PA to North Haven, CT - looking for dinner!
We're leaving philly around 6:00 on Friday and are heading to North Haven. Presuming we're on 95 north, where can you suggest for some killer chowder, or an excellent fish sandwich, or heck even a great burger and beer along the way. We probably won't want to stop until 8;30 or 9 if that makes a difference. And, sinceI hear a bit about some marvelous pizza in CT, I guess a pizza parlor wouldn't be too far out of the question....but me thinks seafod might be better (no BYO, though).
At the far end of your trip, actually just past the rte 91 turnoff to North Haven, there's Branford, CT, where you'll find Lenny's Indian Head (205 South Montowese Street (Route 146), Branford, Connecticut 06405, 203-488-1500).
That's where I used to go for lobsters and fried clams when I was a kid. It's a neat place on a salt marsh - very family oriented, lobster bibs, big plates of clams, kids running between the tables. I used to love it. I think my parents, who have returned to Connecticut after years away, said that the last lobsters they got at Lenny's weren't all that, but that the clams were still great. I can't 100% vouch for it because it's been a long time, but Holly of Hollyeats gives it a good write-up and he has yet to steer me wrong. Here's his page on Lenny's:
Actually, Holly recommends another place that's on your route that I've been dying to try. It's a donut place in Westport that he and Bill Clinton claim makes the nation's best. It's not relevant to your nighttime drive up but could figure in on the way home:
I wish I could offer more, but the clam shacks really start a bit farther north, like in Old Saybrook (Johnny Ad's). Of course there's pizza, but it sounds like that's not really your plan for this particular trip, right?
You might want to rethink your plans assuming you're leaving at 6:00pm from Philly through New York up I-95 in Ct. I doubt you'll even be in Ct by 9:00 and the decent but informal seafood places are mostly beyond New Haven. If you can leave earlier like noon, try for pizza at the Fairfield Pepe's or the original in New Haven or Modern Pizza also in New Haven.
yeah, I keep telling The Driver that we're not gonna make dinner near New Haven by 9;30 - or even 10:00. I am just trying my best to avoid the Houlihan's in the hotel when we arrive (well) after 10:30....
having said that, is there anything near Stamford or Darien or Norwalk or Fairfield (i see you mention pepe's - is it just a tiny pizza place or does it have seating...beer)? we might have a better chance of making either of those towns by 9 or 9:30.
We drive from Conshohocken to Connecticut ALL the time (although we are usually ending up more in the Hartford area). I know that without a huge amount of traffic, you can make it as far as the R.I. border in 4 hours taking I95. I haven't been there myself but Danbury is a chowhound find according to Jim Leff who wrote this piece a while back. Danbury may be a bit off your route, but for the hell of it...
I read on this board that the Goulash Lady passed away, but you would think these other places would exist.
I think you could get to Danbury in about 3 hours (if you luck out traffic-wise).
A couple of options:
Super Duper Weenie in Fairfield, CT (about 3 or 4 blocks from Route 95) has some of the best hot dogs in New England. They have a few seats inside the place, but it's all about the hot dog here. Great fries, too!
Pepe's in New Haven (about 1 minute from Route 91 and 3 minutes from Route 95) indeed has seating. There are two Pepe's--we have been to the original, which has a handful of tables. I don't remember them having beer there, but I may have been too overwhelmed by the incredible pizza to even notice.
If you don't mind a slight diversion, you owe it to yourself to eat at Roseland Apizza in Derby, CT, which isn't *that* far off the beaten track, and well worth it for the food.
The pizza there, one of CT's best, has a very thin, cracker-like crust, and there are lots of interesting toppings available. Their shrimp oregonata is superb, e.g.
But the rest of the food is also tremendous. The arugula salad, with gently sauteed mushrooms, a bit of grated parmesan, and a light, simple dressing, is simply one of the best salads I've ever eaten.
Their baked penne with lobster sauce is extraordinary and truly memorable.
If you do make it to New Haven, both Pepe's and Modern Apizza are meccas for pizza lovers (as is Sally's, but I haven't been there in years), and Pepe's is quite close to both 95 and 91.
There is beer and wine available at all these places.
The Pepe's in Fairfield is a recently opened branch of the original Pepe's in New Haven. It has a lot of seating and does serve beer. I haven't eaten there yet but reports indicate the food rivals the original. I would say it is your only hope of a decent pizza considering your time frame.
According to their web site (link below) they close at 11:00 on friday. Easy access to/from I-95 too...see web site for directions.
