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A newcomer's first Darien Restaurant Week

Joe Criscuolo, owner and chef at the new Meatball & Co., is hoping that participating in Darien Restaurant Week will lure restaurant-goers off the well-traveled Boston Post Road and down to his restaurant on Center Street to experience the Italian comfort food he has to offer.

It's Criscuolo's first restaurant week with Meatball & Co., 20 Center St.

"We're looking to get a little more exposure and to let people in Darien and in the area know what we're all about," Criscuolo said. "I think there's this impression that we're Meatball & Co. and we just have meatballs, but there's more than that."

Darien Restaurant Week kicks off Sunday, Feb. 2, and will run through Thursday, Feb. 6, and will feature 14 restaurants.

The other restaurants are Anthony's Coal Fired Pizza, Bodega Taco Bar, Cesco's Trattoria, Chuck's Steakhouse, Coromandel, Darien Social, Estia's American, The Goose, Jimmy's Southside Tavern, The Melting Pot, Rory's Restaurant, Scena Wine Bar and Restaurant and Tengda.

"This is great way of keeping our town active and supporting our businesses during the cold days of winter," Darien Chamber of Commerce President Carol Wilder-Tamme said. "This is a fun way for locals and surrounding towns to experience dining and shopping in Darien."

Mid-range lunches and dinners will cost $12.14 and $18.14, respectively, and high-end lunches and dinners will be $20.14 and $30.14, respectively, according to the Darien Chamber of Commerce.

Meatball & Co. will offer a lunch that includes a bowl of four meatballs, a side and a cookie. For dinner, customers can get a sampler of meatballs with a side and an ice cream sandwich.

Criscuolo has combined his family's heritage of great Italian comfort food from the Bronx, N.Y., with his own expertise as a Culinary Institute of America graduate and big-city chef.

The menu is designed to give customers a fun choice to create their own meal. Five kinds of meatballs are available -- beef, chicken, spicy pork, eggplant and a rotating daily special -- along with six sauce choices, including "cheesy goodness," pesto and mushroom gravy.

However, not being located on the Post Road has been a challenge for Criscuolo.

"We're definitely off the beaten path," he said, but produced a green leather journal with "The Meatball Diary Written By You" handwritten on the cover. Inside were pages and pages of positive comments that customers had written about their time at the Italian restaurant.

Criscuolo said he's also in the process of updating the permanent menu and adding customer favorites to the rotation. Some of those favorites include a chicken and waffle meatball -- complete with maple syrup -- and an eggplant waffle.

"You'll get a couple things," Criscuolo said of the restaurant's menu during Darien Restaurant Week. "A nice little selection and hopefully everyone will like it and bring some attention to MB and C." Read Full Article 

mspicer@bcnnew.com; 203-330-6583; @Meg_DarienNews

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