- Courtesy of Cider house BBQ and Pub
When Cider House BBQ & Pub owners Tom Sullivan and Jimmy Dotson closed their Waterbury restaurant in October, they announced via Facebook that the new owners should have the place up and running again in November.
But if wishes were horses, then beggars would ride, and when chef Daniel Nguyen took over the 100-year-old building at 1675 Route 2, he realized that renovations would take time. He decided to wait to open Dally's at the Cider House until January 2016.
Nguyen graduated from the New England Culinary Institute and spent most of the past four years cooking at Sweetwaters in Burlington. Though he's still working on his new menu, the Essex native says he'll serve "American bistro" fare, as he did at his most recent place of employ. With one major addition: lots of pasta.
While Waterbury is home to a handful of pizza joints, few area restaurants specialize in Italian-style noodles, Nguyen says. The chef hopes to capitalize on the carbohydrate deficit by offering heaps of spaghetti and meatballs and (perhaps) housemade ravioli and other specialty dishes, all prepared in the old-world styles he learned at NECI.
But don't call Dally's an Italian joint. Nguyen plans to augment his noodles with classic American comfort foods such as meatloaf and pot pie, along with a few French-inspired dishes including a pancetta-sprinkled frisée salad dressed in mustard vinaigrette and topped with a poached egg, after the classic salade Lyonnaise.
"These are things people don't do anymore," he says. "When I was coming up, the chefs would always tell me to 'try and do something different,' so that's what this is."
Initially, bartenders will pour wine and beer — including flagship Vermont suds from Switchback Brewing and Long Trail Brewing — and some nonalcoholic options, such as a traditional Vietnamese "salty lemonade" made with preserved lemons and a touch of salt.
Though the menu will diverge from the Cider House's past incarnation, Nguyen hopes to keep a sense of continuity with the erstwhile pub. "This area got hit really hard by Irene," he says. "And a lot of businesses went under with that. The old owners did a lot for this building and this community, and I wanted to pay homage to that."