The Zaragoza Experience
Make plans to take a trip to the picturesque city of Zaragoza, Spain, all without a passport or luggage. Set within walking distance of the New Milford town green is Zaragoza restaurant, a destination that offers guests a dining experience to remember.
Owner Artie Praino, former owner of the Newtown Deli and Sandy Hook Deli, opened the doors to Zaragoza in April 2016 with his business partner and longtime friend William Hart, Jr. Both men knew going into their new business that they wanted to feature exceptional food and drinks along with a fun, relaxing environment.
Zaragoza is Mr Praino’s sixth business. Reflecting on his father's building contributions for the businesses, he said, “I could never have done it without the love and support of my parents."
The restaurant welcomes guests with warm, dim lighting from crystal chandeliers and candles that are set on every table, perfect for a romantic outing with a loved one or a laid-back get-together with friends. There are hardwood floors and richly colored, dark redwood beams on the ceiling that add to the sophisticated ambiance.
The walls showcase the building’s past with exposed bricks while also welcoming modern luxuries like flat screen TVs. Colorful canvas artwork painted by Newtown artist Alison Cummings decorate the walls. The images are a tribute to Zaragoza, Spain and were inspired by the town’s own large mural, which was painted on an older building by Spanish artist Skount.
Zaragoza seats 100 people throughout its dining room, bar, and outside patio, the latter of which is open during the warmer seasons. The dining area’s booth seats are pleated like waves, reminiscent of the lines in the canvas artwork, indicative of the detail put into every aspect of the Zaragoza design and experience. The restaurant is available for private parties Monday through Thursday, from noon to 4 pm.
Executive Chef Rupert Cardenas and the handpicked staff create food that looks as great as it tastes. There are a variety of traditional Spanish tapas as well as tapas with a modern flair.
Zaragoza’s also has an extensive list of cocktails that are custom-made by the restaurant’s mixologist-bartender. Happy Hour specials run Monday through Friday, from 4 to 6 pm, and include $3 off cocktails, $2 off wine and beer, and $6 selected tapas.
Be sure to check out DJ Trivia every Monday night, drink and taco specials on Taco Tuesday, half-priced bottled wine every Wednesday night, and $15 bottomless mimosas and Bloody Marys at Sunday Brunch.
In Connecticut Magazine’s “Best Restaurants 2019: Reader’s Choice,” Zaragoza was awarded the Best Latin American, Best Spanish, Best Bistro, and Best Late-Night Restaurant for Litchfield County; statewide runner-up for Best Bartender with Christine Marie Short; and statewide runner-up for Best Cocktails.
A Sample Of The Menu
Traditional Tapas: Zaragoza offers a variety of appetizers, including octopus, for $14. The octopus is braised, then seared, and served over a white bean and fennel salad. It is drizzled with cold pressed olive oil, sea salt, and preserved lemon.
Modern Tapas: For the contemporary small plates, guests can choose from three diverse categories: land, sea, and earth. Popular dishes in order of their respective lists include the slow-cooked short ribs served over a bed of pappardelle and topped with a port wine reduction; sweet and spicy watermelon calamari that is fried and sautéed with fresh watermelon; and artichoke stuffed with mascarpone cheese and wrapped in prosciutto, served over an orange sauce.
Garden: The chopped salad is a customer favorite at Zaragoza. It consists of mixed greens with grilled endive, goat cheese, candied almonds, fresh pears, and it is drizzled with a balsamic vinaigrette.
Pasta: A standout dish at Zaragoza is its pappardelle with homemade ribbon pasta for $20. It is tossed in a mushroom-sherry cream sauce and topped with wilted arugula and toasted pine nuts.
Entrees: The curry chicken & vegetable rice bowl is one of ten dinner entrees available. It is made of grilled chicken, sticky rice, and roasted vegetables tossed in the restaurant’s curry coconut milk sauce and topped with scallions.
Snacks: Among the different sides is fried goat cheese with honey for $8.
Kids Menu: There are all the classic meals that children love but done to Zaragoza’s impeccable standards. Macaroni and cheese is just $6 and is made with orecchiette pasta that is tossed with housemade cheese sauce.
Dessert: One of the top selling desserts is its homemade Oreo bread pudding. It even comes with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side.
Drinks: There are more than a dozen handcrafted cocktail options listed on the drink menu. The Cucumber Martini is prepared with certified organic Prairie Cucumber Vodka, fresh cucumber and cilantro, lemon and lime juice, a splash of simple syrup, and is adorned with a salt and peppered rim. Zaragoza also has a variety of local craft beers and small batch spirits.
Catering: Zaragoza offers a full to-go catering menu. See website for more details.
Zaragoza, 31 Bank Street in New Milford, is open seven days a week: Monday through Thursday, 4 to 10 pm; Friday and Saturday, 11:30 am to midnight; Sunday Brunch, 11 am to 3 pm; and Sunday dinner, 4:30 to 8 pm. Takeout and seating reservations are accepted by calling 860-350-0701. For more information, visit its official website, zaragozarestaurant.com, or facebook.com/zaragozatapas.