Update 7/20/12: Bella Anthony’s is officially closed as of April 2012. To quote one user from Urban Spoon, “ The place is padlocked and clearly not in operation. A phone call confirmed the line is disconnected. Their website is not operating.”
Let’s be blunt. If you’ve lived in Connecticut long enough, you’re probably sick of your predictable weekend routine. All too often, you find yourself saying, “I can’t find anything to do.” Don’t give up! Let CT Snapshot be your guide. Each week, we’ll review the best and worst of Connecticut’s weekend life. Be informed. Never settle for predictability. This week, we examine Hole In The Walls.
The Online Etymology Dictionary defines the term “hole in the wall” as a “small, unpretentious place.” Some of the best restaurants in Connecticut are hole in the walls! They often serve up an authentic taste that trumps the flavor of popular chain restaurants. BE CAREFUL. Not every hole in the wall is as authentic as it purports.
Banana Brazil Luncheonette
Overall Grade: B+
Location: Main St (State St), Danbury, CT 06810-7803
Atmosphere: 8.8/10- We really had to dig to find this place. Banana Brazil Luncheonette does not have a website and it is not widely known. These factors are the hallmarks of a true “hole in the wall.” Banana Brazil Luncheonette lies in a diverse neighborhood on Main Street in Danbury. This street features a variety of restaurants from around the world. This is the perfect location for a place like Banana Brazil. Its interior bares similarities to a modest café because it is not particularly colorful and has minimal seating. But the aroma of South American cuisine makes the atmosphere truly captivating. From the moment you walk in the door, you will smell freshly cooked meats and vegetables.
Service: 9/10- The bulk of Banana Brazil functions like a buffet. Unlike some other buffet places in Connecticut, the food is always fresh and always hot. The chefs cook diligently in the kitchen and the cashier greets customers with a friendly attitude. When we passed the street a few hours after we ate, we discovered that Banana Brazil is open well into the night. These long hours benefit the traditional “sit down” customer along with those who prefer take-out and/or late night snacking.
Selection/Price: 8/10-The buffet costs only $8! This rivals HomeTown Buffet’s standard price of $10 or more per person. Banana Brazil offers a delicious variety of food including: fried chicken, garlic pasta, plantains, salad, beans, rice and a rotisserie of slow-cooking cuts of meat. You can also purchase authentic, South American sodas. This delectable selection left us wanting more. The majority of Connecticut is largely unfamiliar with Brazilian cuisine. Banana Brazil could broaden its selection by exposing its customers to traditional desserts or stews.
Taste: 9/10-The food is nothing less than savory. We recommend you sample of all of the dishes. Polish off a sweet plantain. Chow down on some finger-lickin chicken. Munch on a juicy slice of meat. If you can’t finish it all, take it home in a doggy bag. The flavor won’t disappear if you decide to reheat it for a quick lunch.
In a nutshell: 34.8/40-Think of Banana Brazil as an opportunity to experience the dishes of different culture. Don’t expect fancy decorations or enticing music. Banana Brazil keeps it simple and authentic. Like any true “hole in the wall,” this restaurant is a delectable discovery. Since 1998, Banana has kept it simple and delicious.
Overall Grade: D
Location: 580 Silas Deane Hwy. Wethersfield
Atmosphere: 5/10- Bella Anthony’s first sparked our interest on Groupon.com. We saw the description of the Inghilterra family and their “old-world recipes” and felt elated. Bella Anthony’s website added to the intrigue with details about musical entertainment in the coming weeks. Unfortunately, this is where the intrigue ended. The show tune singer/piano man could not save the restaurant from its bland interior. Other than a few film noir posters, Bella Anthony’s lacked any decoration that would indicate to the customer that it was authentically Italian.
Service: 6/10-We found the service to be disappointing but not without potential. Bella Anthony’s is less than month old and it has a lot of kinks to work out. To truly thrive, they need to hire a host, additional waiters/waitresses and more chefs. Their only two waitresses treated with us with kindness and respect. Nonetheless, they were overwhelmed by a number of disgruntled customers who failed to understand that they were understaffed. By hiring more employees, Bella Anthony’s will surely cut down the level of dissatisfaction.
Selection and Price: 8/10- Bella Anthony’s menu features a considerable number of items. Customers can choose from a variety of Italian favorites including: Pasta Fagiolli soup, Fried Mozzarella, Chicken Marsala, Lobster Raviolli, Spicy Sicilian Pizza and Espresso & Sambuca. These prices range from $2 to no more than $18. From a glance, Bella Anthony’s seems diverse and affordable.
Taste: 6/10-Our experience with Bella Anthony’s dishes left much to be desired. The pre-course salads and bread did not taste distinctly Italian. One would expect different from “old-world recipes.” Our Shrimp Scampi and Chicken Parm tasted either too hot or too cold and lacked spices. We encourage you to try the other dishes to make a more informed decision. As with all restaurants, some dishes will taste better than others. This depends on the quality of the ingredients and the chef’s experience with creating the dish.
In a nutshell: 25/40-For now, Bella Anthony’s scores a D. We understand that Bella Anthony’s is a new restaurant, and we still see potential, but to compete with the other restaurants on the Silas Deane, they need to make some fundamental changes. We will revisit this eatery in the coming year to measure the improvement, or lack thereof.