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The Insider's Guide

Eight locals share favorite Stamford shops, eateries, Ways to Give, must-do’s, bars and fun facts totalling 125+ personal picks



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Lynne Colatrella

Stamford Downtown

Though the skyline, population and prominence of her native city have reached new heights, Lynne Colatrella says Stamford has always been anchored by a sense of community and civic life. “My grandparents came from Italy and at that time, people helped each other,” recalls Lynne, who is vice president of events and marketing for Stamford Downtown. “In those days, it was [neighbors helping neighbors.] In this city now, we are involved in every neighborhood.”

A 1974 Rippowam High grad who cofounded Curtain Call, Lynne lives in the Vine Road home of her childhood and is active in arts, philanthropy, education and politics. To her, Stamford’s master plan was created so that the city “doesn’t become a big-box corridor. I think it’s allowed the community to stay more intimate.”

As an example, Lynne points to the first block of Bedford Street north of Broad—a retail hub in her childhood that lost business after the mall opened but has recently launched a comeback. “It’s the restaurants and bars that really brought the street back to life, and now there’s some beautiful retail,” including Russ Hollander Master Goldsmith (“He has a workshop and makes gorgeous handmade jewelry”), Fleet Feet Sports and Fernando Luis Alvarez Gallery. “If you go out on any warm afternoon or evening, it’s really an incredible feeling out there, with all the nightlife and young people that come here,” she says.

Neighboring mom-and-pops, including Lynne’s go-to amenity, the venerable Wolfe’s Cleaners, reinforces the street fair atmosphere. At the mall is Hakky Instant Shoe Repair, which she has been known to use for a quick fix. Lynne stays downtown to get her hair done at Salon Shahin, and although she’s driving a new Volvo now, she depends on the A&K Gulf on Newfield for auto repairs.

Asked for a single snapshot in the city that captures the spirit of Stamford, Lynne points to the crowd at the Parade Spectacular; because strong winds grounded the balloons last year, those who lined the streets found new appreciation for the talent on the ground, including the Locust Performing Arts Center and Center Stage Dance Studio dancers, and Stamford's high school bands.

The parade route passes Summer Street mainstay Dairy Queen, and Lynne remembers when fall and spring were defined by DQ’s opening and closing. Due west is another Stamford fixture and Colatrella family favorite, Pellicci’s, where she will order the Gorgonzola and cheese pizza on a Friday night. “You see everybody you grew up with. You see Anthony, and he’s been there forever.”


Ernest Lamour

Stamford Family YMCA

After arriving in Stamford from Haiti when he was eight, Ernest Lamour recalls, his father allowed him to go to just three places in the city: church, school and the YMCA. “My Creole is still good but my French is comme ci, comme ça,” says Ernest, now thirty-four and the CEO of that same Y (officially the Stamford Family YMCA.)

Or maybe not quite the same. Since taking the reins in 2010, Ernest has led an effort to take the Stamford institution, then deeply in debt and facing closure or relocation, and refocus its mission on programming and making it a safe haven for Stamford youth.

The change represents a giving back for Ernest, whose path in Stamford—from Davenport Ridge, Turn of River and Westhill High (class of ’98), to Southern Connecticut State University and the University of West Virginia—has been lighted by caring, vigilant adults. “I’ve had some impactful people in my life, people who really saw the best in me and pushed me to do better in life, not just on a ball field or court,” he recalls.

Ernest’s strategy at the Y focuses in part on partnerships, such as a new initiative with Stamford Hospital, in which a nutritionist meets with Y children twice a week to discuss healthy eating, while a Y personal trainer covers fitness and exercise.

According to Ernest, it’s one of several program-specific options for Stamford youth. There’s also the Locust Performing Arts Center. Owner Jimmy Locust’s “love of music and how he treats children of all ages that come through his studio is amazing,” says Ernest, who also points to the Boys & Girls Club of Stamford and Chester Addison Community Center, the latter now run by Domus and overseen by Mike Duggan. “He is one of my mentors and someone I can talk to about anything,” Ernest says. “What Domus does is beyond anything else that the Stamford community can offer. They pretty much get the kids that the Stamford Public schools [can’t help] and educate them, at times feed them and clothe them.”

One program that Ernest calls a gem is the Stamford Peace Basketball Club. “It’s an in-house basketball training program that is just terrific. The emphasis is not on basketball itself—playing is a privilege—it’s on how you treat your peers and family.”

The city’s Recreation Department brings varied sports offerings too, he adds. Programs such as Orcas Swimming at the Italian Center or Sharks Swimming at Westhill—or tennis lessons at Chelsea Piers—bring together Stamford’s public and private school children in an atmosphere that strengthens bonds.

