Westporters share what they love most about their town
portrait by bruce plotkin, makeup by nafeesah hope
A town like Westport means different things to different people—a waterfront oasis an hour outside of Manhattan; a small town where one can walk into an old-school deli and know everyone in line; a sophisticated suburb where top restaurants, theaters, and arts venues coexist with down-home farmers’ markets, music festivals, and street fairs. What does Westport mean to you? We asked a cross section of well-known people who live or work in Westport to share some of their favorite places in town and what makes living here special. Their answers remind us just how lucky we are to call Westport home.
Mike and Stacy Greenberg
ESPN show host and style maven
Mike and Stacy Steponate Greenberg are the quintessential Westport couple. He’s a sportscaster at ESPN who cohosts the Mike & Mike in the Morning show, and she’s a luxury hotel marketing consultant and a contributor to Pursuitist.com, a luxe-lifestyle website. They live in town with kids, Nikki, twelve, and Stephen, ten, and say that there’s no place like Westport to call home.
When Mike needs to blows off steam he takes his bike for a spin around Compo Beach. “There isn’t a prettier or more serene skyline in Fairfield County,” he says. “When I build up an appetite, I’ll ride across Compo Road to the Post Road, directly to Organic Market (285 Post Rd. E. ) for a shot of wheatgrass and a ridiculously delicious, healthy lunch. My favorite is on Wednesdays, when Maggie makes the chicken wraps. And then, if the stress is getting to me, I head to Sun Reflexology (1535 Post Rd.) which is heaven in a reclining chair.”
Stacy, a working mom, finds her bliss at Saraswati’s Yoga Joint (1 Wall St., Norwalk). “I practice two or three times a week with Sarah McGrath, but all the instructors are terrific. And you might find me getting a manicure at Westport Nails [221 Post Rd. W.],” she says. “I almost gave birth to my son in the pedicurist chair!”
The stylish duo also loves the shopping options in Westport. Mike says: “Nothing is more fun than sharing M&M’s with Bill Mitchell.”
Stacy adds, “Mitchells [670 Post Rd. E.] is at the top of my list, too…as is Henry Lehr [21 Main St.], where the selection is classic cool.” For the best fit, a good tailor is a godsend. Stacy swears by Bae at Bae’s Tailor (1775 Post Rd. E.) across from Stop & Shop and Donovan at Westport Cleaners (391 Post Rd. E.) because “both understand the importance of keeping the original hem on jeans!” Best cobbler: Westfair Shoe Repair (1783 Post Rd. E.), because “George knows how to save my favorite shoes!”
Despite all of upscale dining choices, Mike jokes, “The best thing about raising kids in Westport is the Sherwood Diner [901 Post Rd. E.], where our kids would gladly eat three meals a day. Also, Sakura [680 Post Rd. E.], where Nikki and Stephen know each of the hibachi chefs well enough to describe the nuances of their technique.” For date night, Pane e Bene (1620 Post Rd. E.) is their hands-down favorite. Mike calls it, “The best addition to the local restaurant scene in all the years we have lived in town. Angelo is the ultimate host, and the food is wonderful. We also love Via Sforza (243 Post Rd. W.), which we sometimes call our ‘second kitchen.’ ”
Stacy says, “I always say my son’s hair color validates me, but who are we kidding? It’s all Ron Ahern, best colorist—and spring for a keratin treatment, both at Dream Spa (1220 Post Rd. E.). The two are the perfect hair combo!”
The couple’s favorite local cause? “Anything having to do with cancer research,” says Mike.
Director, Westport Farmers’ Market
Lori Cochran is a Westport fixture, particularly on Thursdays, when you’ll find her walking the market’s riverfront parking lot on Imperial Avenue, greeting food producers and sampling organic tamales, artisanal breads and locally grown honeys.
