Friday, August 22, 2008

Eating My Neighborhood: Partner's Cafe and Pizzeria

It is hard to believe that it has been almost a whole year since I moved from Cambridge, MA to East Norwalk, CT. It is even harder to believe that it has been almost a year since I last featured a neighborhood eatery on the pages of The Sour Dough.

Even harder to believe is that in that year, it took me until this past May to make it to the very first restaurant I noticed when I moved to the neighborhood, Partner's Cafe and Pizzeria.

Partner's Cafe in East Norwalk

From the very first time I walked into this cozy neighborhood spot, I felt like I was coming home because regardless of whether it is your first time there or you are a regular, the Spinola's and their friendly staff greet you like family or a long lost cousin with a huge hello. This is definitely a neighborhood type of place where, just like Cheers everyone knows your name.

Even better, it is exactly three blocks from where I live so I can walk down anytime I feel the urge for a beer and wings or a nice salad. In fact, I haven't felt this at home since I was living in Clinton, Ma and called The Old Timer home, so that is saying quite a lot!

Partner's has two sides: the bar side that has an oak colored bar with a few tables for dining and the restaurant side that is small but can easily accommodate a good sized party. The bar is well stocked with all the standard beers including the one that is a requirement for me to even begin to consider it as my "local", Bass Ale and they have all the fixings for just about any cocktail you can think of. You can get the same menu on both sides; which I find great for dining alone with a book or newspaper.

The menu is diverse ranging from the typical bar fare to the full dinner of steak. The leaning is towards the Italian end of the spectrum as is fitting but if you want something a little different, don't hesitate to ask. Chances are they are able to adjust any dish to your liking. On one evening when Erica, Chris, Erica's sister who was visiting and I went down for dinner, Erica's sister asked for just steamed veggies and some rice and they were more than happy to fix her exactly what she wanted! Try to do that in NYC or for that matter in some other little neighborhood joints.

Partner's is known in the area for their thin crust pizza and as someone who prefers super crispy thin crust, I can tell you I haven't had this good of thin crust since I was in Italy. It stays crisp no matter what you put on top and that is the sign of a good recipe for crust. My personal favorite pizza is a sausage, mushroom and onion light on the sauce. It is even listed as my craving of the moment on my Foodbuzz profile because this pizza is so good all I have to do is think about it and I'm ready to run down three blocks and order up on. It is that good.

They have a few happy hour specials that run during the week including Wine and Wings on Wednesdays where you can get a glass of wine for $5 and an order of wings for 10 for .20 with a limit of 2 orders. You can normally find Chris, Erica and I there on Wednesdays partaking of some of the best wings I've had outside of Buffalo regardless of how hot or mild you like them.

Partner's In East Norwalk's Buffalo Wings

And speaking of specials, let me tell you about a special dessert that they don't have on the menu but if Ernie is working you can get, the Freta Sundae.

Ernie and his Freta Sundae

This delicious, no strike that, this decadent dessert is Ernie's invention and consists of a disc of fried dough covered in chocolate sauce, powdered sugar and whipped topping and served with a bowl of Hood vanilla ice cream.

A Freta Sundae at Partners

It is like eating a gigantic flat donut covered in two of the best things known to man, chocolate and ice cream. I could just eat this for dinner but trust me, it is more fun to share with a friend. You tear off a piece of dough and put a dollop of ice cream on it and eat it. It is slightly messy but oh so good!

Ernie is hoping to have it on the menu full time soon and I hope it makes it to the menu because I can't imagine a trip to Partner's without ending a good meal with one of these.

Partner's is located on the corner of Cove and 1st Street in East Norwalk. They are open seven days a week at 11:30am, serving food until 10pm and pizza until 11pm. The bar is open later and you can get take away. Prices are reasonable and service is excellent.