CT Farm to Table Restaurants: Market Place Kitchen & Bar

Hey All! Here goes it! My first blog post for The Dizzy Diner: Adventures of a Dizzy Dining Dame! That’s me, Meg, who happens to be the happy dizzy dame in the little logo you will see here on all my photographs and blog!  I am very excited to be finally realizing a goal of mine and embarking on this journey, sharing with all of you my dining adventures. I am one who is rarely, if ever, in the mood to cook. Being that I am a single mom of two beautiful sprites, ages 6 and 8, and the owner of a full-service wedding photography studio, Creative Image Collections, as well as my newborn photography studio, Sleepy Bean Studio, I have little time to get creative in the kitchen. I often get discouraged when dinner time approaches, already exhausted from my full days. Oy vey! The life of a parent is non-stop. With this as my reason, { Trust me! I have done my share of justifying my habit of eating out }, I have become quite the ‘foodie’. In becoming quite obsessed with my ventures, I figured…’What the heck?!’ If I am going to dine out as much as I do,  then why not write about it? Why not photograph the food as well? After all, I am a photographer.

One might think this is something new for me, but in fact, while photographing at The News-Times in Danbury, well before I ventured off on my own to grow my wedding and newborn photography business, I found myself loving all the restaurant feature assignments the most. Even though it was back then that I found my enjoyment for photographing food, I never explored it enough to put my dining experiences into motion and good use. Mostly this was due to the hustle and bustle of every day life, being a single parent and having to do what was necessary to pay the bills and put food on the table. However, as my business flourished, I was able to afford to keep up my lifestyle of dining out up for enough time in order to spark my passion once again and light the fire under my butt to finally nurture and, forgive me for the pun, feed my soul with my new quirky little on-line food journal that I have begun. This is nothing that at the moment I am compensated for,but rather for pure enjoyment and in hopes to meet some fantastically talented chefs and restaurant owners, as well as learn more about food in general. I hope you enjoy tagging along on my dining adventure and learn just as much as I do along the way!

Now! Enough about me! Let’s talk about Market Place Kitchen & Bar! It’s my first recorded adventure and I couldn’t have put this thing into motion with a better establishment than this! It’s simply, as the Italian’s would say, Magnifico’!

Market Place Kitchen & Bar owner, Eli Hawli, has opened up his third restaurant in Danbury, CT. Hawli, who also owns sister restaurants 189 Sports Cafe in Brookfield, CT {the old Chris’s Restaurant, or as some would remember it way back in the day…Fiddlers} and Bamboo, not far from Market Place’s New York bordered location Danbury’s up and coming Dining District on Mill Plain Road. I had the wonderful opportunity of sitting and chating with Hawli, learning how he came to start up 3 successful, thriving restaurants in the Danbury/Brookfield area in such a short span of time. He is quite accomplished at the age of 28. Coming here from Lebanon just 9 years ago, owning a restaurant was not exactly the future that Hawli had set out to achieve. After earning his Masters Degree from Western Connecticut State University in Math while bar-tending nights, he set off to work at a financial hedge fund company, working evenings as a bar tender

Eventually the hedge fund folded closing it’s doors, and leaving Hawli with the opportunity to find a new direction in life. While contemplating his future, Hawli was drawn to the restaurant industry. He teamed up with his brother, Ayman Hawli, and business parter Marc Anderson, to open 189 Sports Cafe 3 years ago and did so with great success. A year and a half later  came Bamboo, the Modern Asian Hibachi and Sushi joint just a hop, skip, and a jump away from Market Place. Hawli wanted to bring something different to the table with Market Place by offering a farm-to-table restaurant, using locally sourced foods. There are limited restaurants in Fairfield County that offer such to the community, let alone in the Danbury area. The restaurant’s rustic styled atmosphere is sure to welcome you with it’s reclaimed barn wood and exposed brick decor, offering it’s company quite the intimate and cozy nook. After hiring the talented Albanian interior designer, Asim Polozani, to undertake Hawli’s vision, the owner was then able to focus on designing a menu equally desireable .  With quality of the food and uniqueness at the top of the list for Hawli, he was eager to find a chef that could not only step up to the plate, but also take it to the next level. Through a mutual connection, Eli Hawli met chef Joseph Lucci.