The Westport Farmers’ Market, now in its seventh year of operation and a beloved local institution, was initially launched in the parking lot of The Dressing Room restaurant, by the late, great Paul Newman and Chef Michel Nischan, who wanted better access to local food. A visit to the market is as much about connecting people as it is to connecting people to their food. “Nothing beats the opportunity to ask the grower or preparer how they produced the food,” Cochran says. “We have created a community focused on supporting our neighbors and our local food system.” Now a thriving nonprofit with a growing list of organic local vendors, WFM (Westport Town Farm) has sprouted a winter market at Gilbertie’s Herb Gardens (7 Sylvan Ln.) and created a range of vital community partnerships. In one, the market supplies the Staples High School Culinary Team with local, farm-fresh ingredients, which the students then cook and serve to recipients at the Gillespie Center (45 Jesup Rd.). The market also started an RSA (Restaurant Supported Agriculture), which helps local restaurants purchase food from local farmers and has a host of educational programs in the works.
Cochran’s other go-to venue for local, sustainable fare is leFarm (256 Post Rd.). “It has a great ambience, the coffee is high-octane and the service is great. I can read a magazine, catch up on e-mails or just enjoy the cup of coffee, she says. “It’s also hard to beat the Dressing Room and The Whelk [575 Riverside Ave.]. For lunch, I enjoy Terrain and think the southern flavors are fun, and Tarry Lodge has several items on its menu that are sourced locally and reckon a craving or two from this gal. For a quick bite, I often venture to Saugatuck Craft Butchery [575 Riverside Ave.] for a few slices of cheese and charcuterie, which I enjoy while overlooking the river. When I am looking to buy local food beyond Thursday, I like Speckled Rooster and Belta Farms, both located on Bayberry Lane.”
Cochran also volunteers to walk dogs at the Connecticut Humane Society (455 Post Rd.). She says, “It is a quiet welcoming place, not to mention there is always a wagging tail to greet you, excited for the attention.”
Author, Correspondent, and TV Host
David Pogue is Westport’s very own tech marvel—a New York Times technology columnist and host of NOVA scienceNOW on PBS, a best-selling author, and a correspondent for CBS Sunday Morning since 2002. He lives in Westport with his wife and three kids.
Where can a Westporter turn for help with his or her gadgets and gizmos (especially with no Mac store in sight!), and where can one go for a fun techie experience? Pogue’s eyes light up as he says, “The library, man! The [Westport Public] library. Not only is it good, fast, free WiFi—even when the power’s out everywhere else in town—but the library’s been embracing the tech segment with the Maker Faire, the new Maker Space, and regular tech events. Once the renovation happens, wow, you won’t be able to keep us techies away!”
When he’s looking to take his own kids out for a scientific exploration and some creativity, he finds plenty to do in our area. “We’re family members of the Maritime Museum [10 N. Water St., Norwalk],” he says. “We go maybe three times a year. And when the kids were younger, we got a lot of mileage out of the Stepping Stones Children’s Museum [300 West Ave., Norwalk], too. Every now and then, the Discovery Museum [4450 Park Ave., Bridgeport] comes up with a great exhibit, too, and we’ll spend a free and easy afternoon prowling that weird, wonderful building.”
Although known as a science and tech guru, Pogue is a serious musical theater buff. “We Westporters are lucky enough to call New York City ‘local’! So we do a fair amount of jaunting in for a show. We also go to the Webster Bank Arena [600 Main St., Bridgeport] fairly often: shows, circuses, performances. It’s just crazy how close it is, how easy it is to get in and out—and these are big, national tours,” he says. “Every now and then, the Westport Country Playhouse puts on something that’s family friendly. But, by far, our most joyous theater outings are to the Staples Players high school musicals. We haven’t missed a single show since we moved to Westport in 2004! The talent, direction, and production values of those shows are high. Scary high. We love us those Staples Players!”
From the theater program to the Robotics Club at Staples, Westport’s emphasis on intellectually and artistically stimulating programs for youth comes as no surprise to Pogue. He says, “I’d expect nothing less of a town that’s populated by brainiacs, overachievers, and world-shapers. I kind of love that among all the bankers and CEOs, a subculture of fellow nerds are quietly thriving and having a great time.”
To unplug, Pogue heads out for a sail. He says, “My life changed when I discovered the sailboat rentals at Longshore [Sailing School]…We don’t have to worry about maintenance, setup, cleaning, we just show up and sail.”
His favorite spot is Compo Beach. “There’s nothing like the peace that falls at the end of a day, when the sun sets, the crowds take their little ones home to bed, and it feels like you’re at the edge of the world.”
To read the complete Insider's Guide pick up the January/February 2013 issue of Westport magazine.