Westport, CT - 323 Restaurant & Bar breathes new life into an enduring Westport location filled with memories and history. This past April, after a year-long renovation, this former 19th century onion barn opened its doors introducing Westporters to a sleek, sophisticated restaurant and watering hole befitting this tony New York suburb.
Owners, Jay Faillace and his son Matt have gone to great lengths refurbishing the building (formerly Bogey’s). They dove into the underbelly of the old barn, replacing all operating systems, exposed the original hardwood flooring and raised the ceiling revealing the barn’s original wooden beams. With this solid foundation in place, 323’s style took shape utilizing contemporary furnishings and design elements. The lounge, which seats 48 including 22 at the bar, is wrapped in wainscoting under a vaulted planked ceiling. In the center of it all is a u-shaped wooden bar constructed of exotic West African Moabi pear wood. Grand linen shade chandeliers exude a soft glow throughout as does the fireplace. By day, the room’s large windows bathe the room in natural light.
Enter 323’s rear door into an attractive foyer adorned with photography depicting the charming and artistic town of Westport throughout the years. The dining room is chic and understated, with linen tablecloths, curved Hollywood banquette seating, an antiqued mirror and fresh floral arrangements.
The New American menu is prepared by Executive Chef Christopher Vacca, a seasoned industry professional and innovative culinary talent. A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park NY, Chef Vacca’s kitchen pedigree took form while cooking with famed chef Frédy Girardet’s at Giradet restaurant in Crissier, Switzerland and then while at the Mirabel Restaurant Group’s Cantinetta Piero in Yountville CA. Chef Vacca then had the good fortune and culinary prowess to land in the kitchens of Chef David Burke’s Park Avenue Café and Chef Pino Luongo’s Le Madri and Il Toscanaccio in Manhattan.
323’s approachable menu is comforting yet bold, fresh, and vibrant. Chef Vacca sources local produce, dairy, and sustainable seafood. Lunch favorites include New England Clam Chowder, the short rib and brisket blend 323 burger, smoked salmon tartine with crème fraiche, tobiko and caper jam, a stuffed portobello burger and an assortment of scrumptious salads.
Angry Shrimp Salad 2 Dinner highlights include signature dishes that run the gamut from grilled pork porterhouse with Anson Mills cheddar grits, salmon a la plancha with spring vegetable ragout and black truffle sauce, to crispy roasted chicken with fingerling potatoes and spicy Cajun country shrimp and grits. Chef Vacca’s Italian heritage shines through in such dishes as the eggplant terrine parmagiana, as well as with his house made gnocchi and stuffed pasta dishes, all prepared with seasonal vegetables and luscious sauces. 323’s steakhouse section of the menu features USDA prime dry aged steaks with classic steakhouse sides.
Accompanying the top shelf spirits, classic and specialty cocktails, craft beers and accessible wine offerings is a fun bar/lounge menu ($8-$17) available all day and into the wee hours when the rest of Westport seems to have called it a night. Offerings include arancini stuffed with provolone and wild mushrooms, Scotch eggs, Peking duck spring rolls, orange chipotle glazed Denver lamb ribs, burrata heirloom tomatoes and “polpette” meatballs served with “Nonna Vacca” marinara sauce.
Steps away from Westport’s bustling downtown, 323 Restaurant & Bar’s guests find a relaxing respite from the everyday. 323, a place where folks gather over great food and drinks in a comfortable and casual environment.