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Wilton's Authentic Indian Restaurant Athithi and its Michelin-Starred Chef Win Fans Near and Far

Heather Borden Herve, GMW Editor

Mar 22, 2023

The creative force behind the delicious menu is Executive Chef Hemant Mathur, the first Indian chef to receive a Michelin Star, a feat he topped off by earning another star after opening a second restaurant.

Anytime Wilton residents would start a conversation with, “I wish there was a [blank] in Wilton…,” quite often what they’d hoped for was, “Indian restaurant.”

Not only has that wish now come true, but Wilton may have won the lottery at the same time with Athithi, the Indian restaurant that opened late last year at 14 Danbury Rd. in the Gateway Plaza shopping center.

With Athithi, Wilton can now also lay claim to having a restaurant with a Michelin-starred chef. The creative force behind the delicious menu is Executive Chef Hemant Mathur, the first Indian chef to receive a Michelin Star, a feat he topped off by earning another star after opening a second restaurant. Now Wilton is getting a taste of Mathur’s 30 years of culinary experience — along with his reputation as a master of traditional clay ovens and the nickname “the Yo-Yo Ma of tandoori cooking.”

Mathur was lured to Wilton by resident Princelal Chiriyankandath, who spent 16 years working in the restaurant business in New York City and Fairfield County. But the Covid pandemic made Chiriyankandath — who tells people to call him ‘Prince’ — decide it was time to work closer to home and open up his own restaurant.

“I thought, why not in Wilton? Wilton didn’t have any Indian restaurants,” noted Prince, who has lived here with his family for six years. “I thought of doing [something more] authentic — a change from what all the other Indian restaurants used to have.”

As part of his research, he spoke with friends and colleagues from his years in the business. Some were owners of well-known Indian restaurants that have had success in Westport, New Canaan, Darien, Stamford, Fairfield and beyond.

“I did some digging before with people who thought of doing something in Wilton. When I talked to [one], he said, ‘Wilton, it’s a very small community, and also it’s very tricky.’ Several well-known restaurant groups backed off. I asked, ‘Why you didn’t open in Wilton?’ He said, ‘Oh, no, it’s not easy,'” Prince said.

But that still didn’t deter Prince. He knew finding a location in the Gateway Plaza on the Wilton-Norwalk border was strategic for capturing residents from both towns as well as people traveling on Rte. 7. But first he had to prove it to the shopping center’s owner who was already renting to Ren Dumpling House, Outback Steakhouse, Pokeworks and Boston Market.

“When he heard [we wanted to open] a restaurant,” Prince recalled, “initially he said, ‘Oh, no, no, no, I have already four restaurants. I don’t need another one.’ But when I explained my passion as well as my experience, and our Michelin-rated chef, then he agreed for that. You know, I [recently] got an email from him that said, ‘I heard you guys are doing a very good job!”

Athithi certainly is doing well since opening three months ago. Getting a reservation is a wise choice for anyone who wants to dine in, and the restaurant is doing a steady takeout business as well. Prince credits his two partners, Executive Chef Mathur, as well as Chef Chandrumohan Krishnasamy, who adds his own extensive culinary background — and magic — to execute Mathur’s vision daily, (and who decided to move to Wilton with his family as well).

So what is it about the menu that makes Athithi stand out? There are several dishes that diners won’t find elsewhere.

“This is a new menu and we have introduced lot of more authentic [dishes]. We divided India into six regions, and from each region, we bought four main authentic dishes. I’m from the south, the chef is from the north, and south dishes like Kerala Shrimp Moilee and Lamb Madras and Cochin Black Pepper Chicken and stuff like that. I need to do something different than other restaurants,” Prince said.

He has already started seeing the support from his Wilton neighbors. “Once they like, they start loving,” Prince added. “From my perspective, now we are doing good.”

Our friends at CT Bites, the culinary roadmap of Connecticut, featured contributor Kristin L. Wolfe‘s recent visit to Athithi, and they’ve graciously allowed us to share their review here (including some of their photos) — which, of course, means Wilton residents should make those reservations even faster now that the word is out to the foodies from Fairfield County and beyond about the gem we’ve got in Wilton.

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