Chaplin enters Shelton’s growing restaurant scene

SHELTON — Hartin Ballabani enjoys being part of downtown revitalization — so much so that he has just opened his second restaurant.

Chaplin — located on the corner of Howe Avenue and Center Street in Angelo Melisi’s latest development, Bridge Street Commons II — quietly opened its doors Friday, with a larger grand opening planned in the weeks to come.

“I am so excited to finally be open,” said Ballabani, well known throughout downtown for his first restaurant, Tacomida, which is tucked into the corner of Melisi’s other downtown development, Bridge Street Commons I.

“We’re happy that we are here on this corner,” he added. “We’re hoping that with this location, people will come to experience something that we feel is awesome but also highlight our other restaurant.”

Ballabani said the somewhat quiet opening has allowed him and his staff to “work out the kinks” as they prepare for what they hope will be an onslaught of customers.

Ballabani said Chaplin will feature a seasonally driven menu with a focus on hand-cut, dry aged steaks, a raw bar with fresh oysters and clams, classic favorites like linguini and clams, steak tartare, or the Chaplin burger - served on a brioche bun with caramelized onions, black garlic and Taleggio cheese.

“But the menu is not steak house driven, we see the steaks as a perk to the menu,” he said. “You can certainly get a quality piece of steak, but we want the overall menu and experience to be the main driver here.”

The new restaurant also will feature wines from small vineyard producers mainly based in the U.S., but also will include favorites from around the world, he said.

“The bartenders will be serving up drinks from our cocktail list which will focus mostly on Prohibition-era cocktails such as Negroni, the Chaplin Manhattan, Sazerac, bee’s knees, martinis and plenty of other craft cocktails, he said.

The 1,600-square-foot establishment will also include an outdoor patio, which is covered and heated, with plenty of seating.

“We are committed to downtown Shelton,” Ballabani said. “If we did not believe in it, we would have passed this all up and left. We are here, no matter what issues are, whatever the growing pains are, we are so happy to be here.”