Located on Rte. 7 just over the Norwalk-Wilton border in the Town Line Plaza, The Dilly Duck Shop puts a fresh and modern twist on a classic New England eatery. Chef-owner, Russ Zappala, is no stranger to the restaurant world after working at The Homestead Inn’s Thomas Henkelmann in Greenwich, La Crémaillère in Banksville, NY, and La Panetiere in Rye, NY to name a few. He grew up in Weston, CT and now resides with his wife and 5-year-old daughter in Wilton, drawn in by what he says is the “tight-knit quality” of the community.
Russ co-owns the restaurant with his mother, Phyllis Zappala, his “culinary inspiration” and says she has been amazing to work alongside given her long work history in customer service and human resources. Anyone that walks through the door will surely be welcomed with the utmost courtesy and kindness by Russ and Phyllis.
The restaurant opened last October and the Zappalas an effort to open softly with an absence of heavy advertising or marketing, mainly to ensure that, “we are satisfying the needs of the neighborhood, before we grow bigger in scale and volume,” explains Russ. The goal was to create a space that is “part of the food and entertainment conversation for Norwalk, Wilton, and Fairfield County overall. That was always in the back of my mind throughout my entire cooking career, to create something that was special to me and hopefully special to the people that are important to me,” he says.
The Dilly Duck Shop serves up a variety of undoubtedly palate-pleasing food. Russ explains that culinarily it is “the diversity of cultures and ideas that are represented right here that are most inspiring as a chef.” His cultural inspiration is clearly reflected through his menu, whether it be the Italian influenced caprese sandwich, the asian inspired orange ginger salad, or the incorporation of Middle Eastern flavors with the hummus and falafel platter.
Without hesitation, Russ revealed that his favorite item on the menu is the in-house rotisserie-roasted pork sandwich. “My family is Italian, so it’s a subtle nod to the roast pork sandwich that represents Italian Americans. Not only special to me, but people seem to love it as well, so I am very proud of it,” he says. The shop also has a delectable selection of house made baked goods from the yuzu pineapple macaroon, and the papaya coconut raisin muffin, to their signature chocolate chip cookies and cornbread.
Of course complimenting their tasty food with an equally delicious beverage is a must. The Dilly Duck Shop offers coffee, espressos, beers, and assorted iced drinks like the refreshing lemon spritz with fresh squeezed lemon, mint syrup, and seltzer on ice. Nearly every item is made from scratch and if not, it is sourced locally. Their espresso and medium roast come from BonJo Coffee Roasters in Stamford, their dark roast hails from Saccuzzo Coffee in Newington, and their sodas are sourced from Foxon Park in East Haven. Aside from that, Russ acquires produce from local farmers’ markets and breads from Wave Hill Breads in Norwalk.
If you’re in a hurry as New Englanders often are, you can order ahead for take-out or graze their grab-and-go case. For anyone who prefers to take a moment to sit and savor some delectable bites, then the bright, charming, and clean space adorned with some delightful duck decor is ideal for just that.
Curious about the unique name of the shop?
“I believe that the duck serves as a good representation of New England, in that we work hard and are industrious,” Russ says. Dilly, on the other hand, is an Old English word meaning the best of something, an aspect that comes into play because “we also have a sense of flamboyancy and pride underneath it all,” he says. Russ believes that the witty name allows for “everyone to take ownership because once you open a restaurant, it’s no longer yours, but it’s really the customers. They are going to drive what you serve and how you meet their needs.”
For menu and additional information about The Dilly Duck Shop, please visit them online or stop in at 666 Main Avenue, in Norwalk.