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Middletown's Culinary Renaissance

A first look at what restaurants are up-and-coming on Main Street.

 

People who are involved in the Middletown community are well aware of the big changes this town has gone through over the last few years. For those of you who aren’t, here’s a little history lesson. To this day, Middletown is a somewhat socially and economically segregated area.

For the most part, the town is middle to upper middle class, but one area, referred to as the North End, is exceedingly lower income than the rest. If you’ve walked down Main Street towards O’Rourke’s Diner, NoRa Cupcakery, or Eli Cannon’s, you’ve been to the infamous North End.

Because of the drug culture that is present in the area, as well as some isolated events that have occurred in the past, the neighborhood has a stigma for being somewhat sketchy and dangerous.

Unless you’re involved in the Middletown community, you probably had no idea that the town you’ve spent at least a couple of months in has a reputation for being dangerous. That’s because it’s rapidly changing. Yes, friends, we are living through the Middletown Renaissance.

Over the past few months alone, empty storefronts have been taken over by brand new businesses, bringing in traffic from the surrounding areas, and triggering a gentrification of the North End, which, because of an initiative set by the owners of Eli Cannon’s and their partner cupcake company, is now commonly referred to as NoRa. Many of these new businesses are restaurants.

Within the past nine months alone, Middletown has become home to NoRa Cupcake Company, Froyo World, and a modern/fusion-style eatery called Cafe 56. Several restaurants that were previously housed in smaller spaces have or are planning to move to larger locations, like Fusion Bakery and La Boca, and just yesterday as we walked down the street through the North End neighborhood, we were greeted by a couple exciting “coming soon signs” gracing empty storefronts. Here’s the rundown.

Lan Chi’s Vietnamese Restaurant (coming to 505 Main Street in November: We’ve always loved how ethnically diverse Main Street is, especially for a such a small town. Our current go-to Vietnamese spot Pho Mai pretty much exclusively serves the noodle soup for which it’s named, so we’re excited to extend our knowledge of Vietnamese cuisine with this new addition!

Krust Artisan Pizza Bar: Located right next to NoRa Cupcakery, the space that will soon house Krust was actually being worked on as we walked by. Hmm, we wonder how this new “artisan” pizza restaurant will compare to oldie but goodie Mondo?

Stella Doro II: Middletown’s parade of Italian restaurants just got a little longer. According to the sign up in front of Metro Plaza, Stella Doro just opened! Why the “II” at the end of the name? This restaurant also has a location just 30 minutes away in Old Saybrook, Connecticut. If it’s moving on to its second location, it must be pretty good! Next time we’re looking for a delicious pasta dish, we’ll be sure to check it out.

Middletown’s future is looking bright, and we’re excited to be here at a time when things are getting better and better everyday. With three new restaurants opening their doors this summer alone, and at least two more on the way, we can’t wait to see what the future has in store for our little home away from home.

-Ari Rudess

Are we missing anything? What do you think about the Middletown Renaissance?

 

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t September 20, 2012 at 05:53 PM
Highly recommend Cafe 56! Sabrina and Ed are culinary geniuses!
J8 September 20, 2012 at 08:58 PM
"For the most part, the town is middle to upper middle class, but one area, referred to as the North End, is exceedingly lower income than the rest. If you’ve walked down Main Street towards O’Rourke’s Diner, NoRa Cupcakery, or Eli Cannon’s, you’ve been to the infamous North End. Because of the drug culture that is present in the area, as well as some isolated events that have occurred in the past, the neighborhood has a stigma for being somewhat sketchy and dangerous. Unless you’re involved in the Middletown community, you probably had no idea that the town you’ve spent at least a couple of months in has a reputation for being dangerous." Wow. Really? This is how you size up the North End??...........

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