermontpasta.com