Stamford CT- Fortina rooftop and Dino BBQ

I spent the afternoon in Stamford yesterday at Fortina’s new rooftop (just opened a couple weeks ago) and Dinosaur BBQ. Thought I’d report back on a fun, delicious day.

Fortina’s Stamford location is in a beautiful, airy building. We hightailed it up three flights to the rooftop. They are definitely still getting their act together up there but it is a fun place to hang out on a gorgeous day or evening. For some reason they are doing a complicated ticket system (like a carnival? the guy told us) that is slightly annoying and slow to use so we’ll see if that lasts. A ticket costs $8, and everything they offer right now is one ticket (includes tax and tip). So you are getting some bang for your buck with their potent and fun cocktails BUT they are also then charging $8 for not-so-big pieces of (albeit delicious) sicilian pizza and not- very-interesting beers. The pizza slices and beers should be $4 or something each instead of $8. Anyway, the pina colada, Motorino, Mousse punch, and boozy Italian ice cocktail were all delicious and served in whimsical drinking vessels (inflatable flamingos, mini plastic buckets with shovels, etc.). They are not offering the food that is featured in the recent review in Westchester magazine yet. Maybe that was from an opening party. Hopefully they get their acts together a bit more up here and they will be packed with revelers day and night.

Dinosaur BBQ holds a special place in my heart as I am a huge fan of the original in Syracuse. The one in Stamford is not quite as gritty as the original but the food is just as good as I remember. No frills but BBQ done well. They have an amazing 12-5 Saturday daytime happy hour with $4 beers, $5 appetizers, and $6 well drinks/wine/cocktails. For $10 each plus tip, we had a veritable feast of almost everything on the appetizer menu. Wings, ribs, sliders of all sorts, deviled eggs, Dino poutine, cornbread, and mac and cheese-- all was devoured and all was delicious. It’s not the best barbecue in the world (I can say that now that I’ve been to Austin and tasted BBQ nirvana there) but it continues to be really good even as the Dino empire has expanded. We will absolutely go back.

We capped off our day with ice cream sandwiches at Bareburger back over by Fortina, which are always amazing, made with homemade cookies and Blue Marble ice cream.

A fun day in Stamford…

Thanks for the report! I love Fortina - I’m a big fan. We go to the one in Armonk but this rooftop sounds great,once they figure out the whole ticket thing! We went to Dinosaur last summer. The food was good, unfortunately, literally as we were driving there with friends I started coming down with something so I sat there with chills, etc. I need to go back when I can appreciate it.

I had no idea that Stamford was such a dining mecca! It wasn’t too far and was a nice change of pace.

I know. JFood can tell us the good spots!

Thanks WCG

I would be cautious calling Stamford a Mecha of dining in the area, in fact I go there less often now than years ago with other towns raising the bar. Each of the restaurants below received an 10, 9 or 8 on my spread sheet (2 received a 10, 2 received a 9, and 8 received an 8) that includes over 150 Fairfield County restaurants that are currently open. I have 35 other restaurants in Stamford with lower ratings.

The current list of jfood recommended places include:

Highly Recommended:

  1. Harlan Social (my #1 recommendation)
  2. Fortina (for the pizza - The Luigi Bianco is a must have pizza)
  3. Magee’s Curbside (for breakfast)
  4. Eos (great Greek)
  5. Cotto (Great Italian)
  6. Olio (Springdale)
  7. Amore (Springdale) (Great pizza)
  8. Brasitas (East side)


  1. Dinosaur (very good BBQ but I like Hoodoo Brown better and closer)
  2. Barrel House (large scale pizza)
  3. Barcelona (fun and good tapas)
  4. Kotobuki (very good sushi)


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Thanks Jfood. I keep forgetting about Harlan Social. I’ve been meaning to try that for awhile, per your recs.

Jfood, I appreciate your expertise in the area… it’s all relative… if I had Fortina and Dino here in Ossining I would be in heaven!!! Luigi Bianco and Tenderoni are tied in my eyes, by the way! :slight_smile:

I hear ya. When we moved here 20 years ago I thought I had died and gone to crappo-foodland.

Now onto your handle…

We have a couple of TERRIFIC ice creams stand you need to try. Ferris Hill Creamery in Newtown and Rich’s Farm in Oxford. After my shoulder surgery one of my best friends brought me 22 individual 2-scoops cups to keep in my freezer as an afternoon activity from Ferris.

