Thursday, June 7, 2007

New Haven restaurants

So, recently, Nicole and I have been exploring the many fine restaurants (and no, I'm not kidding) in New Haven, CT. There's a fine guide called the Menu, which describes itself as "relentlessly opinionated". I like it quite a bit because it tends to underrate restaurants, which is much better for a guide to do than overrating them. Anyway, here's my personal supplements, divided vaguely into categories.


There are a LOT of Indian restaurants in New Haven. 3 on my street, within a 5 minute walk of my house. 6 within a 20 minute walk. The clear champion amongst the ones I tried was Thali, a more upscale place, with good drinks, very good food (you could actually taste individual ingredients, unlike most other Indian places). I recommend the Lamb Biryani and the plain Dal.

The other places (Royal India, Tandoor, Zaroka, Sitar (why would you name your restaurant after an instrument?), and India Palace) are all more-or-less interchangeable: same menus, similar decors, etc. I think Royal India is the best of this group, the Lamb Vindaloo is quite good. Tandoor is interesting because it is housed in the building that used to be the Elm City Diner, which was an old train-car style diner.


Now, New Haven is famous for pizza. Even one of Chicago's favorite pizza joints, Piece, proudly serves "New Haven style" pizza. This is extremely thin crust, not overwhelmed with cheese or sauce, and fresh toppings. In fact Piece is very directly inspired by one of my favorite institutions, Bar in New Haven. both brew their own (very tasty) beer, serve a classic New American salad (field greens, pears, candied pecans, blue cheese, vinaigrette), and excellent pies. I think that Billy Jacobs, one of the owners at Piece, was inspired by Bar.

I didn't actually try either of the two grand old New Haven institutions, Sally's and Pepe's, but was reliably informed that the time it took and the rudeness you must endure aren't really worth it. But maybe I'll have to try them at some point in the future.

For me, the other New Haven pizza standout is Modern Apizza. Nothing fancy, just a really yummy brick oven pizza with excellent toppings. Stick to the pizza though, the salads and everything else are pretty mediocre. When Nicole and I went there, her salad was just iceberg lettuce, but our pizza with green peppers, cherry peppers, and onions was delicious. Nicole says that it is one of the best pizzas she's had in New Haven. And she's lived around there for longer than I have, so you should probably trust her.

Latin American:

While New Haven has no decent Mexican places (El Amigo Felix and Viva's are both awful), it has some very nice Latin American options. Soul de Cuba has very tasty Cuban food, and excellent (and cheap) Mojitos.

Pacifico, though, is one of the best restaurants I've eaten at in a while. The drinks and appetizers are superb, and one can quite easily make a meal out of them and a dessert. The Ecuadoran Shrimp Ceviche and Mango baby back ribs are particular standouts from the starter menu. We also had a very good octopus ceviche the last time we were there.

Pub food:

Rudy's. Read it about it here. And yes, on further consideration, the Sunset Wheat is not very good.


Yankee Doodle: eggs, burgers, bacon, etc. all covered in grease. A counter. The waitress calls you hon. Nothing else in the Have compares, though the Educated Burgher isn't bad, and Anna Liffey's makes a good omelette and is a nice Irish pub.


Oh, the Union League Cafe. How I love thee. Nicole and I went there before seeing a play at the Yale Rep, and it was great fun and better food. A long, impressive-looking (I don't really know much about it) wine-list (and for the record, our Sauvignon Blanc was very nice), and just amazingly well executed food in a beautiful setting.

The sea scallops appetizer (with lemongrass, among other flavor notes) and the chocolate souffle were the standouts.


Bentara is actually the best Malaysian restaurant I've been to. The curry mussels appetizer is just superb.

OK, I'm starving now. The cafeteria here in Pisa opens at 7:30pm, I don't know how I'm going to survive the next 10 minutes. Maybe I'll gnaw my arm off.

No comments: