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Aug 21, 2007 04:28 AM

New Haven, CT (Pilot Pen)?

We are goint to the Pilot Pen tennis tournaments this coming weekend.. It's at Yale, in New Haven, CT...our first time there. We have no ideas of what is around in the area to eat. What restaurants would you recommend nearby for dinner. We'll have a few hours break between the Ladies Final & the Men's final and would need to have an early dinner. All types are welcome for suggestions except for Asian (chinese, japenase, thai, ,etc). Thank you.

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  1. New Haven? You must have a local pizza, wood-fired, delightful. Many say the best are all on Wooster St., e.g. Pepe's, Sally's, etc. but for a shorter wait, and excellent pies and beer, go to BAR:

    254 Crown St
    New Haven, CT 06511
    (203) 495-8924

    1 Reply
    1. re: rdesmond

      Here's what you will hear...Pizza...It was invented in New Haven and so was the hamburger at Louies....has anyone ever considered the absurdity of that statement...

      Pizza at Pepes, Modern. the Spot and BAR etc...people will say there is no other food in the world.. and the folks at Pepes and others will have a fit if you say it is wood fired because it isn;t.

      You will wait two hours for a pizza. Your will be among Yalies and their parents coming back to school who will spend the rest of their lives expounding on their experiences while regular New Havenites will hardley go there...ever.

      You will say..."it was great"...then wonder if it was really that great...expand the search...


    2. My favorites in New Haven are:
      Pacifico for Nuevo Latino. Reasonably priced, lively, and every dish I've had has been delicious.
      Ibiza for what Esquire deemed the best Spanish Restaurant in America. At the time of the Esquire review (2003 I believe) it was a bit hit or miss in my book. For the last two years, however, they have been consistently excellent.
      Soul de Cuba has the most authentic Cuban food I've seen outside of Miami. If you like rum, you'll find their rum menu and rum samplers to be more than enough reason to go.
      Barcelona is consistently good, if overpriced and overtrendy. Basically your standard high end New York metro area tapas bar, though there is a bit more emphasis on actual "tapas" and not just "small plates".
      Unless your exclusion of Asian restraurants also includes Indian cuisine, I would also strongly recommend Thali. The food is not heavy like one generally expects of Indian cuisine, and incorporates a far broader range of flavors than the Indian food typical of CT.
      Even though it's absolutely incorrect for one to say that New Havenites don't eat at Modern Apizza, which is full of locals every night of the year, I would not recommend it for this particular trip. For one thing, the line will be ridiculous, not because of Yale students and parents (who can't even get into campus housing until almost a week after the Pilot Pen ends), but because of the crowds from the Pilot Pen. Any of the pizza places will have crazy waits that weekend.
      New Haven also has somewhere in the vicinity of six thousand Italian places. For the most part, they are your typical Tri-State area Italian joints. Locals flock to these, and like to recommend them, but they won't give you a taste of what New Haven has to offer any more than a nearly identical Italian place in any given town in New Jersey or Long Island will.

      14 Replies
      1. re: danieljdwyer

        Thank you everyone for all the great suggestions and advice. A loooooooong wait for pizza just isn't possible for us, so I appreciate the optional pizza places to try.

        And, the other types of restaurants that danieljdwyer suggests all sound terrific. I checked out all of them and realized we have a problem. None of them open before 5pm. Hope all of you terrific Chowhounders can help solve the problem.

        We have a limited window of time to go for a meal...the Ladies Final ends at around 3'ishpm. We have to be back at the stadium by 6 for the Men's Final. All the restaurants that we checked have to be open during those hours. What do you suggest?

        1. re: synergy

          Try Abate Apizza on Wooster. Less crowded, still great, open all day. Also has entrees other than pizza.
          Anna Liffey's-- casual Irish pub-- open all day.
          We were at the Pen on Sunday-- it was great. Have fun!

          1. re: synergy

            One other thought -- I don't know if they are going to make you leave after the first final and then come back for the second one, but the food at the pilot pen is actually pretty good (although I haven't been in a few years). They usually have a pretty big selection and the outdoor area where the food/entertainment is setup is nice. I'll bet there's also some kind of music or something like that in between (or before the final). If you have to leave you could always go into NH and see what you find and if the answer is nothing, they'll be decent food for you to eat when you go back.

            The food certainly won't be as good as it would be at some of the better restaurants mentioned here (Pacifico, Ibiza, Barcelona), but if nothing appealing is open, it's another option.