I live in New England but from the Philly area, so I drive this route a lot. My favorite place to stop (which is about the half-way point) is City Limits Diner in Stanford, CT. A little pricey but worth every penny especially considering their outstanding beer list & desserts! Check them out at www.citylimitsdiner.com
sarahbeth - thanks! this is high on my list for tonight!
and since pizza (and hot dogs) seem to rock in CT , I have made plans to go to Pepe's in New Haven on Saturday at 11:30 a.m. -right at opening time. Wedding isn't until 2:30 and the reception not until 6, so i think we can handle Pizza for brunch!
Stamford is about 45 minutes south of NH, and sounds like you can make it in time.
Fish/seafood: Ocean 211 has been good to us on visits. It's on the Summer St. extension across from whatever the Mexican place is called these days, about 3/4 mile from exit 8 on I95.
Pizza: Exit 8 north, turn right on Elm, go to next light, make left on Myrtle Ave, turn into first driveway and park. You are at The Colony Grill. You will either love or wonder what the fuss is about. It's a dive cop bar with insanely addictive pan pies with a crust that seems to recall irish soda bread. An anorexic can eat two. Don't chip the good china.
If you take exit 3 off I-95 in Greenwich, CT (obviously one of the first exits in CT - not far from Stamford but before you get to it) there are several good restaurants up and down short, tony but not snooty Greenwich Avenue - prettiest place to stop off on your way, I think. You'll see a gorgeous view of Greenwich harbor as you ease off on exit 3. I think it puts you onto Arch St. by the water, so if you take that and then a left at either Steamboat Road or Greenwich Ave. (same street, it changes names) at a light, that's the cute little street I'm talking about. It goes uphill. The rest of what I'll mention refers to 'up' and 'down' as regards the hill. Not sure if it's a one-way or not these days. It's only a few blocks long.
There is a Northern Italian place midway down that little street called Terra with wonderful cuisine and they do their own fancy pizzas (but this is all much much much nicer than a typical pizza place - there's a little bar by the stone pizza oven where you can sit and have a drink, nice wines). This is my favorite of the bunch I'll mention. A French place across the street from it called Versailles - may be affiliated with another French restaurant too? All three are on this page and there may be menus:
A block or two down hopefully there's still an Asian place that does wonderful udon soup (the kind with thick flour noodles and tempura)... and a few doors down from there is a decent, kind of dark general purpose place that does good salads, which is:
409 Greenwich Ave, Greenwich, CT
There's another Italian back up that little street that does a great tricolore salad and is more casual but nice food:
235 Greenwich Ave, Greenwich, CT
(203) 661-5831 -
Back down the street a bit is a traditional heavy Italian with steaks and garlic bread swimming in butter and a great wine selection (well known, been around ages):
Manero's Restrnt: Meat House
559 Steamboat Rd, Greenwich, CT
There's a pretty Chart House with a great view a little bit from there:
3 River Ave, Greenwich, CT
Folks, thanks a million for everything. And I am here to tell you that:
1. Road trips, esp on rainy Friday evenigns are made for fast food (despite any level of houndness). I never ever eat at such places but since we both needed a pit stop too soon (the first place on the NJTpike!) we just had to get a burger (him) and ....chicken fries (goodlord, how awful) at Burger King. Sorry, everyone with fantastic ideas! (we were heading out of traffic around the City Diner exit in Stamford - we did contemplate going but the chicken fries were not settling right)
2. Northbound trip: we decided that it was rainy and wet so either way (tappan Zee nor GW) would stink. and so we went the more direct route (GW/95) and by some sheer stroke of luck, we made it to North Haven in about 3.5 hrs!
3. Houlihan's in small towns is weird. Houlihan's at Holiday Inns in a small town are weird.
4. Heaven. We got up and headed the 10 min to New Haven on Saturday morning to get to Pepe's in time for the 11:30 opening. We got there at 10:30, enjoyed the sights and smells of a nice farmers market around the corner and kept on walking. We returned to Pepe's at 11:20 to be 30TH IN LINE! It was worth the wait. It was just simply glorious pizza, the crust thin and crispy and just the right touch of salt, the sauce a tiny bit tangy rather than sweet. They were out of clams! so we had shrimp white pizza (and a plain and one with sausage and mushrooms). and I had a WHITE birch beer. Who knew? it was delicious. We tempted bacteria by keeping leftovers at room temp until we left on Sunday to come home- but it was and is worth it.
4. Took the same route home yesterday, leaving North Haven at 10:00 a.m. and somehow, some way made it across the BF bridge by 12:40. Seriously. We had magic on our side (and a lead foot, but hey, we got here in time to prep snacks and watch the Eagles STINK! ugh)
THANKS FOR ALL YOUR HELP!
As a native New Havener, I have to ask you what other kind of birch beer is there other than "white".. presume you mean "clear". Glad you liked Pepe's even without the clams..next time you're up this way, try Modern Apizza..better than Pepe's imho with the sole exception of white clam pies for which Modern unfortunately uses canned clams.