January’s 2018 Restaurant Feature is [chow] Food and Beverage Co.

Back in December, we asked what your favorite shoreline restaurants are. We are starting off our 2018 Restaurant Feature with [chow] Food and Beverage Co. in Clinton, Connecticut.

Walking in to [chow], our first impression was the cozy, rustic feel of the restaurant. All staff were working together, with Jeff Mastroianni and Brad Cunningham doing everything from cooking, making drinks, greeting customers, and answering phones.

In between all of this, they took the time to talk with us during the middle of a lunch rush (the restaurant was full for the entire two and a half hours we spent there!). Our entire experience was enjoyable: from the friendly service, to the house made cocktail list, the tasty appetizers (we had Maple Sriracha Wings and Burnt End Croute), and the thin crust pizza, we can see why so many of you voted for [chow].

ALL IN HOUSE

Jeff Mastroianni and Brad Cunningham began their restaurant journey in 2013 with The Meat Hut, a popular seasonal barbeque stand in Clinton. When a year-round BBQ restaurant opened up across the street, they knew it was time to find a permanent home for their food. [chow] Food and Beverage Co. opened up shortly after, and has been growing ever since.

They kept their smoker from The Meat Hut, and use it to smoke everything right on site. In addition to smoking their own meat for BBQ, they smoke cheeses and turkey for sandwiches. [chow] grinds their own meat and even makes their own sauces for chicken wings.

In house work doesn’t stop with food. Mastroianni and Cunningham found the space they wanted on Route 81 in Clinton. “We did everything except electrical work ourselves,” said Mastroianni. From the hand-crafted bar, to the interior design by Mastroianni’s wife, the logo and website, the families worked for about six months to get the restaurant how they wanted.

NOT JUST BBQ

[chow] features American cuisine, along with their famous BBQ. The restaurant was previously a pizza place, “so we kept the pizza oven and Brad learned how to make pizza,” said Mastroianni. Two of their most popular pizzas are The WTF (Wow! That’s Fantastic) with mozzarella, cheddar, mac & cheese, bacon, pulled pork, and pineapple chipotle BBQ sauce, and the Figgy Stardust, made with house made fig spread, house smoked gouda, shallots, prosciutto, and gorgonzola dolce (we had this one – it was delicious!). The restaurant changes its specials each week, so there is always something new to try.

COMMUNITY TIES

[chow] enjoys working with the local community whenever possible. They keep only Connecticut beers on draft, and Mastroianni is a member of Clinton’s Chamber of Commerce. In the summer, [chow] donates food to Families Helping Families, a program that provides lunch for children and families during summer months.

OVERCOMING CHALLENGES

Owning a restaurant comes with challenges. Mastroianni said one of most challenging parts of running [chow] is the smoker. Smoking meat takes hours, so they need to be sure they have enough for their growing demands. Plus, the smoker is outside, which makes it tricky when transporting meat and cheese in inclement weather.

Getting the word out about a new restaurant has also been a challenge. “We’ve done it through word of mouth,” Cunningham said. “We take the time to talk to people and let them know what we do here.”

It seems like word of mouth has done the trick, with [chow] earning Top 3 in eight categories of Connecticut Magazine’s: Best of Reader’s Poll, and wait times that can be over an hour. “It used to be a hidden gem,” a regular recently told Cunningham. “It’s not so hidden anymore.”

For more information, visit [chow]’s website. To inquire about catering or [chow] Barbeque food truck, contact cateringbychow@gmail.com

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