The following 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.
Three Brothers Pizza & Grill
973 Roosevelt Highway, Colchester. This is a family owned and operated restaurant right off of Exit 16 in Colchester. The focus here is local, with familiar suppliers such as Cabot Cheese, Ben & Jerry’s Homemade, and Shadow Cross Farms. Still, authenticity reigns, as meats like mortadella and capicola come straight from Italy. This is a menu inspired by the brothers and their friends, and it includes a long list of pizzas, plus calzones, stromboli, pasta dishes, burgers, sandwiches, wraps, wings, salads — something for everybody. You can dine in, take out, or request delivery. The brothers offer catering, too. Nine domestic and micro-brews are on draft. Open seven days: Sundays 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Monday through Saturday 11 a.m. to closing. (802) 655-5550; www.threebrotherspizzavt.com.
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. 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. Full bar. 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.
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, Wi-Fi, 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.
Inn at Shelburne Farms
1611 Harbor Road, Shelburne. One of Gourmet magazine’s “Best Farm-to-Table Restaurants in 2007.” The restaurant showcases food of the season, grown sustainably at Shelburne Farms and on local Vermont farms. Menus reflect classic culinary techniques and traditions with regional influences, and incorporate the freshest ingredients including Shelburne Farms’ own Cheddar cheese, made from the milk of its Brown Swiss herd. The Marble Dining Room and its terrace are open to the public for breakfast, dinner, and Sunday brunch. They provide a spectacular view of Lake Champlain, the Adirondacks, and the formal gardens of the historic Inn, built in the 1880s as the home of the Webb family, who founded Shelburne Farms. Open May 6 through Oct. 17. Reservations required: (802) 985-8498. www.shelburnefarms.org.
83 Pearl St., Burlington; 1160 Williston Road, 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. Leonardo’s offers a pizza with whole wheat dough crust made with King Arthur organic flour. A member of the Vermont Fresh Network and Local First Vermont, Leonardo’s offers traditional, gourmet, and vegetarian pizzas; salads; bread sticks; and five flavors of chicken wings. Free delivery, business charge accounts, and online ordering at www.leonardosonline.com. Open seven days a week: Burlington, (802) 862-7700; South Burlington and Winooski, (802) 951-9000.
210 Shelburne Road, South Burlington. In 2008, Russ Scully bought this 1950s Phillips 66 batwing gas station for a restaurant and hangout. Outside, it retains its historic bones. Inside, patrons are transported to the carefree Hawaiian islands. The breakfast/lunch menu is mouthwatering, with creative sandwiches like The Peahi: two fish tacos topped with mango salsa; or a build-your-own omelet. For dinner, try the LaPlatte blackened tri-tip steak on sautéed kale with scalloped potatoes and citrus herb butter. Movie nights feature “wind-and-wave” films from the DVD vault. Check the website for live music performances. Breakfast and lunch daily, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.; dinner Tuesday through Saturday, 3 to 9 p.m. (802) 540-1778; www.thespotvt.com.
