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The Zaragoza Experience

Published: September 8, 2017

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 and Newtown resident Artie Praino 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.

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 rich, 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 that play Top 40 artists’ music videos. 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 even 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 now features live music every Tuesday and Thursday, Sunday Brunch, and Taco Tuesday with drink and taco specials.

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 the official website, zaragozarestaurant.com, or the Facebook page, facebook.com/zaragozatapas.

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