“I've learned that people will forget what you said. They will forget what you did. But they’ll never forget how you made them feel.” - Maya Angelou
As the year 2020 comes to an end, 89% of all stories and news and those annoying “Top 10” lists will be negative. They’ll be based on politics, the virus, financial strife, depression, stress, weight gain, and other things that “normal” people like to whine and commiserate about.
Not here! Not us!
We know that gratitude is the most-important emotion and we’re going to lay some down to finish out an awesome year and kick off an even awesomer (is that a word?) year in 2021!
We’ve been accused of being too nice. After all, negative people want to hear negative things and we never give wings or restaurants a bad rating. That’s because we’re not in the “rating” game. We’re in the “appreciating” game. And let’s be honest . . . there really isn’t such a thing as a bad wing!
We recorded over 100 episodes in just eleven months last year. And truly, almost every single one was a positive experience. Restaurants were forced to up their “A” games, and some just continued theirs. We were never received poorly, never mistreated slightly, and always left a place having made some new friends. So what kind of a list can we put together to commemorate the New Year?
While no restaurant made us feel “unappreciated” using our special "2020 Vision” we’re going to give you a Top 20 list (in alphabetical order) of places that made US feel MOST appreciated. We’ll also link up their website addresses, tell you what our favorite wing was there, and recommend you put them on YOUR list in 2021 or buy gift cards!! (Oh, and if you click on the related photo it will take you to our YouTube episode featuring that spot) Wings up!
American Forged Pub in Naugatuck: Not only were we blown away by the patriotic motif of this shrine to US Military, we fell in love with the owners (Mike & Taryn), the staff, the patrons, and (of course) the wings. We honestly felt like regulars. (Try their Buffalick, and Red, White, and Blue wings).
@thecorner in Litchfield: The staff was super friendly and cooperative as we showed up unannounced (as usual) and they had never even heard of us. The restaurant was busy at lunchtime and they let us rearrange the dining room to shoot. Chef Carlos came out of the kitchen to meet us as well. (Try that Maple Chipotle, or Truffle Parm)
Beachland Smoke in West Hartford: We were treated to every wing flavor on the menu by restaurant owner Chip Kohn, who made a special trip in to meet with us. We got the red carpet treatment for sure and found a new favorite spot that ranked VERY highly on all our lists! (Try their Carolina Mustard)
Blackboard Cafe in Windsor Locks: Though it was the last restaurant we visited in 2020, it was the FIRST time we walked in and saw a guy with a Wingaddicts shirt on sitting at the bar! Next thing we knew, he had five more Wingaddict friends of his come rolling in! We were taken care of by server Marliegh and owner Greg came out and expressed his appreciation also. (Try the Hot Crack Wings!)
Bonfire Grille / Founder’s House Pub & Patio in Milford: We’re going to group these both together because we went on the same day and were treated like kings by owners Frank and Rob in both spots. Their generosity was incredible and, again, we left as friends that day. These guys take appreciation and gratitude to another level! (Try the Habanero Blaze at Bonfire, and the Blistered Shishito Gorganzola at Founders)
Blind Rhino in Black Rock (and Norwalk): These guys also are kings of appreciation so it wasn’t a surprise that this instantly became one of our all-time favorites. Owners Casey Dohme and Jamie Pantanella actually opened the place an hour early just for us and they kept rolling out more and more amazing wings all day. (Try their Togarashi Brown Sugar, but also know that their Hot Buffalo and Garlic Parm both won awards at the National Buffalo Wing Festival in 2019!) Oh yeah, Senator Blumenthal showed up and gave us all awards.
