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First their story.
Then his.
Now everyone’s.

Just over 60 years ago, Tom and Estelle got married. Four years later, they welcomed a little boy named Steven into the family. And a year after that, they opened a restaurant called Antonio’s on Hopmeadow Street, Simsbury’s main thoroughfare. It was a bit north of the town’s center, and in those days, “a bit north” could have been a deal breaker — but when word got out just how great Antonio’s Italian cuisine was, not only did Simsbury residents head there but so did hungry diners from throughout the Farmington Valley and beyond. And even when they moved the whole kit ‘n caboodle into a fancy new building nearby, the customers kept on coming, lured in by a menu replete with delectable Italian classics, as well as a decidedly eclectic variety of additional offerings. In 1993, when Tom and Estelle retired — handing their box of secret recipes over to Steven and heading for Florida — he embraced his legacy with gusto and has done them proud. So go ahead. Order any one of their Italian dishes with confidence. Or be adventuresome with appetizers like Fried Pickles and the Mucho Macho Nacho Man Nachos…salads like the Maui Wowie… sandwiches like the Whiskey River Wrap…or a dinner selection called The Black Magic. And do not (repeat: do not!) miss their PIZZZAAAHHHS, Calzones, or Grinders. As a matter of fact, try everything. Like Antonio’s itself, the menu isn’t just a classic. It’s become a part of the fabric of the Farmington Valley’s history. And somehow, it never gets old.
— J.H.
Antonio's Restaurant
1185 Hopmeadow St., Simsbury
860-651-FEED (3333)
www.antoniosofsimsbury.com


Think a pizza is
a pizza is a pizza?

Wrong. And not just because some are square and some are round — and they all have different toppings. Word has it that Lisa’s Luna Pizza is the only pizza place in the Farmington Valley that uses fresh mozzarella, and on top of that (well, maybe under that) go real Italian plum tomatoes, real Pecorino Romano, and real olive oil. Put all those “reals” together and you’ve got a really good pizza — not some pie-in-the-sky wannabe. What’s that? Not into pizza? Then Lisa’s salads, grinders, calzone, and stromboli should hit the spot, all of them made with the best ingredients, including freshly baked breads delivered daily all the way from the Arthur Avenue Baking Company in the Bronx. (Yes. The Bronx. Wow.) And their large selection of beers and wines is perfect with food this good. Best of all, there’s an actual “Lisa,” so say hi when you go. — J.H.
Lisa's Luna Pizza
530 Bushy Hill Rd., Simsbury
Main Phone: 860-651-1820
Delivery: 850-651-6591
www.lunapizzasimsbury.com




The “Dom” Perignon
of Coffee Shops

Contemporary, yet warm. Bright. Airy. Wonderfully simple. And so very, very Zen. That’s Dom’s Coffee Shop in the heart of Avon — and what a lovely change of pace when it’s time for a cuppa, a little something sweet, and a few minutes with a good book, good friends, or a few colleagues. Beans for the freshly brewed coffees are roasted by J Renée in West Hartford. The freshly baked pastries arrive warm from Hartford Baking Company and Better Half Bakery. Breakfast and lunch is available all day, serving made-to-order sandwiches, salads, and soups. And right in the midst of it all is a cheese shop! Indeed, an award-winning cheese shop called Dom’s Cheese Shop — where cheeses, charcuterie, and other “food goods” from Italy, Greece, Spain, France, Lithuania, Austria, Norway, Sweden, England, Ireland, and some of the finest local farms make every visit a freshly inspiring adventure. So go — for as one entire wall at the shop quietly affirms You can’t buy happiness…But you can buy coffee…And that’s pretty close. And you know what they say: Never ignore the handwriting on the wall! — J.H.
Dom's Coffee
20 West Main St., Avon
860-255-7232
www.domscoffee.com


When Present
Meats Past

Used to be you could go to your neighborhood grocery store and actually talk to the butcher. You know, ask about his kids, brag about yours, then discuss this week’s best buys so you can order exactly the meats you prefer before heading off to select the freshest produce and dairy possible, hearty homemade breads and baked goods, and all the different seasonings, sauces, soups and snacks you’ll need to keep the whole family healthy and happy. Well, welcome back to the way things were — at Avon Prime Meats. Meats are their “essence,” of course, always locally sourced and incredibly fresh. But this spacious yet intimate market also sells everything you’ll need for every meal you can imagine — and then some, with catering expertly planned and prepared by professional chefs who routinely dazzle. Hot meals to go, as well as heat ‘n serve selections, all made from scratch for genuine home-cooked goodness. Wonderful coffees and teas. Some really nice New England beers. Tasty dog treats. A gluten-free section where flavor still matters. There’s even a nutritionist on staff to help those with other dietary issues make healthy choices. Mulling over next week’s family meals? Maybe it’s time your list started with Avon Prime Meats. And if someone says, “welcome back,” you’ll understand what they mean.
— J.H.
Avon Prime Meats
395 West Main St., Avon
860-676-4444
www.avonprimemeats.com




Dreaming Big
Perhaps the Rotary started out as a social club where Chicago professionals with diverse backgrounds could get to know one another, but not long after its founding in 1905, the club’s growing membership began broadening their vision to include service to humanity as a guiding principal — unafraid to “dream big.” And the rest, as they say, is history.

