Restaurants


The Zaragoza Experience

Published: May 11, 2018 at 12:00 am

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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, for which all his father was the builder. "I could never have done it without the love and support of my parents," Mr Praino said.


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 was inspired by the town's own large mural that was painted on an older building by Spanish artist Skount.


Zaragoza seats 100 people throughout its dining room, bar, and outside patio, the latter 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.


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.


Zaragoza features DJ Trivia every Monday night; drink and taco specials on Taco Tuesday; half priced bottled wine every Wednesday night; DJs, dancing, and drink specials at Z After Dark on Saturday night; and $15 bottomless mimosas and Bloody Marys at Sunday Brunch.


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.


Pasta: A standout dish at Zaragoza is its homemade lobster ravioli for $12. It is tossed in a pink lobster cream 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 is drizzled with a balsamic vinaigrette.


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 homemade Oreo bread pudding. It even comes with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side.


Drinks: There are 13 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.


Zaragoza, 31 Bank Street in New Milford, is open seven days a week: Monday through Thursday, 4 to 11 pm; Friday and Saturday, 11:30 am to 12 am; 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. Zaragoza does not do catering at this time. For more information, visit its official website, zaragozarestaurant.com, or the Facebook page, facebook.com/zaragozatapas.


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This Week's Poll

Newtown Cultural Arts Commission is presenting or coordinating on six weeks of special events. Which event are you looking forward to the most? (Visit our Features page for a full story with details about all of these events.)

“In The Bag” exhibition, on view to September 28
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The Lords of 52nd Street concert, September 14
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Newtown Arts Festival weekend, September 15-16
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“An Evening of the Arts,” September 15
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“The Fox on the Fairway” production by Town Players of Newtown, weekends September 21-October 13
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“The Main Street Replica Project,” launching September 25
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Someday Cinema Series screenings of “The Blues Brothers,” September 30
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Photography display “In Our Rearview Mirror” by Marleen Cafarelli, et al, October 1-30
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The 3rd Annual Newtown-Sandy Hook Restaurant Week, October 8-14
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Basket weaving workshop with Tina Puckett, October 13
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“Courageous Conversations in A Complex World,” October 17
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Live at ETH: David Wax Museum concert, October 19
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The 2nd Annual Fall Carnival at Fairfield Hills, October 19-21
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Connecticut Author’s Reading Series, October 21
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Natalie’s Open Mic, October 21
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“The Wordsmiths,” October 24
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Pianist Konstanza Chernov, October 28
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Someday Cinema Series double feature screenings of “Bride of Frankenstein” and “The Beast with Five Fingers,” October 29
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Total votes: 2