Cold Creek Tavern in Ellington: Super cool place with a great vibe, great staff, and friendly patrons. Owner Jamie Boucher was super generous, took care of us all afternoon and rolled out a vast display of flavors (and cool dry rubs too). Oh, and beer! It’s a Brewery as well. (Try Grandpa Joe’s Wings)
Dew Drop Inn in Derby: I’d say that 75% of people in CT will tell you Dew Drop is the best spot for wings. They have 100 flavors, a cool atmosphere, and never disappoint. However, there’s usually a reason for being mentioned with “the best.” One huge reason is owner Jason Carlucci. Dew Drop was our first “official” Wingaddicts stop. He wasn’t there at the time and NOBODY ever heard of us. We were so new that WE hadn’t even heard of us. Yet his bartender called him and he picked up the entire tab sight unseen. We’ve been back to DD a few more times since that day and have gotten to know the man behind that generosity. Excellence starts at the top! (Try some desert wings. Trust us)
Five Corners Bistro in Farmington: We had never heard of this place until a friend made a Facebook post. This subtle-looking gem is right at the popular "five corners" area of town and when we walked in and met owners Christos and Despina Theodoropoulos they had never heard of us either! Haha. But after a few hours, a few dozen wings, and a few gins (shhhh), we left as friends! (Try their Sticky Asian Wings)
Fork & Fire in Farmington: Manager Ruvin Bogati was smiling ear to ear as we walked in from the parking lot. Most of the time we show up unannounced but we recognize that “look” when people see three knuckleheads in Wingaddicts apparel come through the door. We were given run of the place, treated to every wing on the menu (and even some NOT on the menu). Brian was an all-star behind the bar as well! (Try that Alabama BBQ)
Groggy Frogg in Southington: When we started the Wingaddicts, our second stop (after Dew Drop) was this bar in Southington where “best wings” banners practically cover the side of the building. When we told them what we were up to, we were immediately like family. It’s remained that way in the two different times we’ve been back. We’re Groggy Frogg royalty! And we appreciate that!! There are a solid 80-plus flavors on the menu. (Try their FU Hot wings - if you have it in you!)
Hometown Pizza in Southbury: I went there alone at the beginning of the pandemic and shot a video inside my car as I fawned over these Mango Habanero wings (still my favorite Mango Habs). A week later I call and place an order for Mango Habs and leave my last name. When I went to pick them up (before the days of the Wingaddicts uniforms) I was greeted by Vinnie at the door and he hooked me up with an extra order of his “secret wings.” Doni and I went back and shot a proper video during the summer, same royal treatment. This place is special and so are the people. (Try, you guessed it, Mango Habanero!)
Hot Rod Cafe in New London: You know it’s going to be a special day when you go to a well-known award winning wing spot. But when your name “Welcome Wingaddicts” is on the blackboard on the sidewalk out front, you immediately feel the love. Owners Rod Cornish and Chef Carlos Paucar greeted us inside and helped us get set up in the best spot. The proceeded to bring out wing after wing after wing after wing, including a special “for the first time ever” wing made from fresh Ghost Peppers. They sat with us for the whole episode, as if we were at their house for dinner. It's clear just why this place is SO special. (Try their traditional hot buffalo. It won awards at the National Buffalo Wing Festival in Buffalo) And ask to see the trophy. I kissed it!