Adopting the motto Service Above Self their commitment to bettering the world led them to take on some pretty daunting missions and accomplish some pretty astonishing goals, including the program Rotary International launched in 1979 to immunize six million of the world’s children against polio. Today, that number has soared to include some 2.5 billion children.

Well, a few years back, the Rotary of Avon-Canton did some big dreaming of its own, committing to contribute $150,000 toward a new center that FAVARH (a local chapter of the Arc — the world’s largest community-based organization for people with intellectual, physical and developmental disabilities) was hoping to build. And in 2020, the Harry and Renee Haag Life Education Center became a reality — along with the Avon-Canton Rotary Building, where one of the center’s two Day Programs, offices for the Board of Education’s transition program, a transportation hub, and the Café and kitchen where meals for both the Day and Residential Programs are prepared, expanded FAVARH’s capabilities significantly.

Fact is, thanks to the big dreams of the Rotary of Avon-Canton, FAVARH’s participants, their families, and the organization’s staff can now indulge in doing some big dreaming of their own. And that’s exactly as it should be.
Kudos. — J.H.
Rotary of Avon-Canton
P.O. Box 11, Avon, CT 06001
www.rotaryclubofavon-canton.org

There are a lot of
things in life you
can do without.

But a heating and plumbing expert is not one of them. Nope. Not here in New England, where “brrrrrrrrr” is considered an actual word. Not if you’re planning to redo that tired old kitchen or bath. And not if your home has running water. (We’re assuming it does.) So remember this name: Avon Plumbing & Heating. Their staff is experienced at designing and installing plumbing and heating systems, including radiant heat, whether it’s a small residential project or a major commercial build — and if a repair is all you need, just say the word, because they’ve got one of the best selections of parts in these parts. If remodeling your kitchen or bath is in the cards, you’ll want to collect a few of theirs, because their professional showroom consultants will help you select everything from their actual working displays. And they specialize in the roll-in showers, walk-in tubs, and other accommodations that make living at home easier (and sometimes just plain possible) — as well as the systems and services that homes with well water often need or want. They even install gas logs, so the warmth of a fire can be yours at the flip of a switch. Avon Plumbing & Heating. Their experts will be there when you want them — and there when you need them.
— J.H.
Avon Plumbing & Heating
124 Simsbury Rd., Avon
860-677-9721
www.avonplumbing.com





 

 

 

 



Putting the
“Din” in Dinner

There’s only one place we know of where you are guaranteed actual sizzle with your meal, and that’s Ruth’s Chris Steak House. Fact is, Ruth’s Chris Steak House learned a long time ago that broiling the finest cuts of beef to perfection, topping them with a buttery mix of freshly chopped parsley, then serving them on a 500-degree plate so customers can actually hear the savory flavor isn’t simply the way to a man’s (or woman’s) heart. It’s the shortest route. And when they discovered that they could make chicken and chops and seafood deafeningly delectable, it sort of lit a fire under them — and before you knew it, Ruth’s became an international favorite. The good news is there’s one close by in Newington. Where? Just follow your ears. — J.H.
Ruth's Chris Steak House
2513 Berlin Tpke., Newington
860-666-2202
www.ruthschris.com

Tell them Norm sent you.
If you’re heading out to eat, drink, and relax, then you want to go somewhere you can wear jeans, talk quietly, and laugh loudly — and locally, that place is the Red Stone Pub. Not your typical restaurant, the Red Stone Pub is where you go to feed both body and soul.

Set in an historic stable and carriage house built in 1904, this place was rather aptly referred to by one reviewer as the Valley’s Cheers. And indeed, Red Stone Pub offers “all of the comforts and charm of a true pub,” including an expansive oak bar and cozy private booths. Fireplaces for the winter. A casual patio in summer. Chalkboards featuring all of the fine beer, wine, and spirits stocked for your pleasure, as well as a heads up on the specials that round out their regular menu of hearty sandwiches and savory appetizers. Plus more geniality than one can possibly appreciate in a single visit, which means you’ll need to stop in often. But don’t worry. It’ll be good for what “ales” you! . — J.H.
Red Stone Pub
10 Jim Gallagher Way, Simsbury
860-217-1744
www.redstonepubs.com