Yes!!! We have been to Rich Farm. I didn’t remember the name but I remembered Oxford-- home of the wonderful and eclectic OEC Brewing, another CT destination!! I got an enormous ice cream cone at Rich Farms and loved it. Will have to check out the other place you mentioned.

Wow, nice friend… I need a best friend like that! Haha!

Jfood, I would add to the Stamford recs list:

Cafe Sylvium (auththenic Italian)
F,I,S.H, (Simply grilled, delicious seafood, and $t bluepoints during Happy Hour)
Colony Grill (best bar pizza in the state)
Casey’s Tavern (best Bar Breakfast and Brunch in town)
Lakeside Cafe (only for their pancakes and cinnamon donuts)

Winecountrygirl, when you finally get to Harlan Social be sure to try one of Chris Messa’s incredible culinary cocktails.

Sounds like a plan to me!![quote=“Louuuuu, post:10, topic:4910”]
Cafe Sylvium (auththenic Italian

This place looks good. Scarpariello ON THE BONE. Yes. So many places do boneless and it’s just not the same.

Can’t really argue about Colony pizza,but it is an acquired taste,most of us (if we grew up in the ny metro area lean more towards a ny style. Colony does not try to be that and is not,but it is quite good in its own way. Fwiw,just stopped at Anthony’s coal fired (W.P.) the other night and really really enjoyed their sausage pie , to me another very good pie, but not ny style (and doesn’t try to be). I guess that’s why,to me no best pie,- it depends on the type wanted at the time.

I always hate those best pizza, best bagel threads. What’s good for one is not good for another. Some like a fat bagel, some thin and crusty, etc. Pizza is the same thing. I like thin, some like thick. People where I live think the local pizza place is the best pizza - I hate it.

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Don’t feel too bad, the closest “local” to me is an amore,I think some family relation to some of the other ones,but this one is the a very typical (read bad) slice joint- hate it,I’ve heard good things about some of the others- grass is always greener L. Btw ,if in W.P. you might like Anthony’s , despite being a chain- thin,crisp, a bit charred (some think too much), and the lunch special is a (relatively) inexpensive way to try them


Wow…you stumped me with Casey’s…never heard of it. Magee’s is just spectacular though for b’fast.

Really like Sylvium, (reminds me of Spiritos in my hometown in NJ) but the last two visits were a little off and is now a “7”. FISH I have as a “7” just something about it just does not feel right, weird vibe, not sure what it is though. Did not want to get into the pizza wars but I do have Colony as an “8”. Lakeside does have the best pancakes and I bring my own syrup .

Interesting that you omitted the one we have been disagreeing about for years, Columbus Park.


Casey’s is a find. Wonderful Irish bar, with Shamus behind the stick, and an authentic Irish B’fast that goes about a thousand calories. Thoiugh you’re not into bars, a fun place for weekend brunch, with a spacious, sunny patio. (if and when summer finally arrives) You almost forget it is bar food.

Magee’s is fast, convenient and tasty, yes, but I deduct points for the paper plates.

I don’t get to Sylvium more than once o rtwice a year because of the wait, but have never been disappointed. Resrvations during the week highly recommended. Only parties of 5 for more can reserve on Fri and Sat night, and sometimes the wait is up to an hour, with no room inside to stand. Cozy but crowded.

At first, I didn’t expect much from FISH because of its location on Bedford, the mecca of millenial al fresco dining and socializing, and hardly a culinary hot spot in town. (maybe that context contributes to what’s “off” for you) But having tried FISH before or after a film at the Avon, I think its the best seafood in Stamford. My salmon, which I like cooked pink/rare, is always done to perfection, unlike other restaurants where the chefs rarely get it right for my taste.

Their choices of sauces and sides are wonderfully paired. If this place were on the water, I think it would get accolades. But on Bedford it seems orphaned.

Colony pizza is of course Stamford Institution. Anyone interested in sampling the city’s cuisine needs to try the iconic hot oil and sausage. No intention of starting the Pizza War, especially with Fortina and the Luigi Bianca nearby,just about Local Eats.

As for Columbus Park, I still think it’s the best Italian around, but didn’t include it because your treatment there was concerning.