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Sep 24, 2008 10:33 AM

New Haven, CT Restaurants - Help My List

I live in Newtown CT, and no offense to folks in the area, but the lack of restaurants in the area has forced me to expand my geographical range for good, new food. So I'm off to New Haven. We go out for dinner once a week and I love researching places before I go. I already know about the pizza places, but please take a look at my list and let me know what restaurants worth visiting I am missing for the New Haven Area. Thanks

Blue Pearl
Central Steakhouse
Christopher Martins
Delaney tap Room
Geronimo Bar & Grill
Martins Riverside
Nini's Bistro
Sage American Grill

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  1. Missing:
    Union League
    Bistro Basque

    on your list that you could skip (imho):
    Delaney's (only worth it for the beer selection)
    BAR is good, but is only pizza
    Blue Pearl

    10 Replies
    1. re: EastRocker

      Great Thanks. I am a huge beer fan, hence the inclusion of BAR and Delaney's.

      1. re: doho95fu

        well in that case I also suggest Prime 16, amazing beer selection, and a variety of specialty burgers.

        1. re: doho95fu

          I'm absolutely, solidly behind EastRocker's suggestions as additions to what you have. I would add Pacifico, especially if it is Saturday lunch. We have always enjoyed it.
          Don't know Sage, but it doesn't have a stellar reputation for anything but the view. Also, Delaney's is working on their menu, and I think improving, but it's still in the great bar food category, for now.
          No Mexican? I think we all agree Guadalupe La Poblanita is tops for authentic Mexican food.
          If you are coming from Newtown you are practically driving right past Crave. It is on the order of Bistro Basque and, I think, better than Bin 100, Christopher Martins and Martin's Riverside. We think Martin's Riverside may be sliding into the river... More than the salads have taken on a sweet note and prices went up. While you are driving this way there is Roseland Apizza in Derby. It is in anunusual residential setting but has great pizza and Italian.
          BTW, Bistro Basque is worth the drive, but is in the heart of Milford.
          I'm going to toot my own horn again and suggest you look at my Google map:
          To be fair it was created with a lot of input from other Chowhounders. I haven't been to all the places! Some are on my "to-do" list.

          1. re: Scargod

            Thanks. we are actually heading to Crave this weekend. I have not been yet but looking forward to it. Roseland Apizza is where I get my pizza from, even though it is 20 mins away. Carminuccio's in Newtown is on alot of Top Pizza lists, but I just don't get it.

            1. re: doho95fu

              I went back to Carminuccio's this year for the first time since the late nineties. The product they're serving today doesn't resemble in any way what they were turning out back when it was my go to pizza place. Most of the top lists I've seen it on are from that period, and anything since might just be the product of fond memories. It's too bad, because it used to be absolutely fantastic.

          2. re: doho95fu

            absolutly prime 16 for beer but the food not so great. my favorites Mezcal, pot au pho (although middletown has better vietnamese a restaurant called Pho Mai) thali and thali 2, Kumo oh please help kumo I don't think they are doing very well and I like those guys a lot. Oh Yes and The Oriental Pantry for the bee bim bop! absolutly the oriental pantry. Richters has really good burgers believe it or not. otherwise listen to eastrocker clearly a local. probably one of my neighbors.

            1. re: keith2000

              Not saying you are wrong about Prime 16... but my one experience was a good one. I think it can get overbearingly noisy, but I'm not that used to noisy places, which might be more the norm for some.
              I'm curious about what you didn't like.

              1. re: Scargod

                I've now eaten at Prime 16 at least a half dozen times. That says a lot in and of itself, because I don't give too many places even a second visit. That being said, I've noticed some minor inconsistency, though clearly not enough to deter my continued patronage. When I say minor, I mean the food has been very good on most visits, but just ok once.
                I'm not sure if I'd attribute this to an off night, or some of the burgers not being designed well. The stuffed mushroom burger is the only one I've had that I didn't love; it was dry (not the meat, the overall effect) and didn't have enough mushroominess, despite being loaded with mushrooms.
                They also don't have an exacting precision on the temperature of the meat. The burgers have always been the temperature I've ordered, but sometimes on the low end and sometimes on the high end. The last time I was there, which was earlier this week, a couple of bites on one edge of my burger were overdone.
                Now, these are relatively thin burgers, which does make it harder to cook perfectly. It is also difficult with freshly ground meat to get the fat distribution to be perfect. A less fatty spot on the outside of the burger is always going to be overdone; it will cook much faster as the fat will render out too quickly. It could also just be that the cook that night didn't know the hot spots on his grill well enough, or had it turned up too high. I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt, however, because every other bite was delicious.
                The only other complaint I have is that they're not doing anything special. I guess special is a lot to ask for at under $10. Something as simple as making ketchup, and other condiments, on site could do a lot to take the place up a level, however.

