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I Love the (Wilton) Nightlife!

Like the towering flames and the hundreds of glittery pink lights outside Cactus Rose’s façade, there’s a bright spot lighting up our town’s center.

I’ve got this quirky bad habit, nothing major, but my husband and friends laugh at me when I do it.

When referring to any trip into Wilton’s town center, I sometimes call it “going downtown.

Wilton may be a lot of things, but the town that claims it’s still a “semi-rural village” doesn’t exactly have a ‘downtown.’

Over the last several years, there have been store openings and closings; national chains and mom-and-pops alike have come and gone; and cutesy boutiques have popped up next to sleepy roadside antique shops.

But suddenly, there’s a new phenomenon seen in these parts unlike anything I’ve seen before within our town limits: Standing Room Only.

In the last two months since it opened, Cactus Rose has been swarmed with couples on date nights, families, girls’ nights out, cute couples out on first dates, and…wait for it…people who don’t live in Wilton.

And with Bianco Rosso, the hip new pizza and wine bar that opened just a few doors down on Old Ridgefield Rd., it’s the closest Wilton has come to a “Restaurant Row” in years.

Doesn’t that phrase just make just make you tingle?

I haven’t yet been to our town’s new Italian in-spot but I have savored a few meals at the Cactus Rose cantina. I know I’m not the only patron who has enjoyed it because it’s often really hard to get a table. Thank goodness they have a space where you can sit and wait until your table is ready. I know it’s something we’re not that familiar with here in Wilton, but it’s something people elsewhere call a “bar.”

Now that we do have one (that serves muy buena margaritas) it’s often packed late into the evening.  Perhaps people are coming because Cactus Rose offers something new on the scene. Maybe it’s because the space has a little flair and zing—the open kitchen framed with flame-red walls and yellow and orange mosaics give the place a fast-moving feel that matches the beat-beat-beat pulse of the music.

But people seem to stay for the food; for the most part I’ve heard mostly excited raves, and I’ve enjoyed just about everything I’ve tried there. Above all, their guacamole is spectacular. Just the right amount of cilantro and lime zest and it’s a must-order every time. (I even order an extra helping to go at the end of the meal, I can’t resist!)

I’ve eaten there with my parents, my husband and kids, and my girlfriends. We’ve shared appetizers, tasted new dishes and enjoyed the service. Owner Katerina Pertesis has always greeted us warmly and makes sure the kids are happy. Contrary to what some people think, they do have a kids menu, offering kids’ sized portions of their steak, chicken breast and quesadillas—just ask.

We’ve eaten well each time we’ve been there. I’m not usually a fan of seafood with cheese, but the lobster quesadilla was pretty amazing. We loved the smokey seafood cocktail—tangy and nicely spicy—and have generally liked almost everything we’ve ordered, including truly sinful desserts, like the oh-my-god-I-need-to-take-a-moment quatro leche cake (sp. mention crunchy pepper jelly doughnuts, my next addiction waiting to happen).

Our only complaint? I wish they’d put a basket of chips and salsa on the table after patrons are seated. It certainly wouldn’t be cheesy—something tells me Executive Chef Lisa Varnberg would never let the house salsa be anything but out of this world—and it would go a long way to making everyone feel even more right at home.

Speaking of which, I can’t wait for balmier days—that outdoor patio and fireplace look like the place to be, watching the sun set over a delish margarita. Salud!

Cactus Rose, 5 River Road, Wilton 203.762.8484

Eustace Tilley January 31, 2012 at 01:17 AM
HB & Family: Keep on keeping your chin up...life is good and it even gets better.
EMR January 31, 2012 at 01:22 AM
i guess it's ebb and tide with the nightlife. we are on the upswing now....
Heather Borden Herve January 31, 2012 at 01:28 AM
thanks, Ed. It's much appreciated!
Kenneth J. Dartley January 31, 2012 at 05:19 PM
Perhaps people would be happier with " DUSK LIFE"
Steve March 08, 2012 at 07:08 PM
My wife and I have eaten there and find the food to be OK and the price high. I won't be going back and I try to support the locals - I am looking forward to Portofinos coming back. I also really like Bianco Rosso - that place will make it. HRH - I enjoy reading your articles

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