New restaurants: Tacos, oysters, and a ‘speakeasy’— look what’s coming to town

Burritos, clams, saltimbocca, and pizza — yes, more pizza.

It will all be on new menus for residents, and visitors, to try soon.

Over the next couple of months, the number of new restaurants in Ridgefield is set to grow by four — if not more.

Some of the operations will be led by familiar faces; others will be brand new to the dining scene.

The owners of Prime Burger are opening up Prime Taco this summer — rumored to be at the current Peachwave location on Danbury Road, while the owners of The Village Tavern have confirmed they’re setting up a Roman-style restaurant with a “speakeasy” vibe called Romolo that will open underneath Interiors & Designs by Ursula — behind Main Street.

Away from the village, New York resident Arber Muriqi is set to open The Barn Door on Ethan Allen Highway — in the former La Piazza location. The Barn Door, which will host its soft opening this weekend, will be offering a variety of food, ranging from oysters to pizza to burgers to kebabs.

It won’t be the only new business with pizza on the menu.

A sign in Copps Hill Commons that was hung up last week in front of the former Mima’s Meatballs location indicated that Newtown-based Lions Bleecker Pizza will be making a trip south to Ridgefield this spring to open up a new storefront.

“Ridgefielders like to eat out, all these restaurants that are opening are moderately priced,” said Arnold Light, president of the town’s Economic Development Commission (EDC).

“And they’re great for families,” he added.

Once upon a time …

Three of the incoming establishments are filling vacancies left behind by former restaurants.

“The Barn [Door] on Branchville has always been a restaurant,” said EDC member John Devine.

“From an economic standpoint, we’re very happy that that property has been filled — some people don’t even realize Branchville is part of Ridgefield. …

“Branchville is our next opportunity for gentrification and development,” he said.

‘Tapped out’ on Main

Yet two former Main Street restaurant spaces remain empty — 50 Coins and Tom Tom’s.

Selectman Steve Zemo, landlord and developer of Copps Hill Commons, speculated it could be because downtown is “tapped out” on restaurants. He also said that convenient parking at Copps Hill is attractive to many prospective restaurateurs.

“It is disappointing that two prominent empty storefronts sit on Main Street,” Zemo said. “It might be the way the market works — it might be time for some of them to revert to general retail, relative to parking and the demand for wanting to be there.”

Meanwhile, Copps Hill has become a “mecca for foodies,” according to Light.

“You’ve got the wine and cheese spread, all these little boutique restaurants, a natural food place,” he told The Press.

“You have all these restaurants that are central to Copps Hill — it just kind of makes sense.”

“Ridgefield is so compact,” he said. “I don’t think it’s that big a deal to necessarily have a restaurant on Main Street.”

What else is coming?

According to Devine, the Amatuzzi family — landlord of the building that housed Tom Tom’s — is closing in on a new lease.

He doesn’t know what kind of business it will be, but unlike the 50 Coins property, this one has the potential to be something else besides a restaurant.

“When Tom Tom’s went out of business, all the equipment was moved out,” Devine said. “The Amatuzzis don’t need to put a restaurant there.

“At 50 Coins, the entire kitchen is still built out with the equipment — it would be kind of illogical for someone to not make it into a restaurant.”

Zemo said the empty storefronts on Main Street probably shouldn’t be eateries.

“I’m thinking those spots would be better served as general retail. There’s a couple of little stores but there aren’t any bigger stores,” he said.