dining
0
0
0
Departments

 

0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0

Please select an itemTOWN


According to the town’s official history, Branford was acquired from the Mattabesec Indians in 1638, when the New Haven Colony traded “eleven coats of trucking cloth and one coat of English cloth” for an expanse of land they called Totokett — or Tidal River. Six years later, the first permanent settlement was established by homesteaders from Wethersfield, who promptly renamed the town Branford after the town of Brentford in England.

Since then, a lot has changed. But the sign commemorating Branford’s founding is clear that “much of its historical heritage remains in the form of old buildings and well-preserved villages” — and it’s true. From the village center to such enclaves as Branford Point, Stony Creek, Short Beach, and Pine Orchard, Branford offers its charms in neat little easy-to-explore packages, each with its own character and personality for which the residents express abiding affection.

The hub of town life is, of course, Branford Center and its green, which dates back to 1699. Here, visitors meet regularly for concerts, fairs, and such annual events as the Branford Festival, held every Father’s Day weekend since 1985. And surrounding the green are historic buildings, including the town hall, an ancient academy, three 19th-century churches, and a tablet marking the site where ten clergymen met in 1701 to create the first library of Yale University — as well as a some not-so-historic but very cool clothing boutiques, ethnic markets, and restaurants.

There’s Billy’s Pasta Cosi, routinely applauded for its fresh sauces and noodles; Darbar of India, well known for its luncheon buffets; and Le Petit Café, popular statewide for its high-echelon French cuisine. And across the green is Ashley’s Ice Cream, where you’ll get the best scoop in town.

This is also where you’ll find a link to Route 146, the scenic highway that traces the coastline through Pine Orchard and Indian Neck, and Montowese Street, which slips under the railroad trestle and crosses the causeway over the Branford River. At Indian Neck, Montowese swings eastward along the shore, and just before that turn is Lenny’s Indian Head Inn, a restaurant with awesome marsh views and legendary fresh seafood. Nearby is Bud’s Fish Market, which is always happy to provide take-home delights — including lobsters. And if your taste buds are calling for something more complex, give 9 East Hibachi & Asian Kitchen a try.

A detour onto Linden Avenue leads to the Owenego Inn, the last of Branford’s summer hotels, with its 500 feet of direct waterfront providing sweeping views of the Sound.

Out on 146, the coastal route heads eastward through Pine Orchard to Stony Creek, where a peek into the backyards reveals lobster traps and boat trailers, faded buoys, and the occasional fishing net draped to dry on a fence — all imparting a sense of New England’s nautical past and the time-honored work of trawling for nourishment from the Sound. Indeed, Stony Creek’s history abounds with tales of quarry life, pirates, and the romance of the sea, but today the village is mostly known for its Yankee charm — and its islands. Named for the thimbleberries that once flourished on them, the more than 100 Thimbles, only 32 of which are inhabited, are the largest group of islands on the Sound. Sightseeing businesses have developed to take tourists to see the islands, all of which are held in private hands.

West of Branford Center is Short Beach, bordered on the west by the East Haven River and beautiful Granite Bay on the east — the Sound side. Around the eastern shore of Granite Bay on Harbor Street is the town dock and Parker Memorial Park at Branford Point, a 12-acre park that has a beach and a pier for both fishing and watching the maritime traffic at the Harborview overlook.

Al Ferreira Photo