The year 2022 is a little more than half way in the books and what a half year it's been!
1. We started up our "Saucy Saturdays" series with YouTube episodes featuring 16 different sauce brands that you can purchase nationwide.
2. We successfully launched the world's first chicken wing app "Wingaddicts Starter Wings" which helps you find (and even review) different wing spots all over the world. It's available for FREE on all platforms!
4. We watched the "Wingaddicts Community" group on Facebook grow several thousand people larger and we got started with cataloging every wing flavor we've ever eaten on our Wingaddicts Instagram page (go see @wingaddicts)!
And FINALLY, we just finished off Season Nine "More Wings Please" on the Wingaddicts YouTube Channel with Episode #20. *Please subscribe to our Channel!
This week's "Under the Wingfluence" blog will summarize all twenty restaurants along with the 780 wings in 130 flavors we showcased during Season Nine. (If you'd like to view each episode, just click on the restaurant's name to open the link)
We started off January 2022 in East Hartford at a spot called Carmine's Bar Grill & Stage. Carmine Pellegrino was jamming on the base guitar with some musician buddies and came up with the idea to start his own restaurant/bar to showcase local bands and live music. With his wife Holly and his two kids he opened up this spot in 2015 and has been serving great Italian cuisine and killer wings to live music every single night of the week. We enjoyed Buffalo, Honey Mustard, Honey BBQ, Sweet Chili, Cajun Dry Rub and (of course) Garlic Parmesan wings that night!
Episode Two falls into the category of what we do for you. Social media was buzzing as Taco Bell launched its ridiculous campaign to serve chicken wings for one week only. Thank God, I was unavailable for that one saving my colon six months of lifespan. But Doni the Cleaner and Wingchef Ryan paid a visit to the drive-through window and took one for the team.
We struck solid gold in Episode Three when we went into Thomaston and dined on gourmet wings prepared by chef/owner Red Lanphear at Black Rock Tavern. Check out this lineup: We had Truffle Black Garlic, Thai Sweet Ginger Teriyaki, Sweet Heat, Nashville Hot, Dirty Hot Honey, Cherry Mead Bacon, and Garlic Parmesan.
Next we went to visit owner Mike Miller at his newest Hop Haus location in Plainville. Yes, that Plainville. Right down the street from wing giants J.Timothy's and Sliders, Hop Haus picked right up on its modern Gastropub theme similar to its sister restaurant in Southington. We enjoyed the Buffalo, Korean BBQ, Lemon Pepper, Maple Bacon, Sweet Heat and Orange Jerk but the star of the day might have been the special Ghost Buffalo wings!
Blue Plate Tavern is yet another Plainville wing destination. Smaller, and more of a local dive bar haunt, their wings were on par with "the big guys." We had Buffalo, Garlic Parm, Nashville Hot, Rajun Cajun, Sticky Icky and their classic Great Mistake. And of course we ate them on blue plates!
Episode Six took us to North Haven to the home of the famous Doob Wings, Hard Hat Cafe. We had filmed at Hard Hat Two (in Wallingford) back at the beginning of Covid, but this was our first venture into THE famous OG. Of course we were floored by the legendary Doob wings (buffalo wings fried, sauced, and grilled) but we also struck our all-time favorite Lemon Pepper wings there. In addition we had Buffalo Bleu, Honey BBQ, Garlic Parm, Teriyaki and BBQ. We WILL be Relapsing there soon!
Half Door is a spot we heard from in Hartford back in 2020 and we finally made it over to this classic Irish Pub just a few days before St Paddy's Day! In addition to the usual Buffalo, BBQ, and Garlic Parm selections we also were treated to Hot Honey, Sticky Korean, Maple Bacon Sriracha and the chef's special Drunken Irish Wings. Slainte!
One of our all-time most-fun Wingaddicts adventures (and we've had some great ones) came when we went to Simsbury for an episode at Old Well Tavern. In a building that's older than the United States we made a bunch of new friends and even met Seth, the resident ghost who was burried in the basement back in the 1800's. Owners Frank Cordoso and Erika Lange treated us to some amazing wings in insane and unique flavor combos. Old Well also cooks wings in multiple ways (fried / grilled / smoked) and we enjoyed Buffalo, Tavern, Cricket, Gary, Ninja, Toothaker, XXX, and Widow Maker wings! Good luck figuring those out! Can't wait to go back!
After Old Well, we stumbled into another gold mine when we visited Jimmie's Place in Seymour. Founded by Jimmie Principi back in the 50's this local institution passed down through three more generations ending up in the hands of 23-year old Chris Caruso after his father and grandfather both tragically passed away (within four days of one another) in 2021. Chris, his mom, and his two little brothers gave the place a face lift, opened the restaurant for seven-days-a-week, and became a bonafide wing player! We had Buffalo, Cherry Teriyaki, Cilantro Lime, Horseradish Peppercorn, Hot Honey Garlic, Lemon Pepper and Maple Bourbon Bacon. It is IMPOSSIBLE to pick a favorite from that stable!
As occasionally happens, our wing plans were sidetracked as we went out to shoot Episode Ten in Shelton only to find that the spot we planned on visiting was closed. So we drove down Bridgeport Ave and spotted a big sign that said "Arooga's." A popular Pennsylvania wing chain, this particular Aroogas was owned by the Mohegan Sun Casino but closed down when Covid began. It sat vacant until CT restauranteur David McBride jumped in and brought it back to life. It's a huge sports bar, similar to what you'd expect at a Buffalo Wild Wings. But the wings were definitely a level above. We had their "Almost Everything" wings, Buffalo Bleu, Cajun Dry, Garlic Parm and Kangarooga.
