Established as a master wine sommelier, cultured Portuguese entrepreneur, Nelson Veiga, opened upscale bistro 1249 Winebar and its neighboring The Good Life Wine & Spirit shop in Waterbury during January 2012. Beguiled by the onslaught of craft beverages and authentic foods inducing health-conscious post-millenial savants, Veiga totally embraced the bourgeoning spirits and culinary revolution. Besides 1249 Winebar’s exquisite wine menu and locally sourced cuisine, the heavenly hotspot also serves many of Connecticut’s best microbrews on tap or in bottle.
Residing at the fifth largest industrial city in the Constitution State, this fabulous earth-toned gastropub (southwest of Hartford) features a tucked-in 8-seat main bar, elegant dining room (with slate-walled panel, leather-backed booths and wine racks), quaint second-floor Sky Bar martini lounge and black-trellised front patio.
On my initial post-noon February ’14 visit, my wife and I grab a booth near the pristine maroon-hued left wall to try a few previously untried ales alongside wonderful hand-prepared food. Cicerone-certified beer manager, Liz Pliska, comes by to offer her services while lounge Jazz plays in the background. Six upstairs taps and three downstairs taps provide fresh local suds to the growing crowd of families, friends and aged hipsters. Homemade pasta and burgers, bakery-fresh bread, a raw bar, Echo Farms veggies and artisanal desserts satiate a wide variety of good tastes.
We share the 1249 Frittata (eggs with mushrooms, peppers, onions and bacon) and Bita A Portuguesa (steak with poached egg, potatoes, prosciutto ham and wine-sauced burgundy reduction) while getting acquainted with a few hungry destination-bound out-of-towners.
On tap, Greenwich-based 1757 GW Beer (based on George Washington’s original pale ale recipe) brought light caramel toasting to honey-spiced grassy hops for a light-bodied opener. Afterwards, I settle into Narragansett Autocrat Coffee Milk Stout (which combines Natty’s bittersweet stout with Autocrat coffee). Its brusque barley-roasted hop char embitters lactose-sugared black chocolate and cappuccino coffee tones quite efficiently.
Before leaving, I stop next store at The Good Life to pick up more local brews for home consumption.