27 Bridge St., Richmond. Opened in 2003 by Chef Jon Fath and his wife, Lucie Bolduc-Fath, this cozy little bistro offers Old World charm in downtown Richmond, a short, 20-minute drive from Burlington. Lace curtains, fresh flowers, and the soft glow of candlelight create a romantic ambience. Toscano’s Rustic Mediterranean menu features fresh seafood, local and imported cheeses, made-in-house desserts, fine Italian wines, and Vermont microbrews. Enjoy favorite appetizers like crispy artichoke hearts with lemon aioli or beef carpaccio with baby arugula. Dinner entrées include the house-made sweet Italian sausage with roasted peppers and vegetarian options such as handmade ricotta gnocci with Vermont chèvre. Open for lunch Tuesday through Saturday; dinner Tuesday through Sunday; brunch Sundays. Call for reservations and info: (802) 434-3148. www.toscanocafe.com
Natural Provisions Market and Deli
329 Harvest Lane, Suite 100, Williston. There might be no better way to enjoy a nutritious and tasty lunch than sitting at a café table suffused with daylight at Natural Provisions market. Natural Provisions is a health food store, owned and operated by Vermonters, whose goal is to be large enough to satisfy all, yet small enough to know the customers by name. The café is a place to sit and chat with friends over a cup of coffee or tea, a sandwich, or a bowl of home-made soup. Every Friday in summer, rain or shine, there’s a lunchtime outdoor barbecue serving vegans and meat-lovers alike. Or pick up food for dinner at the deli, which prepares family-style dinner entrées. The market also offers catering packages or will customize a menu for your special event. (802) 876-1400; www.naturalprovisions.com
Mexicali Grill & Cantina
On the green at Maple Tree Place, Williston’s Mexicali Grill & Cantina is a popular spot for lovers of the true, tangy flavors of Mexico. Inexpensive and casual, its menu covers the basics, with interesting variations on burritos, enchiladas, fajitas, chimichangas, tamales, nachos, chiles rellenos, and quesadillas. Try one of the homemade salsas, with your choice of zing ranging from mild to XXX hot. Daily specials on food and drinks. Awesome food and fantastic margaritas. Catering available. Open daily 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Two doors down from the Majestic Theater. Stop in before the movie or after the show. (802) 879-9492. www.mexicalivt.net.
10 Park St., Essex Junction; 485 Colchester Ave. and 1548 North Ave., Burlington; and 10 Farrell St., South Burlington. In all the brouhaha about buying local, one thing sometimes gets forgotten: Local providers of those out-of-town, big-business brands are often owned by your neighbors and provide jobs for other neighbors. That’s the case with Domino’s Pizza, which has four locations in Chittenden County. Our Domino’s franchises are owned by Steve Litwhiler, whose roots as a Vermont businessperson go back to over 40 years ago, when he opened the first Domino’s Pizza outside of Michigan. But that’s only one reason to order takeout from Domino’s. You choose the crust thickness, from deep dish to crunchy thin or Brooklyn style, or try Artisan Pizzas — ready for a hearty party. You can order by phone or online, at www.dominos.com, and follow your order with the cool “pizza tracker.” Essex Junction, (802) 878-1111; Burlington, (802) 658-3333, or (802) 658-6558; South Burlington, (802) 658-5667.
1076 Williston Road, South Burlington. Specializing in steak, seafood, and prime rib, the Windjammer has been a local favorite since 1977, and for good reason. The beef is aged for four to six weeks for optimum flavor, marbling, and tenderness. The prime rib is seasoned, then slow-roasted all day, making it a house favorite. And the seafood is as fresh as you can find anywhere. Every entrée includes a trip to the boat-shaped salad bar where over 40 items of the freshest local produce are available. An extensive wine list, with more than 100 labels, has been selected to complement the menu. (802) 862-6585. www.WindjammerRestaurant.com.
The Upper Deck Pub
Located above the Windjammer Restaurant is a family-friendly, sports-themed pub that offers its own, extensive menu featuring steak and seafood plus a great selection of burgers, sandwiches, and appetizers. Complementing the menu is the Upper Deck’s broad wine list and a variety of microbrews on draft. (802) 862-6585. www.windjammerrestaurant.com/upper-deck-pub.shtml
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.
Healthy Living Café
222 Dorset St., South Burlington. Healthy Living’s fare has expanded considerably since 1986, when the owner put out a Crock-Pot of vegetarian chili to entice customers shopping its aisles. Since moving a few years ago to its new, airy, and beautiful space, Healthy Living and its café have garnered a well-deserved reputation for an eclectic mix of foods, served to hundreds of shoppers and diners every day, including Sunday brunch with live music. The café’s staff has grown to 40, and the menu features ethnic specialties; vegetarian and vegan options; local meats; custom-built sandwiches and panini; and breads, desserts, and pastries from the in-house bakery. Hands-on classes and demos are conducted regularly. The menu changes frequently, but always offers fare that’s pleasing to the eye as well as the tongue and the soul. Open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily; hot bar lunch/dinner 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Sunday brunch 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. (802) 863-2569. www.healthylivingmarket.com/.
• To make your restaurant part of the next Dining Out, call (802) 862-4109.