Newtown, Connecticut
For travel foodies Jane and Michael Stern, some of their best finds have been in the couple's own Connecticut backyard

From the April 22, 2002 Issue of New York

"Connecticut is one of the great states for road food," says Michael Stern, co-author with his wife, Jane, of Roadfood, an updated version of their classic 1977 guide to greasy spoons. According to the Sterns, who live just down the road, the unassuming hamlet of Newtown, perched 75 miles north of New York City, is the epicenter of Connecticut's heartburn hot zone. "The thing about Newtown," Stern says, "is that it's a crossroads town connecting I-84" -- which runs east-west from the Hudson Valley to the Connecticut breadbasket -- "and Route 25," the main artery of hot dogs and Italian food leading up from the coast.

Stern can't say enough about the Botsford Drive-In. "It's got just a terrific hot dog! And Carminuccio's looks like a million-and-one Italian places, but when you walk in and the place smells of bread and you watch a guy cut up a tomato for the pizza, you just know!"

Hot dogs and manicotti aren't your idea of Connecticut cuisine? "The other category New England is especially blessed with is the hash house, with a counter and a few tables around an open kitchen," Stern says as he launches into a paean to the Laurel Diner's meaty homemade corned-beef hash.

"Two other things that are wonderfully Connecticut," the nearly out-of-breath gourmand says, and they're both at Phillips Diner in nearby Woodbury. "Chicken pie, a farm-wife specialty. It's a sort of chicken hash piled into a pie crust and served with a pitcher of gravy." That's one. What's the other? "Every morning, Bud Phillips, this seventysomething marine, gets there early and makes cake doughnuts."

Botsford Drive-In (282 South Main Street [Route 25], Newtown; 203-426-4279); Carminuccio's (76 South Main Street, Newtown; 203-364-1133); Laurel Diner (544 Main Street, Southbury; 203-264-8218); Phillips Diner (740 Main Street South, Woodbury; 203-263-2516). For more, see


Photograph: Kenneth Chen; Map by John Markic, Illustrations by Heather Jones.