Pumpkins are everywhere in Connecticut in the fall, and not just in fields, at farm stands or as jack o’ lanterns at Halloween. Pumpkins and their cousins in the squash family are on the menus of many fine restaurants, bakeries and even bars in the Nutmeg State – which, coincidentally, is famous for that spice that is so often associated with all things pumpkin. From soups and curries, to ravioli, gnocchi and even martinis, pumpkin can be found everywhere in Connecticut in the fall. Chefs, bakers and even bartenders in Connecticut make use of this lead item in the fall cornucopia to spice up their soups, appetizers, main courses, desserts and even cocktails. Here are just five places to find some of the top pumpkin dishes in Connecticut.
Peppercorn’s Grill
357 Main St.
Hartford, CT  06106
(860) 547-1714
www.peppercornsgrill.com

Regulars of Peppercorn’s Grill on Main Street in Hartford usually make two requests: they ask for a table by the window and they order the pumpkin ravioli. The restaurant is well known for its artfully presented, elegantly plated yet hearty Roman-style Italian fare, and while the veal meatballs and sea bass are exquisite, it is chefs and owners Sal and Dino Cialfi’s home-made ravioli especially that keeps bringing the patrons back for more. They learned their craft at their uncle’s side at the family restaurant in Rome and brought that special taste of the Eternal City with them when they came to Connecticut 25 years ago. The various meat, cheese, spinach and especially lobster and shrimp raviolis are all excellent, but in the fall when the pumpkins are fresh, Sal and Dino’s pumpkin ravioli is the star of the show.

Related: Top Apple Pie In Connecticut

East West Grille
526 New Park Ave.
West Hartford, CT 06110
(860) 236-3287
www.eastwestgrille.com

Pumpkin curry is the cold weather treat of the season at the East West Grille on New Park Avenue in West Hartford come late fall and early winter. This Southeast Asian-themed restaurant offers a unique blend of Thai and Laotian cuisine, but also includes a taste of Cambodia and a touch of Chinese (and some American) cooking in its menu. The Thai portion of the menu includes a section on Thai curries – and while the pumpkin is at the bottom of the list and clearly marked seasonal, it is a big hit in the autumn. Chef Manola Sidara was born in Laos but raised in Colorado, where she learned traditional Laotian cooking (and dance) before going off to hone her talents at the Griffin Culinary Institute. The pumpkin curry is made with fresh pumpkin and, as with all of her curry dishes, the pumpkin variation comes with choice of protein (shrimp, beef, chicken, pork, salmon, crab, mixed seafood, tofu or vegetables) and rice (jasmine, brown or white and purple sticky rice).

Bailey’s Backyard
23 Bailey Avenue
Ridgefield, CT 06877
(203) 431-0796
www.baileysbackyard.com

Technically, a pumpkin martini is a drink and not a dish, but the pumpkin martini made at Bailey’s Backyard farm-to-table restaurant in Ridgefield is so rich, thick and creamy that it almost qualifies as an appetizer – or at least a soup course, albeit an alcoholic one. It is made with spiced rum, marula cream liqueur and a pumpkin syrup made in house. The pumpkin spice martini, moreover, is also the perfect drink to get a diner in the mood for the real soup course, especially executive chef Forest Pasternack’s seasonal special of butternut squash soup. Pasternack’s masterpiece is thickened with crème fraiche, sweetened with honey and topped with toasted pumpkin seeds. Those toasted pumpkin seeds add a unique, smoky flavor and crunchy texture to each spoonful – and may tempt the diner to order a second pumpkin spice martini to bookend the meal.

Pucci’s Pumpkin Gnocchi
Pucci’s Restaurant
728 Highland Ave.
Waterbury, CT 06708
(203) 757-4266
www.puccisrestaurant.com

Any good Italian restaurant can made a nice potato gnocchi, but in the fall, Pucci’s in Waterbury also makes one from fresh pumpkin. Pucci’s pumpkin gnocchi is its seasonal signature dish, and has been for many years at this charming little family-owned restaurant in the Town Plot section of Waterbury. There is no shortage of Italian restaurants or pizza parlors in the Brass City, but Pucci’s stands out a slice above the rest, and not only for this unique seasonal dish. It also makes pasta and pizza fresh and to order (with choice of thin, thick or crispy crust), and offer take out and delivery service. The gnocchi, however, is best eaten on the premises, straight from the kitchen, hot and with the pumpkin aroma wafting up to tease the olfactory senses.

DiSorbo’s Italian Pumpkin Pie
DiSorbo’s Italian Bakery
1448 Dixwell Ave.
Hamden, CT 06514
(203) 288-6505
www.disorbobakery.angelfire.com

Pumpkin pies are pretty standard fare at most bakeries, especially near Thanksgiving and Christmas. DiSorbo’s Italian Bakery in Hamden, however, has a special secret recipe that takes traditional (and often rather bland) American pumpkin pie and turns it into an Italian delight. Then again, this is the place that (at least claims) to have invented cannoli pie, and also offers a wide, rich, wonderful variety of custard- and cream-filled pies – along with cases upon cases of traditional Italian cakes, cookies and other pastries. DiSorbo’s Italian Bakery has been around for over 40 years, and its signature Easter Pie is also legendary, as are its lobster tails and, of course, cannoli that would make anyone’s Noni (Italian grandmother) jealous.

Related: Top Pumpkin Dishes In Connecticut

Mark G. McLaughlin is a professional and prolific writer with a proven publishing record in a wide variety of fields. An historian, novelist, freelance journalist, ghost-writer, book reviewer, magazine editor, web and magazine columnist, Mark has more than 30 years of experience. His work can be found at Examiner.com.

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