Ten episodes in - "at the turn" for you golfers out there - we actually shot our first-ever golf course wings episode at Minnechaug Golf Course in Glastonbury, at a restaurant called Tenth Hole Tavern. Young entrepreneur Tyler Devaux (also the owner of Hangar at Goodwin Park) opened up this "for real" great restaurant serving all types of pizza and bar food. Their wings were also unique and unforgettable including Buffalo, Carolina Gold, Tavern Dry Rub, Mango Habanero and the classic, Mile High Wings.
There are so many great wing spots in the Naugatuck Valley and without question the most-inviting from the street is Caloroso on Center Street in Shelton. From it's expansive parking lot to its brand new two-level outdoor bar and dining area it just screams "COME HERE!" So we did! Owner and lifetime Shelton resident Matt Calandro (whose father Frank Calandro was a restaurant legend in town) took over this classic spot and created an amazing atmosphere. And as great as the wings were - we had some amazing flavors like BBHB (Bourbon BBQ Habanero Bacon), Honey Soy, Sweet & Spicy Dry, Buffalo, Chipotle BBQ and Garlic Parmesan - I can't stop dreaming about the Sonny's Chicken Scarpariello I took to go.
Papa's Wings and Seafood in East Hartford is a "takeout only" spot that we've been wanting to visit ever since owner James Green joined our Wingaddicts Community a few years back. In 2020, James opened up this fried chicken-slash- comfort food - slash - Caribbean kitchen where he does it different than any place we've ever seen. From the Garlic Parmesan to the Jerk, Papa's Sauce, Papa's Kickin' Sauce, and the extraordinary Lemon Buffalo these flavor bombs have a special spice to the breading and hold onto that flavor until it gets in your mouth!
Both Doni and Wingchef Ryan are Southington boys, but we hadn't made it out to 75 Center until Episode Fourteen of Season Nine! Run by the same owners as 66 Church and The Hub in Naugatuck, Derek Lee, this place recently got a complete face lift and upgraded everything - including the wings. New chef Bobby Santamauro treated us to a solid lineup of Buffalo, Jameson BBQ, Buffalo Parm, Honey Hot, Mango Habanero and Teriyaki wings which were all spot on!
Another spot we'd been trying to get to for over a year is Clocktown Brewing Company in Thomaston. Well we finally made it. Founders George LaCapra and Ed Daignault spared no expense creating this gigantic meeting place with its own craft beer, state-of-the-art kitchen and amazing staff. It was tough to get through the lobster rolls and wood fired pizzas to our wing mission. But we somehow managed to devour some Blazin Honey, Bourbon BBQ, Buffalo, Garlic Parm, Hawaiian Teriyaki and Togarashi Dry Rub wings!
Doni the Cleaner took off on vacation the day before Carlos Perez, Executive chef at @TheCorner in Litchfield invited us up to get a look at his all-new menu. His restaurant (owned by Red Lanphear, see Black Rock Tavern) had just won the Connecticut Restaurant Association's top prize for "Best Restaurant in Western Connecticut." So he decided to completely flip the menu. And we're glad he did. Wingchef Ryan and I actually tried out ALL SIXTEEN of the wings on the new menu (this episode had to be broken into two parts), including the (not on the menu) homemade fermented Pineapple Habanero that heated up the night!
On a tip from Jimmy Altman of Connecticut Fox 61 News we went to West Hartford next to take a look at the brand new WeHa Brewing Co. This coffee brewing house by morning, beer brewing company by day and night, also has a kitchen attached called Phatty Wagon Kitchen. Run by Nick Glenn, the food there was insane on another level. There are only four wings on that menu, but worth a trip from anywhere. We had Buffalo, Garlic Parm, Korean BBQ and his special Fig Jam brunch wings. Oh, and a stupid chicken sandwich and possibly the best burger I ever ate in my life. There was more too, but my food coma removed half my memory bank. Go there!
Nobody looking for a wing spot would ever consider stopping in at a bar called Sam the Clam's. We knew the spot was there. I'd been there for takeout lobster rolls a few times. But owner John Acanfora, also the owner of the aforementioned Hard Hat Cafe, invited us out and told us that the Bourbon Molasses wings would rock our world. Well, they did. However, they might have been our fourth favorite behind the divine (and unique) Mango Habanero, the Chicken Parmesan Wings (a first) and the Ghost Chili wings. What a discovery!
Our third Shelton stop in Season Nine was at the town's oldest pub location. Formerly a hopping night spot called Downtown Danny O's, The Pub on Howe is back in business under original owners Danny and Linda Orazietti and as good as ever. A little bit downscaled since the days of two-levels and rooftop parties, this Irish Pub blew our minds with possibly the best reuben sandwich I've ever tried, Irish egg rolls, and other insane fare, the wings were also top notch. We made our way through Buffalo, Carolina BBQ, Garlic Parmesan, Honey Hot, Jerk and Stingin' Honey Garlic. What a night!
We don't normally enjoy the cliche' "franchise wings" spots because we question quality and commitment. We also had HUGE preconceived notions about Hooters (as do most people). I imagined big breaded buffalo wings and belly aches. What we found, at the Wethersfield location, was a restaurant that has evolved its wing game. You can get wings fried, smoked, roasted or grilled in 16 flavors. We were all three blown away by the wings at Hooters. Really.
So that's the end of Season Nine. Now it's time to buckle up for "Season Ten: Back at it Again."
What Connecticut locations would you like to see us highlight? We'd love to hear from you!
We're simply not full yet! Wings up!
Tommy Wyatt is co-founder of Wingaddicts and writes this weekly blog “Under the Wingfluence” for Wingaddicts.com.
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