Vermont’s restaurant scene represents a panoply of regional and international flavors. It’s possible to take a tour of the world without leaving the state. To help you embark, we have gathered, in the next few pages, a small taste to whet your appetite. We’ve included a short write-up of each restaurant to get you started. Bon appétit.
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 10 through Oct. 20. Reservations required. (802) 985-8498. www.shelburnefarms.org.
The Spot — 210 Shelburne Road, South Burlington. This surfy little place in a 1950s Phillips 66 batwing gas station building offers an experience you won’t find elsewhere in Vermont: surfboards, palm trees, and tropical fish. Think “West Coast of New England” vacation ambiance. The menu is fresh, local, and colorful. Try the Huevos Rancheros for breakfast or, for lunch, The Peahi fish tacos. The dinner menu changes seasonally, and starts at 5 p.m. with a full bar, Switchback on draft, and a healthy selection of wines. Open seven days a week, with on-site parking. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast and lunch daily 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.; dinner, Tuesday through Saturday, 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. (802) 540-1778; www.thespotvt.com.
La Villa Bistro — 3762 Shelburne Road, Tenneybrook Square, Shelburne. This charming, 60-seat, bistro-café offers soft lights, jazz music, a full bar, and a Mediterranean menu featuring gourmet pizza, made-to-order pasta dishes, panini, and creative grill entrées. A Fresh Network partner, this family-owned and -operated restaurant prides itself on serving local burgers and free-range poultry. Pastas are made in-house. The featured ravioli dish changes daily. Try the smoked Alfredo, made with sautéed Italian meats, garlic, smoked mozzarella, tomatoes, spinach, and fettuccine. You’ll enjoy the creative lineup of pizzas. Eat in or take out. Grab a bottle of wine or beer to take home at Enoteca Wine & Provisions next door. La Villa hours, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday, Sundays 4 to 8:30 p.m. www.lavillabistro.com. (802) 985-2596.
Pauline’s Café and Restaurant — 1834 Shelburne Road, South Burlington. Chef David is the creative energy behind one of the area’s best-known chef-owned restaurants. Pauline’s has been serving locals and tourists alike for over 30 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.
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 Monday and Tuesday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Wednesday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Saturday, noon to 10 p.m.; Sunday, noon to 9 p.m. Two doors down from the Majestic Theater. Stop in before the movie or after the show. (802) 879-9492. www.mexicalivt.net.
The Windjammer — 1076 Williston Road, South Burlington. Locally owned and operated for over 35 years, The Windjammer claims to be Burlington’s original steak and seafood restaurant. In addition to classic American fare, the menu offers vegetarian and gluten free options, and an extensive salad bar. Specialty cocktails, craft beers, and a Wine Spectator wine list complement both the restaurant and pub menus. The restaurant has supported Vermont farms, producers, and businesses since 1977. (802) 862-6585. www.WindjammerRestaurant.com.
The Upper Deck Pub — South Burlington. 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
Buono Appetito — 3182 Shelburne Road, Shelburne. There’s a reason Buono Appetito has been pleasing area diners for over 40 years: the Cartularo family. From the beginning, Buono’s, as it’s known to fans, has been a trusted source for freshly prepared, creative food. The executive chef, Joseph Cartularo, is the son of Ken and Julie, the current owners and operators. He studied at the New England Culinary Institute and honed his skills through travels to San Francisco, New York City, and Phoenix. The menu shines from using as much local produce and meat as possible, from pizza to burgers to Italian classics to pasta entrées made with homemade pasta (gluten-free on request). You’ll find Vermont craft beers and local wine to accompany your meal. Serving Sunday through Thursday 4 to 9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 4 to 10 p.m. (802) 985-2232; www.buonos.net.
Ramunto’s Brick Oven Pizza — 18 Taft Corners Shopping Plaza, Williston. Aficionados of genuine New York pizza need to check out Ramunto’s. The Williston location is a small, but flavor-packed source of from-scratch pizzas and calzones, hot and cold subs, intricate salads, and local micro-brews. It’s one of eight locations (four in Vermont) for this small chain owned by Cliff Ramunto. The dough, made fresh every morning, is hand-tossed only when you order it. Slices and whole pizzas are available in 16-inch traditional New York pies, The Sicilian, The Stuffed,; The Pesto Pie (nut-free), and The Garlic Knot. There’s a long list of specialty pies and a topping lineup to satisfy every taste. Open Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday,
11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Sunday, noon to 9 p.m. (802) 879-1000; www.ramuntos.com.
Leunig’s Bistro & Café — 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.
Toscano Café/Bistro — 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
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.
Leonardo’s Pizza — 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.
• To make your restaurant part of the next Dining Out, call (802) 862-4109.