An insider's view of the Connecticut dining scene
Sep 3, 2013
08:23 AM
The Connecticut Table

Tomato Festival at Alforno Restaurant in Old Saybrook

Tomato Festival at Alforno Restaurant in Old Saybrook

It ain’t over till it’s over—summer, that is. And what better way to prolong the season than gorging on the local tomatoes finally in season? A good place to indulge is the annual Tomato Festival now in full swing at Alforno Restaurant in Old Saybrook.

This is a veritable feast for tomato lovers, with classic dishes each day highlighting the succulent heirlooms grown at New Mercies Farm in Lyme. In addition to pastas, pizza margherita and a standout bruschetta made with these lovelies, there’s rustic Panzanella Florentine, made with tomato, cucumber, red onion and croutons of the restaurant’s excellent housemade bread; Burrata Salad (creamy mozzarella, chunks of tomato, olive oil and basil); and insalata Caprese (sliced mozzarella and tomato with basil chiffonade).

New Mercies Farm is an interesting story in itself. In 2011 when a pre Revolutionary home on the property was destroyed by fire, Dr. Rodney and Deborah Hornbake of Hadlyme stepped in to save the day. The couple purchased the five-acre property with the express purpose of restoring it to its agricultural past. Michael Melillo of North Haven, who came on as the primary steward, now grows 48 varieties of organic vegetables plus fruits and herbs—including 14 types of heirloom tomato.

By the way, even if you’re immune to fresh-tomato fever, a stop at Alforno is always in order, either for the menu of pastas, chicken and veal dishes The New York Times gave three stars or the sublime pizza, dubbed “exceptional” by Jacques Pépin.

If we’re lucky, the festival will go on right into October, as long as the fresh local tomatoes hold out. So join in the celebration!

Alforno Restaurant, 1654 Boston Post Rd., Old Saybrook, 860/399-4166, alforno.net. While you're in Old Saybrook, be sure to connect with other award-winning dining and lifestyle amenities by consulting our Best of Connecticut 2013.

Tomato Festival at Alforno Restaurant in Old Saybrook

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