Rocking Horse

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About the Smokehouse

Back in 2012, owner Jerry Fornarelli opened Rocking Horse Saloon in Hartford, Connecticut. The fun and friendly vibe immediately attracted a crowd and it wasn’t long before the Saloon was full of customers and staff who had become a family.

With a vision to expand the brand, the concept for Rocking Horse Smokehouse was born and Vernon, CT provided the perfect location. The Rocking Horse Smokehouse brand represents an amazing dining atmosphere where consistently good food, craft beers, cocktails, and a top-shelf collection of bourbons are paired with exceptional service and warm hospitality.


Whether you're dining on the outdoor patio, relaxing on the deck, or taking in the ambiance inside, you'll appreciate how the Smokehouse reflects Jerry's reputation for creating unique spaces that combine innovation and nostalgia. From bar games inside and out to live music with local bands or DJs, there’s always something to entertain you.


Rocking Horse Supports the Community

Over the years that Jerry has been in the food service industry, his venues have hosted charity events for a variety of organizations. In recent years, Jerry has supported events for St. Jude Hospital, The Wounded Warrior Project, and Toys for Tots among others. He’s also donated gift certificates to fundraisers for local youth organizations and charitable organizations.

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George Giotsas

George’s love of cooking—and of serving good food—comes from hours spent learning from his mother. From her, George learned the value of attention to detail, of doing the little things well, and making gatherings, with kin and strangers alike, memorable. All values that he brings into his award-winning restaurants.

With restaurant work that spans a lifetime, George began his career working in fine dining establishments such as Carbone's Ristorante in Hartford, CT. In 1990, he worked for Little Mark's Big BBQ, which he became owner of after just five years of employment. After closing Little Mark’s, George moved into the role of Executive Corporate Chef for The Black Dog Tavern on Martha's Vineyard, overseeing menu planning and recipe development for four restaurants.

With a desire to bring something unique to the Connecticut restaurant scene, George turned to his extensive travel experiences to create the best barbeque recipes and techniques to set his food apart. The result is a smokehouse flavor infused with the herbs and spices of Mediterranean countries. 

Head Chef George Giotsas

George’s culinary creations have won numerous awards and been featured in many local and national publications, including:

  • Best Brisket 2017 Hartford Rib Off
  • Best Steak And Reserve Champion 2018 Hartford Rib Off
  • 2018 New York International Restaurant Show Rapid Fire Challenge Best Meatballs Champion
  • Best BBQ Hartford
  • Best BBQ Connecticut Magazine
  • Best Food Taste of Enfield
  • Best Food 4B Festival (Bacon, BBQ, Beer and Bourbon)
  • Food Network’s Cooks vs Cons, winner season 4 episode 9 ($10,000 prize)
  • Food Network FireMasters and Supermarket Stakeout
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Behind the Scenes

Building Our Space

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57 Hartford Turnpike
Vernon, CT 06066


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Sunday: Noon-9:00pm (kitchen) / Noon-12am (bar)

Monday-Thursday: 3:30pm-9:00pm (kitchen) / 3:30pm-11pm (bar)

Friday: 3:30pm-10:00pm (kitchen) / 3:30pm-2am (bar)

Saturday: Noon-10:00pm (kitchen) / Noon-2am (bar)