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Ye olde New Haven warhorses....

  • m
  • mark Jul 31, 2000 11:44 PM

Just moved out to the LA area (from NYC) -- a couple of days before leaving, one of my friends (a former Yalie) insisted upon our taking a field trip to New Haven, as I had once remarked to her that I wanted to get a white clam pizza from New Haven before I fled the East Coast.

For lunch, tho, she made a beeline for Louie's Lunch ('natch), proceeding to quickly order and scarf down two burgers "all the way" (everything on them, so she informed me). I downed a pair as well; dunno -- is it really THAT big a deal? I mean, the burgers were nice and drippy, not too tightly packed, and the Cheez Whiz gloop on top worked better than on any Philly cheese steak I've had so far, but am I missing something? Or is it simply the fact that I didn't go to Yale? (I went to their mortal enemy to the north, in that wee hamlet called Cambridge....)

Of course, then came the question of pizza. Or should I say, apizza, as so many storefronts in town spell it. (BTW, can someone explain the origin of this? I've never seen it anywhere else.) While we considered hitting one of the two Little Italy giants, Sally's or Pepe's, both were opening a tad later in the day than we could manage (my friend had to work that night), and she espoused her own feeling that another place across town, called Modern, was superior to either one. Sooooo....off we went. We ordered a small white clam pie and a small "Italian Bomb" (her choice), which resembled nothing so much to me as one of those Pizza Hut Super Supremes (a kitchen-sink type of pie). I'll skip detailed analysis of the "Bomb" pie -- suffice to say I found it a bit....busy.... The clam pie was nice -- pretty crisp, nicely charred, tender clams (though they could have been a bit brinier for my taste).

Anyone have any current feelings on the New Haven dining landmarks? Also mentioned with nostalgia (but not patronized) were the black bean soup at Atticus and the cakes at Claire's -- anyone able to corroborate their worth?

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  1. I get to Pepe's about once a year for the white clam pie. I still feel that it's the most wonderful food I've ever tasted!

    By the way, for me, a cheesesteak is not a cheesesteak without Whiz. But there are plenty of people, even in Philly, who disagree.

    16 Replies
    1. re: Bilmo

      Does anyone recall a Chinese place called Blessings? Dinner there and a play at the Long Wharf Theater was a night on the town for me back in the 70s. p.

      1. re: pat hammond

        sure, maybe in 77 or 78 - they still had the fancy tropical drinks and took their cooking seriously, though it didn't compare to the best in NY at the time.
        What do you remember about it?

        1. re: jen kalb
          k
          Kelly Monaghan

          What about the Yankee Doodle? A tiny lunch counter eatery with no more than a dozen stools.

          Their specialty is a hot dog, stuffed with cheese, wrapped in bacon, topped with relish. If you take a bite and close your eyes you can almost hear George W. Bush barfing out a window at nearby Davenport College.

          1. re: Kelly Monaghan

            This thread has me reeling with nostalgia. Does anybody remember Jimmie’s and Phyllis’s at Savin Rock? Talk about fried clams and lobster rolls! Not to mention the famous split-franks.

            1. re: Alan Disler

              Oh, yeah! My mother used to take us to Jimmie's at every possible opportunity, because she was addicted to the lobster rolls. She still raves about those. For us kids, of course, it was the hot dogs. Does "nostalgia" mean it's not there anymore?

              1. re: C. Fox

                "Does "nostalgia" mean it's not there anymore?"

                wow....that question deserves its own thread, no?

                1. re: Jim Leff

                  Sure. We can discuss your reluctance to revisit Ratner's. ;> Which I actually understand quite well. I'd hesitate to go back to Jimmie's today, in case the Jimmie's of my childhood memories is "not there anymore". And if, as Alan says, they've done away with the outdoor counter, then it's half gone at least.

                2. re: C. Fox

                  I don’t live in NH anymore, but I believe I’ve been told Jimmie’s is still there, only completely remodelled and is now a more conventional sit-down restaurant. When I used to go to Jimmies, we ordered from the open-air counter, ate in the car, and dumped the paper plates out the window. God, I can taste those Roeseller’s (?) split franks as I type this.

                3. re: Alan Disler
                  g
                  Gene Gilmartin

                  Hey Kelly. Jimmie's and Phyllis's were great, but you forgot the best of all - TURK'S - for that east area of Savin Rock. Best of all at the west end of Savin Rock was Tiernan's Old Homestead. Don't know if you go back that far.

                  Regards,

                  A former "Rock Rat"

                  1. re: Gene Gilmartin
                    m
                    Michael Hoffman

                    Jimmy's when it was still an open place with Sal (Gagliardi, Jimmy's son) and Tony dishing up the hot dogs and lobster rolls at the counter along with the fried clams, beautiful french fries, and the birch beer and pinapple drinks. Oh, what fond memories. I remember Tiernan's, too. But, do you remember Rafaelli's right on the water and the soft-shell crab sandwiches?

              2. re: jen kalb

                Yep, '77. My former husband was on sabbatical at Yale that year. We lived in Pine Orchard, right slap on the Sound, out from Branford. What I still remember about Blessings, and very clearly, were the wonderful pot stickers. I kept a journal of that academic year, but have already packed it away. I didn't get into NY much but I remember going to see A Taste of Honey, with Joan Plowright and being too intimidated by the city to eat anywhere. Bought a hotdog on the street! How do you know Blessings? p.

                1. re: pat hammond

                  My husband is Yale LS '78 so I spent many weekends visiting in New Haven 76-78. Unlike you, we were downtown, of course, with no car, so Wooster Square, and Blessings, toward the Med school, were about as far as we wandered. Blessings had quite a rep at the time for real Chinese food (and I do remember the dumplings). By that time, Hunan and Szechuan food was really hot in NYC (and hadn't yet deteriorated into glop) and we also had both dimsumeries and plenty of humble shops doling out tasty pan fried noodles, rice cake and potstickers, so Blessings seemed good quality, but fairly pricy and staid by comparison.