Introducing
Hartford County’s
Big Cheese

Know who got the Connecticut Magazine Award for “Best Cheese Shop in Hartford County?” Yup. Avon’s own Dom’s Cheese Shop. You might even say Dom’s is Dom-inating the cheese market. But that’s not all you’ll find in this posh little place, because owners Andrius and Asta — whose love of quality, originality, and flavor is second to none — not only offer their discerning customers some of the finest cheeses, charcuterie, and other fabulous food goods from all over the world, including Italy, Greece, Spain, France, Lithuania, Austria, Norway, Sweden, England and Ireland. And they carry a nice variety of locally made cheeses too, from Arethusa Farm, Cato Corner Farm and Mystic Cheese. Feeling like a quiet nibble? Stop in for a small plate. Having a party? Then you’ll want a platter (or two or three) of cheeses and meats and all the elegant et ceteras your guests will relish. Either way, stop in. — J.H.
Dom's Cheese Shop
20 West Main St., Avon
860-707-0925
www.domscheese.com

A Small Company with
a Passion for a Big Idea

Lasa Extract is one of Connecticut’s newest CBD manufacturers, but the management team brings decades of history and experience to the products they create. The Suffield-based business located in a repurposed tobacco factory, was established by former jai alai player, arborist and woodworking-aficionado Rick Sotil and his wife Valentina.

For nearly two decades, Rick, a native of Cuba who grew up in the Basque region of Spain, was a standout jai alai player, winning world championships and serving as the players’ union leader. After retiring from the sport, his love of woodworking drove him to launch Sotil Tree Service, all while salvaging wood to create one-of-a-kind tables and furniture. When Connecticut launched its hemp program in 2019, Rick and Valentina saw an opportunity to utilize the old tobacco factory for a new business – extracting CBD oil.

Today, the couple works with a small team to produce some of the purest hemp oil on the market, using environmentally sound, state-of-the-art processes. In its extraction processing, Lasa Extract uses carbon dioxide, a naturally occurring gas that leaves no residue, while protecting the environment.

Rick capitalized on long-standing relationships to form partnerships with local farmers who provide hemp; a kiln used for years to dry wood for Sotil’s furniture projects now dries racks of hemp; the buildings that housed the tree service offices and a furniture showroom are now also home to a lab and clean rooms where the hemp is processed and CBD oil extracted. “Lasa,” which means “calm” in Basque, is the nickname under which Rick played jai alai. Lasa Extract hopes to bring that calm to the CBD business.
Lasa Extract LLC
426 South Grand St., Suffield
203-906-6001
www.lasaextract.com

Feline? Canine?
WAGS offers the whole
“nine” yards —
and then some.

Tucked into a cozy little cluster of shops conveniently off Avon’s main drag is a little neighborhood store called The Wholesome Animal Grocery Store. Big enough to carry all of the prime-quality foods and supplements and treats specifically developed to optimize your pet’s health — as well as the toys, bedding, supplies, and grooming products that make life better, it’s also small enough to ensure that if you come in with a special need, a question, a concern, or a problem that needs solving, you won’t be talking to the part-timer stocking the shelves. You’ll be talking to the owner or one of his seasoned assistants, all of whom are knowledgeable about dogs and cats and what keeps them their healthiest at every stage life — and all of whom enjoy providing genuinely personalized service on a first-name basis. And since a healthy dog or cat is usually a happy dog or cat, and happy dogs and cats enrich their owners’ health, too, WAGS might just be a whole new leash on life for everyone! — J.H.
WAGS - The Wholesome
Animal Grocery Store
70 East Main St., Avon
860-675-4564
www.wholesomeanimal.com


You’re going
to dig
these guys.

Because these are the guys who will come and dig up that overgrown tangle of a garden spanning your entire yard — or the dreadful lawn you couldn’t see for all the snow when you bought your new house last winter. They’re the guys who will dig out that crumbling concrete sidewalk leading from the parking lot to your beautiful new offices — or reclaim all of that wasted space along your store’s stunning glass façade, now choked with old mulch, leftover gravel, and weeds.

And when these guys are through doing their digging, they will replant that massive garden. Re-grade, seed, and fertilize your entire lawn to make it every bit as lovely as your new home. Lay hard-pack gravel and sand along that new walkway to your office before adding the cobblestone pavers that will welcome clients properly. They will even design and build a beguiling little terrace featuring perennials along your store’s exterior approach, inviting window shoppers to do some window shopping before stopping in for a closer look.

But then that’s just some of what these guys, also known as SVL, LLC, do. They’re experts at developing and executing both landscape and hardscape designs — large and small, residential and commercial — all while providing the ongoing lawn, garden, and overall property maintenance required to ensure that each customer’s investment retains its beauty and value for years to come.

And you can dig that, too! — J.H.
SVL, LLC
369 West Main St., Avon
860-819-9929
www.svlct.com

 

 




 

 

 

 

 

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