12 Best Restaurants in Waterbury, Connecticut

Last Updated on February 27, 2024 by Emily Johnson

Waterbury, Connecticut is home to a thriving food scene with restaurants that showcase locally-sourced ingredients. From delicious pizza places to fine dining establishments serving contemporary American cuisine, there is something for every palate. The wide diversity in Waterbury’s population has also led to various ethnic restaurants that provide a taste of different cultures.

In this article, we have compiled a list of the 12 best restaurants that Waterbury has to offer along with what makes them stand out. Whether you’re a local looking to try somewhere new or a visitor interested in experiencing Waterbury’s food culture, you’ll discover some excellent dining options perfect for any occasion.

Roma Ristorante – Best Italian Restaurant

A Waterbury favorite for over 30 years, Roma Ristorante transports you to Italy with its classic Italian dishes made from old family recipes. Owned by third-generation Italian Americans, this restaurant prides itself in handcrafted meals that burst with authentic flavors.

Their chicken parmesan is breaded to crisp perfection and layered with their rich house marinara sauce and melted mozzarella. Meanwhile, their seafood linguine sees plump shrimp and tender calamari rings tossed with garlic, white wine and herbs over al dente pasta. If you want a taste of real Italian cooking done exceptionally well, Roma Ristorante deserves your visit.

Portofinos – Most Romantic Restaurant

With its warm lighting, white tablecloths and fresh flowers on each table, Portofinos offers an intimate ambience perfect for romantic dinners. Their contemporary Italian menu features dishes like grilled salmon topped with bruschetta over sauteed spinach and scallops wrapped in applewood smoked bacon. Food presentation is always impeccable, with each plate looking like a work of art.

Make reservations for their coveted fireside tables that provide additional privacy with magical views overlooking their terrace. Let their sommelier guide you through their extensive wine list to find the perfect pairing for a wonderful evening out. For an indulgent date night, Portofinos sets just the right mood.

The Palace Theater Poli Club – Best Fine Dining Restaurant

Housed within the historic Palace Theater, the Poli Club provides a uniquely sophisticated setting for elevated contemporary American cuisine. With stained glass windows, high ceilings and classic leather furnishings, the ambience mirrors the refined dishes conceived under the direction of their talented Executive Chef.

Start your meal with their duck leg confit salad with mixed baby greens, poached apples and a bold raspberry vinaigrette. For the main course, the grilled filet mignon covered with gorgonzola béchamel sauce over butternut squash risotto is a popular option. And who can pass up their creme brûlée trio for dessert featuring classic vanilla bean, chocolate hazelnut and lemon curd flavors. Alongside Waterbury’s premier live entertainment venue, the Poli Club offers first-class handcrafted meals and exceptional service.

Baingan – Best Indian Restaurant

For authentic Indian cuisine bursting with complex flavors, look no further than Baingan. Their diverse menu highlights an array of regional dishes reflecting India’s culinary diversity to satisfy both vegetarians and meat lovers alike.

Try their popular lamb vindaloo with tender lamb pieces swimming in a tangy gravy packed with spices like cinnamon, cardamom and cayenne pepper. Alternatively, the baingan bharta made from mashed roasted eggplant offers a tasty meatless option. Ideal for large groups, make sure to also order the vegetable biryani, a fragrant rice dish loaded with beans, carrots, peas and more. Whether dining in their elegant interior or outside patio, one thing’s for sure – Baingan’s flavored-packed fare will instantly transport you to India.

Tacuba Urban Taqueria – Best Mexican Restaurant

Bridging the heart of Mexico with Waterbury is Tacuba Urban Taqueria, preparing vibrant street-style Mexican flavors perfect for a casual meal. Beyond impeccable tacos filled with your choice of carne asada, carnitas or chorizo sausage, their diverse menu has something for everyone.

Start with a refreshing watermelon margarita before sampling some antojitos or appetizers like the stuffed poblano chiles with a melt-in-your-mouth cheese filling. Move onto hearty plates showcasing specialties from across Mexico, whether it’s the Veracruz-style red snapper or Oaxacan chicken mole. And make room for churros drizzled with chocolate and caramel sauce later. Tacuba’s fun and lively atmosphere makes it easy to enjoy an affordable and delicious south-of-the-border style meal.

Zafra Kitchen & Rum Bar – Best Caribbean Fusion Restaurant

Merging Latin and Caribbean flavors is Zafra Kitchen & Rum Bar, preparing creative dishes meant for sharing in a lively social setting. Even their interior pops with saturated teals and coral pinks contrasting exposed brick walls inspired by Old San Juan.

Begin your meal with some arepas, corn cakes stuffed with shredded beef or chicken balanced by cooling cilantro crema. Move onto fusion-style plates like the Cuban chopped steak cooked in a red wine sauce or Dominican style rice with shrimp stewed in a coconut curry broth. And no evening is complete without a flavorful rum-based cocktail, choosing from mojitos, mai tais or even sangria. Zafra’s bold and innovative dishes combined with their exceptional service makes this a worthy dining destination for a fun night out.

Zavala – Best Peruvian Restaurant

Among Waterbury’s diverse culinary landscape is Zavala, an authentic Peruvian restaurant preparing thoughtful dishes honoring centuries of Andean traditions meshed with Spanish, Chinese and Japanese influences. Even Peruvian culture comes alive in their interior dotted with handwoven textiles, terra cotta jugs and exotic wood carvings.

