NEW MILFORD — Many of the dishes at Scooters Bar & Grill, which recently opened at 507 Danbury Road, are inspired by the owners’ roots in Bronx, N.Y.
Scooters, which owner Edwin David describes as serving a “fusion of American and Italian comfort food,” has opened at the former location of 1st and 10 Sports Bar & Grill, which closed in early 2019.
David said he and co-owner Vilson Vataj kept the sports bar feel from the prior owners.
“This is predominately a sports bar with screens all around you. We have 10 screens at the bar,” said David, who lives in Brewster, N.Y. “In the dining room, we have ambient music and try to appeal to a broader demographic.”
All dishes are prepared on site. Menu items include stuffed peppers, which are filled with a combination of rice, meat and mushrooms, and topped with marinara sauce and cheese.
There’s also a barbecue shrimp skewer wrapped with bacon.
David said these are “staples” from their experience at Frankie and Johnnie’s Pine restaurant — a landmark that has been open for more than 50 years in Bronx, N.Y.
David and Vataj have worked in the restaurant and hospitality industry for about 30 years. Prior to opening Scooters, David worked for 10 years in restaurants, corporate car services and hotels. Vataj, who lives in South Salem, N.Y., is also the owner of Portofinos Pizza & Pasta and 5 Brothers Pizza & Pasta in Brewster.
Scooters has a wood smoker on site, “which allows us to smoke beef brisket, pork shoulder, ribs and even the chicken wings,” David said.
According to David, the smoker brings “a whole different flavor” to meat and chicken.
“We buy the wings fresh. We marinate them for a day and a half and then we put them in the smoker for three hours,” he said. “It gets a nice crispy coating on the outside. We even make our own sauces that accompany the meats.”
Chicken wing flavors include “sweet heat” and “slow death.”
Scooters also sells a half-pound burger, which is a blend of brisket, rib and chuck.
The 5,000-square-foot restaurant made the top-20 list of Wing Addicts for 2020. The restaurant can accommodate up to 160 patrons, including a patio area that seats about 45. There are trivia nights on Tuesdays and Sunday brunch will begin in several weeks.
Frankie and Johnnie’s was frequented by many sports celebrities when the two men worked there in the late 1990s. David met Derek Jeter, Duke Snider, Willie Mays, Muhammad Ali, and others.
He said he enjoys being a restaurant owner, and all the work that goes into it.
“Not a lot of people go into this knowing what they’re doing. While many people want to have a restaurant, but doing the hours that we do, working seven days a week, 14 hours a day — you either like something or you don’t,” he said. “It takes a commitment not just to prosper, but to excel in what you do and the basis of that is the people and how you can help them, and to see someone satisfied or to have a conversation with someone.”
To contact Scooters Bar & Grill, call 860-799-7961 or visit its website.