One long-term goal of Ernest’s is to help prepare all Stamford kids for the Young Mariners Foundation sailing program by teaching them how to swim at the Y. “That’s my next mission, to make sure that we’re doing it individually and working with partners to teach each public-school child how to swim.”

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Stamford Agenda

  • Opening of Amore Cucina & Bar

    2015.01.26

    Amore Cucina & Bar, presented by 5-Time World Pizza Champion Bruno DiFabio, is a neighborhood Italian restaurant which combines old school...

  • The Loft Artists Gallery presents "Roads and Bridges"

    2015.01.03

    “Roads and Bridges” LOFT ARTISTS STUDIOS + GALLERIES 575 Pacific Street, Stamford, CT 06902 www.loftartists.com 203 247 2027...

  • Franklin Street Works Presents: “About Like So: The Influence of Painting”

    2014.11.22

    Stamford, CT  - “About Like So: The Influence of Painting” is a group exhibition that explores how the histories, forms,...

  • OUTDOOR ADVENTURES: Nocturnal in Nature

    2015.01.30

    Explore the world of nature at night and learn about the adaptations of nocturnal animals. Meet live nocturnal creatures and then head out on the...

  • Play At Alive @ 5

    2015.01.15

    Stamford Downtown is currently accepting applications from bands interested in playing at Alive@Five and Jazz Up July,  two premier outdoor...

  • Crab Shell CELEBRATING 25 YEARS

    2015.01.15

    CELEBRATING 25 YEARS!! 1989 MENU & PRICES OCTOBER THRU MARCH MONDAY - THURSDAY Happy Hour 4pm - 7pm $5 Wines by the GLASS, BEER &...

  • JCC Sara Walker Nursery School Registration

    2014.08.11

    Registration for the 2014/15 school Our Nursery School programs are designed to help children learn in an interactive and playful way while...

  • FAll 2014 Semester beginning - Ballet School of Stamford

    2014.09.15

    Our Fall semester begins on September 15th in our beautiful studios at Old Town Hall in Stamford. We offer classes for children age 3 to 18. Our...

  • Stamford Museum & Nature Center Facility Use

    2015.01.02

    January 2 - December 31, After 5pm For a truly unique and memorable venue, host your event or meeting on the picturesque 118-acre former estate...

  • Middle School Laser Tag

    2015.01.31

    Compete against your friends in the ultimate laser tag battle of the year. Snacks will be provided. Member $10 / Community $15. For more...

  • GARRICK OHLSSON RECITAL

    2015.01.31

    World Renowned Pianist Garrick Ohlsson will perform selections of Prokofiev, Rachmaninoff and Scriabin at the Stamford’s Palace...

  • Winter Farm Letterboxing Trail

    2015.02.01

    February 1 - February 28, Mon-Sat. 9 am - 5 pm; Sunday 11 am - 5 pm Get rid of the winter blues by participating in our new farm letterboxing...

  • Sunday Explorers

    2014.12.07

    Sundays, December 7 - February 22, 1 - 4 pm. (no class 12/21 & 12/28) Winter is a great time to explore the Stamford Museum & Nature...

  • TuB’shevat-Shanahnah With Sandi

    2015.02.03

    For children ages 6 months - 2 years and their parents or caregivers Celebrate a whole year of holidays with the JCC Sara Walker Nursery School...

  • Documentary Night: PELICAN DREAMS

    2015.02.04

    The Avon Theatre, Audubon Connecticut & Stamford Land Conservation Trust Present Documentary Night   PELICAN DREAMS  ...

  • Chocolate & Dessert Wine Lover's Evening

    2015.02.05

    An evening to benefit Shelter for the Homeless "The Ultimate Tasting Experience" Savory samples, tapas, and door prizes with over...

  • Sid the Science Kid

    2015.02.06

    Sid, Gabriela, Gerald and May invite you and your family to join them as they take an incredible journey through the five senses: sight, sound,...

  • Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus

    2015.02.07

    When Mars and Venus collide, the adventures are earth-shatteringly hysterical! “THE HIT SHOW!” starring PETER STORY Based on the...

  • FTMA Talk Back Series: THE PLAYER

    2015.02.11

    The Avon Theatre and Sacred Heart University Present   The FTMA Talk Back Series   Part 1 of “Making Moview”...

  • French Cinematheque: HIROSHIMA MON AMOUR

    2015.02.12

    The Avon Theatre and the Alliance Francaise of Greenwich present   HIROSHIMA MON AMOUR   Directed by Alain Resnais  ...


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