Start off sharing some causas, colorful mashed potato terrines with your choice of savory chicken, tuna or veggie fillings. Continue familystyle with main plates starring Peruvian staples like ají de gallina, a fragrant chicken stew crowned with pecans and queso fresco. Or try their lomo saltado of stir-fried beef with onions and tomatoes over buttered potatoes and rice. From refreshing Inca Kola sodas to tasty chicha morada juice, Zavala provides a fully immersive Peruvian dining adventure perfect for large groups.

Baci Grill – Best Seafood Restaurant

Specializing in fresh seafood and prime steaks just minutes from downtown is Baci Grill, an upscale contemporary restaurant elegantly designed with crystal chandeliers and floor-to-ceiling windows. Their diverse menu excels in seafood highlighting both regional catches from the Atlantic alongside exotic imported varieties.

Start off with jumbo shrimp cocktail or their Fruits de Mer tower layering oysters, lobster claws, mussels and crab over ice. Move onto expertly grilled dishes starring salmon, swordfish or Whole Branzino cooked crisp with Mediterranean herbs. Not feeling fish? Their 16oz dry aged Ribeye and center cut Filet Mignon make fine substitutions. And save room for their standout Chocolate Souffle overflowing with molten dark chocolate as a sweet ending. Baci Grill remains Waterbury’s premier destination for incredible seafood and steaks in a refined yet comfortable setting.

Samy’s La Cocina De Mexico ll – Best Tacos

When seeking mouthwatering tacos in a casual cantina setting, Samy’s La Cocina De Mexico hits all the right notes. This vibrant taqueria prepares fantastic authentic Mexican street food centered around tacos stuffed with your choice of carne asada, chorizo, chicken tinga or carnitas slow-cooked in citrus juice and spices.

The real star is their robust salsa bar featuring tomatillo, mango and Chile de árbol varieties so you can amp up each bite with heat and zing. While specialty tacos remain the focus, they also dish up classic plates like enchiladas doused in tangy mole sauce or chili verde alongside nachos piled high with toppings. And what pairs better than tacos than ice cold cervezas or margaritas? For flavor-packed tacos in a bustling cantina setting, Samy’s delivers big time.

Black Rock Tavern – Best Gastropub

Stylish yet comfortable best describes Black Rock Tavern, a modern gastropub dishing up inventive plates and craft cocktails in a lively nightlife atmosphere. Housed in a reconverted firehouse, the soaring ceilings, exposed brick and leather furnishings makes an ideal backdrop for meeting friends or grabbing a bite before a show downtown.

The menu stars riffs on classic pub fare like their doughy pretzel bites served with beer cheese fondue or Yardbird sandwich with crispy buttermilk fried chicken and sharp cheddar. Heartier plates include the confit duck leg and wild mushroom risotto crowned with parmesan. And with twenty beers on tap, the drink menu excels as much as their food with local IPAs, stouts and cider. For elevated yet affordable gastropub cuisine paired with a rocking bar scene, Black Rock Tavern fires on all cylinders.

The Olive Tree – Best Lebanese Restaurant

Among Waterbury’s many ethnic eateries, The Olive Tree stands out for their authentic Lebanese meals freshly prepared daily by owners Annabelle and George Chami. Their cozy restaurant adorned with intricate wood carvings and textiles transports diners to the Middle East through cuisine.

Start off with creamy hummus, baba ghanoush and tabbouleh salads before sampling mixed grills starring juicy kafta kebabs and shish taouk chicken skewers over fluffy rice pilaf. Hearty stews like okra bamia simmered with tomatoes and lamb and stuffed grape leaves offer robustly flavored meatless options. And end your meal with baklava pastries or Arabic coffee scented with cardamom and clove. For a memorable culinary trip to Lebanon without leaving Connecticut, The Olive Tree hits the mark.

Hashani Mediterranean Restaurant – Best Turkish Restaurant

Another tasty passport stamp comes courtesy of Hashani Mediterranean Restaurant preparing of-the-moment Turkish fare focused on vibrant ingredients and dynamic spices. Their laidback atmosphere punctuated by hanging lanterns and colorful textiles makes an ideal backdrop for a leisurely lunch or dinner with friends.

Bright salads starring chopped cucumbers, tomatoes and peppery arugula drizzled with lemony sumac vinaigrette awaken tastebuds. Heartier plates feature their much-loved Adana kebab with hand-ground spiced lamb and chicken baked in a clay oven served over nutty bulgur pilaf. And save room for homemade baklava and Turkish tea fragranced with apples, cloves and orange to end your meal. For contemporary Turkish flavors in a stylish yet casual eatery, Hashani delivers.

Conclusion


Waterbury’s dining scene showcases why this city remains a hidden gem in Connecticut’s food culture. From Italian favorites at Roma Ristorante to Peruvian delights at Zavala, international flavors seamlessly meld with new American cuisine pushed forward by talented chefs. So next time you’re exploring Waterbury, be sure to visit these 12 best restaurants representing the city’s culinary diversity through outstanding food, drink and service worthy for any special occasion.

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