Lucci, who studied for his associates and masters degrees at The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, joined Hawli in his calling, incorporating his wide range of  knowledge and passion and began to structure the most delectably creative menu, using  molecular gastronomy, the science of pairing of certain foods while cooking. Lucci, as young as he was, wasn’t a ‘newbie’ in the restaurant industry. At the age of 15, Lucci ventured off to his first restaurant gig at The Desmond Hotel in Malvern, Pennsylvania. There is where Lucci started work as a prep cook, mostly for mass production. Although this was a door to greater opportunities, Lucci knew he wanted to expand his knowledge in the art of cooking, and so he went on to school at CIA. Graduating in 2009 with his Bachelor’s, he went on to work at his dream job, Per Say, in New York City. Lucci took the train into the city every weekend to work his shifts at Per Se, where his daily grind consisted of working for and learning from the world renowned chef, Thomas Keller, one of his idols and  inspirations. Working at Per Se taught Lucci great discipline in the kitchen. With the hands on experience he acquired in a ‘tight ship’ kitchen {quiet enough to hear a pin drop}, such as Per Se, Lucci gained the background he needed to take off  and manage a kitchen of his own. His journey led him to New Haven, soon working his way up the ladder, to Bethlehem, CT where he put in many hours at The Woodward House. It wasn’t long before Lucci and Hawli met through their mutual Dairy Land representative. Hawli had put the word out that he was in search of a talented and passionate chef, who was willing to put heart and soul into  his work and had the ablility to formulate creative american menu such as that offered at Market Place. Lucci was experienced in molecular gastronomy and also obtained drive and determination,  which was exactly what Hawli was looking for in order to make Market Place the quality eatery that it is. connected and the rest is history. Lucci puts emphasis on his pairing of textures and tastes of foods,

Market Place Kitchen and Bar was established in September of this year, with a professional service staff that presents themselves as more of a family. Hawli, when asked how he does it with managing the three flourishing restaurants, says it’s possible because of the great people he has to rely on. Market Place offers live music every Wednesday at 8pm featuring the talented Griffin Anthony. Their menu, which changes per season, can be viewed on their website listed below, as well as their location, dining hours, and website.



Market Place has a a wine rack built in to the wall of the main dining room. LOVE it! So fun!


Live music, by Griffin Anthony, plays every Wednesday at 8pm, which is sure to loosen your tie and draw you in for a glass of wine and pleasurable company. 


A few items from their menu:


This was a fine example of molecular gastronomy, in which Lucci paired a superb black mission fig, stuffed with fresh ricotta and wrapped in prosciutto de parma {which are quickly deep fried},  accompanied with a red beet and truffle puree, pancetta powder, and a melt in your mouth artichoke mouse.

The bar area is fully stocked with top shelf liquors and a wide variety of brews on tap.


The talented Chef himself, Joe Lucci…


A huge thanks to Eli Hawli {Restauranteer}, Joe Lucci {Executive Chef}, and Brian Gurnant {General Manager}, and all the rest of the family at Market Place Kitchen and Bar! I am sure to be a regular there!:)

Location & Contact Information For Market Place Kitchen & Bar:

33 Mill Plain Road, Danbury, CT 06811

Phone: (203) 616-5836

Hours: Sunday – Thursday: 11:30 AM – 1:00 AM

Friday – Saturday: 11:30 AM – 2:00 AM




Denise Cregier - I’ve already been here twice, and love it! Love the pics, Meg! Great post!

Roxanne Brennan - I’m very impressed with your whole presentation here,…the layout, your credentials, your creativity and talents!
I’ve tried the Market Place once for lunch just by chance driving by and seeing this new place a few weeks ago. I was on my own, ate lunch at the bar, and it was really wonderful. Plan on going back with friends on 2/8. I loved everything about the place!
Look forward to seeing more of your blog :)

Alease Scribner - Hey! I know this is somewhat off topic but I was wondering which blog platform are you using for this website? I’m getting fed up of WordPress because I’ve had issues with hackers and I’m looking at alternatives for another platform. I would be great if you could point me in the direction of a good platform.

Nance Northrop - Thanks for your great post. So glad you are promoting the Danbury area. Keep up the great work! Please visit Edo II next. Would love to see your photos and learn more about the owners’ story.

Suzan Girillo - You are so interesting! I do not suppose I’ve truly read something like this before. So great to find somebody with a few original thoughts on this topic. Seriously.. many thanks for starting this up. This website is something that is needed on the internet, someone with a little originality!

Andrew Pelt - I simply want to say I am beginner to weblog and seriously savored you’re web site. Very likely I’m planning to bookmark your blog post . You really come with superb writings. Thank you for sharing your website.

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