Phil’s Grill opened last week in the Noroton Heights section of Darien amid a flurry of press so I took a road trip to check out this new entry into the diner scene. Located on the western end of Heights Road, local donut shop owner Phil Santomassi and his wife have done a great job in decorating their new restaurant space that includes seating for thirty at tables, four four-person booths plus seven high seats along the window overlooking the entrance. As the warm weather arrives additional seating will become available on their terrace. Phil seats everyone at their tables and wanders from table to table socializing with the customers. There are three large screen TVs that were televising the Ranger-Flyer, Yankee-Tiger games plus the PBA tournament on a lazy Sunday afternoon.
The menu contains over forty different choices including hamburgers, hot dogs, salads, sandwiches, plus dinner entrees, a bit ambitious for a first time entry into the diner scene. I noticed that many groups ordered the family-sized nachos, the Kobe beef sliders, a few salads and several orders of the fried chicken. The portions can best be described as substantial. When Phil stopped at my table and sat for a quick chat (he did so at almost every table) he indicated that the menu will be pared over the next few weeks to be more manageable .
I ordered the “All American” that included a hamburger, cheese, bacon and red onion on a roll plus French fries, a side order of onion rings, plus a chocolate shake. An early read on the food found the daily house cut French fries very good and the onion rings were tasty. I was surprised that the 8-ounce burger, delivered fresh and pre-formed from NJ, was small and wondered whether it was a full half-pound of meat but enjoyed the Beldotti’s supplied hamburger rolls. The burgers were prepared over a flame grill which allowed for some nice charring flavor, but the staff is still working on the doneness consistency. The menu is not inexpensive, the cost for my All American, a shake and onion rings was over $20 plus tip, expensive compared to other diner burgers.
Like all recently opened diners, Phil’s is working through opening week kinks. It is definitely a neighborhood haunt; as each party left, they stopped to shake Phil’s hand, and thanked him for the new spot in their neighborhood. On its first Friday it served almost 300 hamburgers and the staff returned for the weekend, always a good sign. I may return in a few months to see how Phil modifies the menu and works through the normal opening kinks.