Torrington, Connecticut, named after a small market town in the north of Devon, England, is a small municipality and the only city located in Litchfield County. Full of history and culture, this charming New England town is bursting with amazing restaurants and dining options for anyone who has the pleasure of going there.
Vientiane Thai Cuisine
Torrington Commons, 231 High St, Torrington, CT
This small Thai restaurant is named after the capital city of Laos, which sits on the Mekong River and borders Thailand. The history of this city dates back to the 6th century, and as a result of this, has had many different influences on their culture and cuisine. The origins of Laotian cuisine have been shaped strongly through trade with European and South American countries, particularly Colombia and Portugal. Throughout this time of extensive trading with these countries, Laos was introduced to many non-native crops that they eventually ended up accepting and cultivating on their own. These crops have since become major staples of the food they eat today and include papaya, pineapple, and chili peppers, which you will see is used in many of their dishes.
Vientiane Thai Cuisine captures the essence of the Laotian and Thai food culture on their menu by combining popular and traditional Laotian dishes with an equally strong Thai influence. The restaurant uses only fresh ingredients and prepares each dish with care to ensure that their customers are able to experience the most authentic version of their culture’s delicious food. The menu has a wide variety of dishes to choose from and range from familiar favorites, such as chicken satay, pad Thai, and fried rice, to truly authentic dishes that you won’t be able to find at other restaurants.
The som tum salad, also called the green papaya salad, is one of their most authentic dishes and is extremely popular in Laos and Thailand. This salad consists of shredded green papaya, chili peppers, tomatoes, and crushed peanuts, providing a sweet, savoury, and spicy flavor.
If you aren’t a salad person, then be sure to try one of their soups. The tom kar soup is a local favorite and is prepared with coconut milk, chicken, mushrooms, and ginger, and includes your choice of shrimp, chicken, or seafood.
If you are looking for a spin on a traditional dish, the wonton pad Thai is a must-try. This tasty dish is prepared with chicken-stuffed fried wontons that are sauteed with all the traditional pad Thai fixings--rice noodles, peanuts, egg, tofu, and green onions.
Sawyer’s Bar and Grill
79 Center Street, Torrington, CT
On any good list of top restaurants, there always needs to be a local bar and grill! Sawyer’s Bar and Grill is a neighborhood favorite because of the great food and service, as well as the relaxed vibe and bright and airy interior. Locals love coming here to enjoy warm summer nights with a cold beer or cocktail and a bite to eat.
This restaurant checks all the right boxes for your typical neighborhood pub, with cold draught beer being poured all night, the latest sports game airing on one of the flatscreen TVs, and attentive staff that seem to know everybody’s name.
The top-selling item on their menu is the beer-battered fish and chips, which includes 2 pieces of hand-battered halibut, crinkle-cut fries, and a side of greens, as well as tartar sauce. Other popular items include standard pub grub such as fresh, made-to-order nachos, chicken wings with a variety of mouth-watering sauces to choose from, and hand-crafted burgers served with their famous truffle fries on the side.
Next time you’re in the area, make sure to stop by and check out this hidden gem. You won’t regret it!
YiaYia’s Greek Kitchen
1057 East Main Street, Torrington, CT
The origins of this restaurant started when the owners, Yanni and Kaitlyn Gogo, decided that after many years of working in the food service industry, it was time to start a restaurant of their own. During the process of deciding on which kind of restaurant to open and where to open it, their YiaYia (which is the Greek word for “grandma”) fell ill. Fortunately, YiaYia made a full recovery and although Yanni and Kaitlyn’s plans of moving to New York to start a restaurant fell through, connecting with their YiaYia inspired this couple to introduce an authentic Greek restaurant to the community of Torrington.
Using YiaYia’s most famous recipes, they have created a small menu that has since landed them the recognition of having the “Best Greek Restaurant in Litchfield County” awarded by Reader’s Choice magazine.
