STAMFORD, Conn. — Nothing pleases longtime chef Judith Roll more than seeing a busy family hunker down to a plate of Southern-style comfort food at her restaurant, Judy's Bar + Kitchen in North Stamford.
Far enough away from the city hustle and minutes from the Merritt Parkway, Judy's on High Ridge Road is a place to treat yourself to a night out without having to deal with traffic, parking and high prices, she said.
The location in a small plaza next door to Ring's End Paint Center is north of Roll's other restaurant, Tabouli Grill at 59 High Ridge Road, where Israeli and Middle Eastern food are the stars.
A third restaurant, Tabouli Grill Southport, closed when Roll decided to open Judy's and focus on her two businesses in Stamford, where she also lives.
She dished recently about the new establishment where country buttermilk-friend chicken and sliced Texas BBQ brisket are plated generously, along with two sides, such as macaroni and cheese, as an option.
"You can eat healthy all week long at Tabouli Grill, then come in on the weekend and enjoy a bigger meal in this city without spending too much," Roll said.
Her priciest dish is a meat combo for $29, but "It could feed a family of six, though it's meant for one. Portions are big. We have great American dishes, comfort food and barbecue with an attention to freshness."
When Roll graduated some years ago from Culinary Institute of America, there were just two women in her graduating class.
After working in restaurants, she stayed at home a spell to raise her daughters, now 14 and 18, before returning to work about 10 years ago.
Her first business was running a bakery, Sweet On You Bakery & Cafe, in Stamford. Tabouli Grill followed in 2010, then the Southport location.
"Back when I graduated it was a small percentage of women (cooks). But it had been long since I was out of the restaurant world. Though things have changed I don't have a single woman working for me in the kitchen. That's not by choice. They haven't come along, applied, or worked out," Roll said.
Working "with all guys" throughout her career has drawn out her maternal roll, she said.
"My employees have babies and I'm dying to see their babies. They tell me they're sick or their kids are sick and I say stay home. I get that side of life and realize you only live once. I spend the bulk of my time in Judy's now then on Thursdays, I am at Tabouli," she said.
Roll creates the menu and prepares desserts at Judy's. She said her Southern style menu has caught on in North Stamford.
"I opened Judy's Bar + Kitchen so people could have a place that's not crazy expensive, a good neighborhood place, not a dive. It's downtown comes uptown, with a little hipness, a modern vibe, but you don't have to deal with driving or parking downtown and all that."
Craft beer, wine, and cocktails round out beverages. Judy's holds happy Hour from 3 to 6 p.m. weekdays.
The restaurant is located at 927 High Ridge Road, Stamford.
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