                  At that time, in addition to Pepes (Sally's was never open when we went by) we liked Mamoun's for falafel (still there serving up good felafel north of campus), a pizza/breakfast place on the e. side of campus, the name of which escapes me, and the Elm City Diner (now an Indian restaurant we haven't tried) for pancakes.

                  1. re: jen kalb

                    Pat and Jen,

                    Hey guys! I didn't know you guys had ties to Yale. I got out of there in '92.

                    I actually remember the name Blessings, but not much else, so I can't imagine it was that great at the time.

                    I do, however, remember fondly the Doodle, as Kelly pointed out. Though I am a huge fan of bacon (mmmm bacon), I was not a huge fan of the pig in the blanket that Kelly spoke of. I am, however, a huge touter of their hamburgers. Best burgers I've ever had in my life, period. Cooked in butter, butter on the grilled bun, chopped onions mashed in with the patty, just no nonsense, tasty old fashioned goodness. Mmmm mmmm MMM! I love that place. Sometimes that's the only reason I go back there (not to knock Yale, best 4 years of my life, but anyway).

                    Who knows what it is, maybe it's the old fashioned feel of the place which hasn't changed in how many years - the narrow counter with about ten seats, the antique soda fountain, the fast order cook giving out free burgers when he's miscalculated. i just love the place, and nothing brings a smile to my face more than a coffee milkshake and a doodle burger.

                    take care.

                    wonki

                    1. re: wonki

                      Wonki: Interesting that you've gone from being a "Bull
                      dog, bull dog, bow wow wow, to being a chowhound (chow, chow, chow).Best to you. pat

                      1. re: pat

                        :-) boola boola.

              3. re: pat hammond

                I had only been to the original Blessings once, in the early 80's. There are 2 'Blessings II Go' take-out places in the NH area. One is on Whitney Ave in Hamden, and the other is on State St. in New Haven. I dont know if there still is any connection to the old New Haven place, but they are my choice for Chinese take-out in the area.

            2. t
              Tom Armitage

              Welcome to Los Angeles. Hope to see you soon posting on the Los Angeles board. The board keeps getting better and better, and, of course, the more that participate, the more interesting the board gets.

              1. It made me really sad to read the bad review of Modern Apizza - I haven't had one in several years (graduated in '89 and haven't really been back since the early '90s - but in memory at least, I haven't had pizza (even Grimaldi's, my favorite) in nyc to compare - can anyone confirm or deny the reports of decline?

                As for Louie's - it's the atmosphere, the tiny old wooden booths, the strange drippy meat, the rigors of correct ordering to please the counter guy - not really the food per se.

                Finally, no discussion of former New Haven glories can be complete without mention of Park Street Sub, where the Carmen Special (cheese steak with pepperoni and mushrooms) was manna from heaven for $4.75, followed by a homemade peanut butter cup. I heard the wonderful couple who cooked, served, and owned it retired to Florida...

                7 Replies
                1. re: Elaine

                  There was talk about Modern here recently -- I'd say it's as good as ever, and no one suggested otherwise.

                  1. re: Chris E.

                    I didn't say the Modern was TERRIBLE or anything -- the white clam pie was pretty good, actually; it's just that the "Italian Bomb" seemed to be a bit....busy....

                    Can't say how their clam pie compares with the other joints around town, tho. (Only had time and gastric capacity for one "apizza" -- again, I ask, does ANYONE know where the hell "apizza" comes from???)

                    Wonki -- you wouldn't by chance be the Wonki from Roslyn, would ya?

                    1. re: Mark

                      mark, actually, yes, in fact, i am the one and only wonki from roslyn (i think).

                      which mark is this?

                      1. re: wonki

                        Mark Lee -- went to Schreiber, friends with Charles Limb, Sang Kim, assorted other manner of Korean scum.... :)

                        1. re: Mark

                          Folks:

                          There's a new warhorse in town...Dayton Street Pizza, at the corner of Whalley and Dayton Streets in, of all places, Westville. The pizza there is as good as ANY in New Haven, and I've had them all. I highly recommend the Clams Casino pie, the Margherita, with basil, garlic, and fresh mozzarella. Or . . . what's your pleasure?

                          1. re: Tim
                            m
                            Michael Hoffman

                            What do you mean, "of all places, Westville"? I'll have you know that Westville used to have a Frank Pepe's. It was right across the street (Whalley Ave.) from the New Englander. Yep, Pepe's, where a small (14-inch), plain pie -- sauce and parmesan -- cost 40-cents. A small with Mozzarella cost 60-cents, and a small with sausage cost 80-cents. Probably not the same any more in New Haven.

                  2. re: Elaine

                    Park Street sub was grand. They closed down in 92 or 93, a real tragedy.

                  3. c
                    Cait (Yale, 2000)

                    YES! Atticus has GREAT black bean soup. I also like their grilled tomato foccaccia. Also, Naples Pizza on a good night (on a bad night it's terrible), Yorkside Garlic Bread with mozzarella, tomato, basil, and marinara sauce for dipping. Mamouns (I was overjoyed to find a branch on MacDougal St. in Greenwich Village in NYC)for falafel. Wentworth's ice cream in Hamden was AMAZING. Miya's on Howe St. for all you can eat sushi Mondays. BAR on Crown St. is a newcomer with great pizza. Always cheeseburgers and cherry cokes at the Doodle (they still make cherry coke with syrup and seltzer). Ohh. I miss life 'Neath the Elms.

                    1. Yes, hard to beat Mr.&Mrs. Bartleys...