            1. re: synergy

              An important thing to keep in mind. While the Pilot Pen is indeed in New Haven, and is on land owned by Yale, it is not "at Yale". Thus, by the time you leave your seats after the Women's Final, walk back to wherever your car is parked, drive through the traffic to get to downtown New Haven, park, walk to your restaurant, order, eat, walk back to your car, drive through traffic to the Tennis Center, park again, and walk back to your seats by 6:00, you will have a lot less time than you think for your meal. I don't think any traditional "sit down" restaurant will be worth it, especially for a 4:30 meal. So sodagirl's cautions notwithstanding, your best and most logical option is pizza. Even with a modest wait, it is still faster than a traditional restaurant. You also should consider calling for takeout as you leave your seat after the Women's Final, go pick up your pie(s) and bring them back for an al fresco tailgate back at the field where you park. (Frankly, that's what I would do.) The Spot (same owners and product as Pepe's) opens at 4:00. You should be able to get right in at that time with no wait. Pepe's and Modern open before noon and don't really have huge lines at 3:30-4:00 in the afternoon, which, if all goes well, will be when you might arrive. A 15 minute wait for a table plus 20 minutes to get your pie is still faster than a sit-down restaurant. If I recall correctly, Sally's opens at 5:00, so cross it off your list.

              Bottom line is that there will always be "haters" out there who dis New Haven apizza. But every single reputable reviewer and guidebook puts these places at or near the top of every single list out there. Can they all be wrong? If you haven't been, this is the perfect time to try one. Even if it is for take-out.

            2. re: danieljdwyer

              six thousand? really?

              Must be an awful lot of early arrivals this year...not everyone lives in the dorms.

              Pacifico is good, Ibeza is better, Barcelona is expensive, but I don;t blame them...good food is expensive and most reatsurants have not kept paced with inflation..I see significant increases acrooss the board for most this year.

              I will give in on Modern and the locals...but the constant one sided perception and directives by many chowhounds that think they have a balanced perception of what is good or bad and that Pepe's and their spin offs are worth the wait has never been validated in my many frequent visits...

              Modern is a little more local

              1. re: sodagirl

                Is Abate Apizza on Wooster and/or BAR, 254 Crown St, walkable from where they have the tennis? (our first time there as you can see)

                1. re: sodagirl

                  Opps, forgot to ask about Modern too - is it walkable from the tennis tournament?

                  1. re: synergy

                    No place mentioned in this thread is walkable in the time you have. See my post above.

                    1. re: synergy

                      Synergy-- there is a food court at the Pen. It is fried seafood place that made a decent cod sandwich and lobster roll, one ok pizza place, burgers, dogs, etc. Ok but nothing more.

                      My suggestion-- after thinking-- do not go to New Haven. Leave the Pen, and go the opposite direction on Rt 34 to Derby. Get thee to Roseland Apizza. Parking right there-- AWESOME food-- no Yale or Pen crowds. Maybe 10-12 minutes from the stadium. Check them out here on on

                      1. re: madisoneats

                        Thanks everyone for all your great suggestions. I'll let you know what we end up doing.

                        1. re: synergy

                          Regarding Turkish Kebab House: They're open lunch THROUGH dinner, so you could go at 4 if you wanted.

                  2. re: danieljdwyer

                    Since you're not going to be in downtown New Haven anyway, then go to what Mark Bittman calls one of the best Turkish restaurants he's ever been to: Turkish Kebab House on upper Campbell Ave in West Haven (which is the town in which the PP is located, btw). You'll have no problem parking, and no problem getting a table. The atmosphere is decent, nothing great -- though you get cloth tablecloths and napkins -- but the food is bliss. Don't miss the red lentil soup or the appetizer plate. The bread is excellent. Any of the kebab dishes can be recommended, though my own favorite is the adana kebab. Also, I prefer the kebabs served yogurtlu style, rather than with the rice. And for desert, don't miss the kunefe. Don't waste your time with Saray, whose bread and soup are inferior to TKH's. Everyone I've taken there has become a regular.

                    1. re: fungusguy

                      For the record, the Tennis Center and Yale Bowl are in New Haven, and the baseball field is in West Haven. The athletic fields straddle the border. See map here:

                  3. If you proceed down Central Avenue to Westville Village there is always Delaney's for a sandwich or a burger. They have outside seating and have a good selection of beer.

                    Its is a bout a 1 - 1/2 mile walk so you could walk it.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: jf11

                      Modern, Modern, Modern! Shorter line than the Wooster St. places, just as good (perhaps better). I concur with the more general point, that apizza is the one must-eat food item in New Haven. In my personal opinion, you can skip everything else (with the possible exception of Miya's sushi).

                    2. Hi Everyone. I wanted to let you know what we ended up doing. The tennis tournament provided a free trolley to town in New Haven. The Ladies Final ended up finishing early, about 2:30pm. So, we took the trolley into New Haven. It was great, took about 10 minutes, and dropped us off right in front of the Omni Hotel. We walked
                      around and looked for a restaurant - but pretty much every place we wanted to try, and most of yourr recommendations were closed. We ended up at a bar/restaurant directly opposite the Omni. They had salads, burgers, and entrees. I got a salad, and you could "create" your own, selecting the ingredients you want. It was good, all fresh,. My husband had a burger that hit the spot. We got the trolley right in front of the place to go all worked out perfectly. Thanks again to everyone...we'll have to go back again to sample pizza!

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: synergy

                        That's a little bit depressing; I do hope you get to try the pizza.