If you’ve ever wanted to travel to Greece, but haven’t been able to yet, this restaurant is the next best thing. Upon walking into YiaYia’s, you will be transported into Santorini as you take in the sparkling white walls with splashes of ocean blue and the rustic stone floor.
On the menu, you will find traditional and authentic Greek dishes that only use fresh ingredients and are prepared daily. There are a variety of dishes on the menu suitable for many dietary restrictions that are clearly marked on the menu, including gluten-free and vegetarian/vegan options.
One of the more exciting dishes is something called kasseri saganaki. The kasseri cheese is the star of the show here and has a unique mild, buttery, and slightly sweet flavor that you will find yourself craving more of when it’s inevitably devoured. What makes this dish exciting is the fact that the cheese is soaked in white wine and set on fire to create a deliciously crunchy, caramelized exterior and a soft and melted interior.
Other popular dishes include the traditional dolmades (grape leaves stuffed with seasoned rice), the souvlaki (grilled skewers served in a warm pita), and the spanakopita (spinach and feta wrapped in flaky phyllo pastry). No matter what you choose to order, you will be delighted at the fresh ingredients and authentic flavors offered at YiaYia’s Greek Kitchen.
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52 East Main Street, Torrington, CT
The Venetian Restaurant is well-known and beloved by the locals of Torrington, CT, and got its start almost 100 years ago, in the 1920s. In 1973, the current owner, Michael DiLullo, took over ownership from its previous owners and he has ensured that the quality and authenticity of this Italian restaurant has been held up to the highest of standards.
Upon entering The Venetian Restaurant, it is immediately evident that you have set foot in a unique restaurant. The hand-painted murals of Venice glow on the walls of the intimate dining room, and lush plants and flowers in exquisite vases are placed all around the restaurant.
The menu is small but is packed with so many spectacular dishes that it will be hard to choose just one thing to order. In the spirit of Italian culture, the portion sizes are very large to ensure that nobody ever goes home hungry. Everything offered on their menu is reasonably priced and made fresh to order, and there are a few options available for vegetarians as well.
The Caesar salad is prepared tableside and is made with fresh, homemade Caesar dressing, so you can be sure you’ll be getting the freshest Caesar salad you’ve ever had. A favorite dish of regulars at this restaurant is the linguine carbonara, which is prepared with peas, pancetta, and onions in a luxurious creamy sauce and served with your choice of a house salad or the soup of the day. Make sure to save some room for one of their fabulous Italian desserts, like the tiramisu cake paired with a fresh, steaming hot cup of espresso or a cappuccino.
Whether you’re Italian or just love Italian food, The Venetian Restaurant will deliver a taste of Italy that will please all of your senses.
Fuji Japanese and Hibachi Steak Restaurant
1883 East Main Street, Torrington, CT
If you have never had the pleasure of experiencing hibachi-style dining, then you are in for a treat! The Fuji Japanese and Hibachi Steak Restaurant offer their customers a spectacular dining experience that is sure to delight you and have you coming back for more.
The word hibachi means “fire bowl” and involves the chef grilling the food that you have ordered right in front of you in a display of showmanship that can only be found at hibachi restaurants. The grills are set up so that customers sit around it in a circle and have a full view of the chef that is cooking their food. Typically, customers will order a dish that involves meat, rice or noodles, vegetables, and sometimes egg. Because the chef has an audience, he or she will perform tricks such as flipping cooking tools in the air, throwing food around in a skilled and controlled manner, and will even have the audience participate by having them try to catch a shrimp in their mouths!
This restaurant offers both the hibachi dining experience as well as more private settings where customers can order off the menu. If you are looking to order off the menu, you will find a wide selection of sushi and sashimi, as well as more common Asian dishes, like General Tso’s chicken, teriyaki steak, pad Thai, and assorted tempura-coated items.
If you live in Torrington, are planning to move here, or are just stopping by for a visit, you will not want to miss out on these great restaurants. Whichever restaurant you decide to dine at, whether it be one, two, or all five, make sure to bring your appetite and prepare to be amazed!