The Hub in Naugatuck (and Ansonia): This adventure got off to a rough start when the sky opened up and it poured rain. It was just Ryan and me and this thin little restaurant (known for pizza) really only had one table where we’d be able to shoot with proper light. And that table was taken. Lucky for us, it was taken by a couple of Wingaddicts fan (we have lots in Naugy) and they relocated for us. The staff was awesome and the GM Curly took amazing care of our every need. We felt like rockstars and the wings were insane. (Try their Boom Boom Wings, extra sauce)
JJ Stacks in Brookfield: While they’re currently closed down for the winter (covid), we got another red carpet treatment at JJ Stacks. Owner Joe Attonito changed his whole day around when he found out we were there and he showed up before the wings did. Joe joined us in the video shoot! (When they open back up GO THERE and get Tequila Lime)
JP Dempsey's in New Haven: We kept getting requests from the head bartender Brian Bowden to check out the wings here. The look on his face was priceless as we rolled up on a Monday evening. It was wintery weather, the place was pretty busy, and we needed to get the spot right at the front of the bar. A patron volunteered to move for us and Brian brought us all eight flavors on the menu. The owner, “Disko” also made his way over when he heard we were there and spent some time getting to know us all. I’ve NEVER felt more comfortable in New Haven. (Try their Sweet Thai Chili)
MAG’s Pizza in Seymour: In a strip plaza on Route 67 sits this giant restaurant that looks out of business. We showed up unannounced, introduced ourselves, and were immediately part of the family. A family business named after the owner's three daughters Madeline, Alana, and Grace, it looks like an amazing live music venue and actually fits up to 250 people. The patrons were bragging about the pizza but we were treated to four ridiculous flavors all amazing. (Try Cherry Pepper Twist wings)
Ordinary Joe’s in Watertown: This experience is hard to quantify. I get the impression that everybody feels like royalty when they walk through these doors. Not only were the wings insane, but the owner Joe Vitone (who knew about us, but didn’t know we were coming) gave us the 5-star treatment. It felt like we’d been there a thousand times before. It’s the kind of place you don’t want to leave. GM Kevin made us feel right at home and made sure we tried eight crazy flavors! (Try their Garlic Parm, or Teriyaki Wasabi Drizzle)
Royal Coachman Tavern in Riverton: Over the river and through the woods and all the way up Route 8 into Barkhampstead we came upon The Old Riverton Inn, restaurant named The Royal Coachman Tavern. One of the oldest Inns in CT has been taken over and fixed up by Adam and Danamarie Towers all in 2020. We were set up with a table by the fire, seven amazing flavors of wings, and got the chance to spend some time with the owners and meet the chef. We also got a tour of this amazing place all decorated up for Christmas. Their hospitality was at another level, again proving why they’ll succeed at a high level. (Try the Coconut Chili. Seriously)
Scooters Bar & Grill in New Milford: We just rolled into this place on a whim. Like, we were in town. It had only been open for a few months and owner Eddie David (who had heard of the Wingaddicts) treated us like rockstars. We had run of the dining room and were treated to all four amazing smoked wings on the menu, in addition to getting the tour and checking out the smoker out back. Co-owner Vilson Vitaj came hurrying in from New York to meet us as well and cap off an exceptional visit! (Try their Slow Death wings)
Sliders Grill & Bar (5 locations): While we first visited Sliders way back in the spring when they weren’t open for indoor dining, ordered takeout and did Wings on the Hood, we were treated like gold from the staff who didn’t know who we even were. I get the feeling everybody gets that treatment there. THEN, Sliders became the ONLY restaurant in 2020 to send us a hand-written thank you card. Yep. One! And if that wasn’t good enough, and it was, owner Fred Marcantonio (who we did NOT meet) included three $75 gift cards as thanks. We’re not asking for such things, and we DO NOT expect them. But I’m smiling as I type this. (Try their Lemon Pepper, and their Buffalo sauce is to LIVE for)
Uncommon Grill in Watertown: Yeah, the list was Top 20 but wouldn’t be complete without the adventure we had at UG. Indoors was closed, the patio was full, but we were permitted to pull the Jeep right up to the restaurant to do Wings on the Hood. Owner Afrim Pocesta gave us the royal treatment as we ate amazing wings and got to meet much of his staff, family members, and co-owners as well. Oh, and bourbon. There’s that. Then, Afrim did something that no restaurant owner would do. He recommended we try out another wing spot right down the street from him. That’s how we found Daveluy’s. (Try their Cilantro Honey Sriracha)
Several of these amazing restaurant owners wouldn’t accept our money and we didn't want to single out which ones. We don’t expect owners to pick up the tab (especially during these covid times) but many do and it really says appreciation! A thousand thank you's to those of you who showed that generosity (you know who you are).
It bears repeating that ALL of the establishments we visited in 2020 were wonderful. Nobody made us feel unwelcome or uncomfortable. Some just went the extra extra mile. And we wanted to express our personal appreciation! Happy New Year Wingaddicts!! We hope that 2021 will be the year of your dreams and that we can play some small part in making it so! It's gonna be a GREAT year!