                1. re: Scargod

                  I got really excited about a bar with 20 beers on tap and an extensive burger menu that uses natural angus. It is possible that my expectations were just too high. I really do love it for the 20 beers on tap. Are we sure that the patties they use are not pre formed?

            2. re: EastRocker

              Well, yes. Skappo is extraordinary, I'd say, Ibiza is the overall winner in town, and Thali is also remarkably good.
              But I'd like to hear others' feelings about Blue Pearl. The place is a mystery: hardly anyone there most of the time (and I go by nearly every evening). Looks like a front for something sinister and not related to food ... but occasionally when I've gone there, I've had quite a good meal. And other times, an awful one. What have others experienced here?

            3. That's a good list! Here's one not on your list - Kumo Hibachi Steakhouse. They also have a sushi bar. I haven't been there but plan to go soon.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Shoreliner

                Kumo is a beautiful space, and the owners are very nice people. But on food quality they are not anything special. The hibachi is standard Benihana fare, and the sushi is on the low side of average. I would be interested if someone else gave it a try for a second opinion.

              2. You can add Leon's of New Haven to your list , its located on Long Wharf Dr. previous home to the Rusty Scupper, I ate there about 2 months ago and enjoyed it. Its a little on the up scale side but not to out of place for the area. And the view is amazing! Earle Ct.

                17 Replies
                1. re: Earle

                  Oh? I think many know my position on Leon's. It has a nice view and OK, but unpredictable, food and service. More the food. Just search Leon's +scargod on Chowhound and you will see my saga. If you really need the view and can tolerate the roll of the dice food, then fine. Go there for drinks; fine. I'd rather go to five other places in New Haven for good Italian food.

                  1. re: Scargod

                    Speaking of which, what are your top 5 places for Italian in New Haven

                    1. re: ctfoodguy

                      I knew someone would ask....
                      I have to say that I thought I had five better than Leon's "that I have personally been to more than once", but I am having a brain fart. So, in order of preference:
                      Tre Scalini
                      Luce, is just north of New Haven, in Hamden (but I think it counts)
                      Tony and Lucile's or.... Leon's (gets the edge for the view)

                      1. re: Scargod

                        We're fans of Soleo's, on Forbes Avenue near the East Haven line. A colleague had been recommending it for years, and we finally got out there this summer. Friendly staff, traditional menu (pastas, veal piccata, zuppa di pesce) with a few unusual specialties (tripe, calf's heart) which we haven' worked up the nerve to try yet. Hmmm, maybe we'll go this weekend ...

                        1. re: Roundelay

                          Thanks for the heads-up. The ones I'm meaning to try are Antonio's, Tolli's, Aniello's, Il Forno (Milford), Carmine's (Shelton), Biagio's (Stratford) and La Zingara, in Bethel.
                          Don't know if I should include Geppi's or Goodfellas on my to-do list or not.
                          Edit: I forgot that we used to really like eating at 500 Blake Street till they started doing private parties and catering only.

                          1. re: Scargod

                            Tolli's has very good pizza, slightly thicker than Pepe's, with nice specialty pies. Their other Italian is also very good, nothing fancy but quite tasty. Also, thumbs up on Antonio's for old style red sauce Italian.

                          2. re: Scargod

                            What about Skappo? Or Nini's?
                            I've yet to try Scoozzi. Something about the dirty concrete architecture that used to dominate New Haven has always turned me off to trying it. Perhaps I need to get over that and give it a shot.
                            I wouldn't put Leon's anywhere near the top five though. There's better Italian, and there are better water views. I know Sage isn't popular on this board, but I'll take their reasonably priced and fairly solid steak and mashed potatoes over the highly overpriced and mediocre fish and pasta at Leon's any day. I also think Sage does one of the few good brunches in town now that Blake Street has stopped.

