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Darien Social readies for first customers

Richard Lee, dariennewsonline
Published 10:06 am, Wednesday, February 1, 2012
  • Nick Bilello, executive chef at Darien Social, appears in the new restaurant and bar, set to open Feb. 1. Bilello, of Burger Bar fame in South Norwalk, has planned a menu including local oysters  with sherry onions and crispy shallots; pork belly "BLT sliders" with tomato aioli and arugula; and Swedish meatballs served with sweet jam, toast, and foie gravy. Photo: Contributed Photo / Stamford Advocate Contributed
    Nick Bilello, executive chef at Darien Social, appears in the new restaurant and bar, set to open Feb. 1. Bilello, of Burger Bar fame in South Norwalk, has planned a menu including local oysters with sherry onions and crispy shallots; pork belly "BLT sliders" with tomato aioli and arugula; and Swedish meatballs served with sweet jam, toast, and foie gravy. Photo: Contributed Photo

 

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Darien Social Hours: Sunday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. (pizza served until 11 p.m.); Fridays and Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. (pizza until midnight.) Telephone: 203-614-8183
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It isn't taking long for operators of Darien Social, a new restaurant, to become a part of the town's social scene.

Scheduled to open Wednesday, the gastropub at 10 Center St. will be one of 12 establishments participating in the Darien Chamber of Commerce's Restaurant Week, Feb. 5 to 10.

"We're very confident that when we open the doors people will like what they see," said general manager Baird Van Beever, who has more than 20 years of hospitality industry experience, most recently as GM of Red Lulu in South Norwalk. "We're an American-style gastropub with a very high focus on quality of the food."

The executive chef is Nick Bilello, who owned Tenero, an Italian Trattoria, in South Norwalk, and later Burger Bar & Bistro, at the same location.

Assistant general manager is Christian Orlando, former tapas chef at Pepin in St. Petersburg, Fla., and sommelier at Mario Batali and Joe Bastianch's Otto in New York.

Beverage director Mike Boughton, who entered the beverage profession in 1999 at the Southport Brewing Co., is a certified sommelier and has assembled a selection of 31 draught beers.

"We're an approachable gastropub," Bilello said. "I developed the menu so you can come once a month and not be bored with the food. It's a social style of eating."

The restaurant, with its 120-seat dining room and outdoor deck, is in the space once occupied by the Crystal Gardens Floral Shop at Post and Tokeneke roads.

Framed by exposed brick and wood paneled walls, the restaurant has dark wood furnishings, leather banquette seating and a white granite top bar. Wood floors are made from recycled oak planks.

The restaurant will have about 40 employees.

Carol Wilder-Tamme, president and CEO of the Darien Chamber, welcomed Darien Social and participated in a Saturday ribbon cutting.

"Crystal Gardens has been gone for at least four years. This will make things a lot nicer," she said, adding she expects it to attract more shoppers to the district. "I have a lot of confidence that this will take off and keep rolling."