Something Sweet: Darien eateries compete in friendly dessert war

Dallas Rockne of Darien waits to pick up some desserts at Rory's.

Dallas Rockne of Darien waits to pick up some desserts at Rory's.

Jarret Liotta for Hearst Connecticut Media / Jarret Liotta

DARIEN — Despite the restrictions forced by the pandemic, Saturday was still a delicious day in Darien.

“Something Sweet on Tour”—the Parks and Recreation Department’s annual dessert-fest—took place amidst some drizzly weather Saturday afternoon for the fourth year.

Eight food establishments took part in the friendly “dessert war”—each sharing an in-house specialty item. Patrons were able to purchase an advance ticket and then traveled around to the different locations to pick up their treat and later vote on what they felt was the best one.

“It’s a great thing for the community and my kids love it,” said Scott Zimmerman of Darien, who joined other residents who made their stops at the different establishments, including Browne & Co., Burgers, Shakes & Fries, Darien Diner, The Goose, Heights Pizza, Michael Joseph’s, Nino’s, and Rory’s.

Jack Brennan, 9, of Darien, leaves Rory's with his dessert in hand during the Something Sweet on Tour event on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021.

Jack Brennan, 9, of Darien, leaves Rory's with his dessert in hand during the Something Sweet on Tour event on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021.

Jarret Liotta for Hearst Connecticut Media / Jarret Liotta

In an effort to keep lines moving, Jami Gore, program supervisor, and her Parks & Rec staff distributed “sweet packets” from Town Hall between 12:30 and 1 p.m., after which participants had two hours to make the rounds.

“This is an effort to create a floating attendance at each establishment for COVID,” she said, “but also will just create a better experience for the participants in general if we avoid long lines.”

“It’s kind of fun,” said parent Dallas Rockne of Darien, who found a short line at Rory’s to pick up some flourless chocolate mousse cake.

“We’re doing it with a bunch of kids,” she said, “so it’s nice to get out.”

“I think any event where can just cater to our town and people can pop in, if they’ve never been here before, is great,” said Laura Stansfield, assistant manager with Rory’s.

Some of the 300 orders of baklava that were handed out at the Darien Diner as part of the Something Sweet on Tour event on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021.

Some of the 300 orders of baklava that were handed out at the Darien Diner as part of the Something Sweet on Tour event on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021.

Jarret Liotta for Hearst Connecticut Media / Jarret Liotta

She and Fiona Malcarney, daughter of the restaurant’s owner, were buys in a tent outside handing out desserts, but also proudly displaying the trophy they won in last year’s contest.

Results of this year weren’t due to be released until early this week, but she said they were hoping for a repeat win.

“We make all of our desserts here, except for our key lime pie,” Stansfield said.

Next door at Nino’s Restaurant, 300 dishes of tiramisu were outside waiting for pickup.

“It’s homemade,” explained Mimma Califano, co-owner. “We make it here on the premises.”

Like other establishments, she said the contest is a chance for people to discover their place, which only last year moved into town following 48 years in Stamford.

“I think it’s a great opportunity,” she said.

“It’s good exposure,” agreed Olga Giapoutzis, co-owner of the Darien Diner.

“It’s also kind of fun the way they did it this year,” she said, proudly pointing out the 300 orders of homemade baklava she helped make for the event.

“We make all our desserts,” she said. “Plus a lot of people who don’t know we exist can come in and try something.”

“I think it’s amazing,” Lilya Zilber of Darien said of the event while waiting to pickup her desserts.

“I feel like with the coronavirus and the whole pandemic, with this you can do something different,” she said, “especially in the wintertime.”

Ultimately, Browne & Co. took top honors with their s’mores cake pops. In second place, Burgers, Shakes & Fries won out with their classic brownie & shake shot. In third place, a tie for Michael Joseph’s with their Everything Cookie and Rory’s with their flourless chocolate mousse cake.

Gore said the contest had two “firsts” with this year’s results.

“We have a repeat winner for the first time with Browne & Co. and we also have our first tie. With 250 votes being cast, the everything cookie and the flourless chocolate mousse cake received the exact same amount to tie for third place! All of the desserts received plenty of votes of course as they were all absolutely delicious,” Gore said.