                            1. re: danieljdwyer

                              PLEASE don't misinterpret my list! These are just the one's I have personally eaten at or remember eating at. I'm sure there are many local restaurants that are better than the last two places on my list. I just can't speak from personal experience about any others. I would almost say, "don't go to Tony and Lucile's or Leon's".
                              Scoozzi is not bad...

                            2. re: Scargod

                              Had dinner last evening at Hamden's Luce, for my folks' wedding anniversary. It is sort of the only game in town -- in Hamden, that is -- and was only all right. I like the restaurant's bar and wine list, but the two fish dishes that I tasted -- my own and my mother's -- were mediocre. Stick with beef and pasta, I think. My nephew had the risotto -- a giant serving -- and it was tasty.

                              1. re: aoakes4

                                I haven't been to Luce in at least six months. However, I eat a lot of fish and usually eat fish at Luce. I am surprised at your comment. Can you tell me what two fish dishes they were and what was wrong with them? I'm not saying you were wrong but (on Chowhound), you seem to be an expert on pizza. Did your mother not like her fish?
                                There are a few other good restaurants in Hamden... The Terrace (for Thai), Mickey's Restaurant & Bar and The Playright.

                                1. re: Scargod

                                  I went to Luce a few days before Christmas for lunch and it was great. I had never been and live only a few miles away, so it was nice to finally experience it. My friend and I both had the salmon special and it was very good. It contained something I had never seen before - a giant caper. The waiter had described it with "capers" (plural), but it came with one giant caper. It was very tasty, but it would have been nice to have more than one. But the salmon was delicious!

                                  1. re: Scargod

                                    No offense taken, Scargod - different tastes, right? These two dishes - one was the salmon, the other I can't remember at the moment - had an odd texture, which suggested to me frozen fish and then frozen fish that was just not cooked as carefully as it could've been. It was not the end of the world, and I tend to be very picky about my fish - so keep in mind my pickiness when reading my comments. Will try your other suggestions when I'm back in Hamden - appreciate these new ideas!

                                    1. re: aoakes4

                                      No prob. and no offense taken either. Perhaps you've read this:
                                      Most fish is frozen. I had a son-in-law who is a professor of marine biology, specializing in commercial fish production. He feels that frozen fish is more often better than fresh; particularly when sold in a grocery store setting. Safer, too.
                                      I ask for the unthawed fish when I go into my Stop n Shop!
                                      I suspect the odd texture issue was something else.
                                      I'm picky, too (or haven't you read my posts?).

                                      1. re: Scargod

                                        I agree. Unless you're buying fish that is somewhat local, you're absolutely better off with frozen. Certain preparations, like searing, will never be absolutely perfect with a piece of fish that has been frozen. Unfortunately, New England has been over fished for centuries (longer and more aggressively than anywhere else in the New World), and, when it comes to the larger fin fish, your choices are usually: frozen, farmed, or not fresh enough.

                                        1. re: Scargod

                                          Now I will ready your posts! All the best.

                            3. re: Earle

                              I want to do a little Texas two-stepping, or as Lousianan's say, "crayfishin'". Perhaps it's just that Leon's has improved?
                              A bunch of us had lunch at Leon's today and we had a nice lunch! I had lobster ravioli and except for a couple of pieces of shell it was quite good. It could have been a little hotter, but I'm nit-pickin'. Others had the "mahi mahi Maria", scallops with red sauce and pasta (not the "Scallops Athenian"), two had a simple, tomatoey penne pasta dish and one had the gazpacho and chicken caesar salad. The person who had the soup and salad though the gazpacho was too "creamy". I did not get to taste it. They though the salad was overdressed. They even asked for it to be lightly dressed.
                              Others were saying they were pleased with their meals and desserts (but, to be fair, they were all guests). I tried the scallops, which I have had before, and it tasted good. Two shared a cannoli, and finally, they did a decent one that wasn't pre-made and soggy. The Tiramisu was light and delicious.
                              Service was good.
                              This was a big step up from the last time I was there with a big group. I am now moving Leon's ahead of Tony and Lucile's and saying, "see for yourself." A slight endorsement...

                            4. If Milford places are in play because they are "on the way to New Haven", then so too should Biagio's on the Stratford Milford line. I would definitely check that place out.

                              1. Definitely add Tre Scalini--excellent Italian food, very classy.