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Aug 13, 2011 10:11 AM

New Haven : need recs for variety and a great seafood/raw bar?/lobsters

We'll be in New Haven area -- and will have vehicle.
I read older threads and realize places come/go.

Need dinners for 3 nights.
We may try and get back to the Ethiopian place in town - we enjoyed dinner there on our last trip.

Our last visit we had a meal at a place on the water--it's food was pretty marginal, as was service...perhaps because we ate downstairs? (the upstairs bar was packed/ dining room near empty--this was 18 months ago/March)

So if there anything along the coast there for great raw bar and lobsters etc...
I was just in PHL for 3 nights and we ate at The Oyster House which totally rocked on raw bar..

Also best recs for anything-- basically looking for 3 great meals.

From best local dives to open ended tab...


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  1. So do I assume this particular board is slow--or that there isn't a good raw bar around? I know New Haven is MUCH smaller than Boston or Phl, I just have found my fellow chowhounds pretty good with great recs...
    had hoped for some great clams/oaysters on the half shell next week

    4 Replies
    1. re: fogfog

      Didn't see your post: there may have been some problem (requests for "what's best in New Haven?" generally elicit plenty of response, even if only the inevitable pizza places).

      You refer to an Ethiopian place you went to once. If that was Adulis (once a bright spot in downtown eating), you should know that it closed. The space is now occupied by Oaxaca Grill, a Mexican place from the people at Thaali (the best Indian place for many miles, one that could well be on your list for three memorable dinners if sophisticated Indian food appeals to you at all). Not at all bad, and probably the best non-dive Mexican around, but not super, IMO.

      I think the best raw bar around is probably at Liv's in Old Saybrook, though that may be a bit far for you. If you can bear the atmosphere, Chowder Pot in Branford does have pretty good stuff of this sort, but you have to promise me you won't eat anything else there.

      Memorable meals in New Haven of other sorts would include some of the following: Ibiza, Thaali, Skappo (insufficiently appreciated wonderful family operated place with good Umbrian food and fascinating wine list), Bentara (though not quite as great as it once was), maybe Zinc on a good night. Chinese at Lao Sze Chuan in Orange, Japanese nearby at Wasabi. Further afield, Le Petit Cafe in Branford, Cafe Routier in Westbrook, and the aforementioned Liv's. Fried seafood, lobsters, etc at Lenny's Indian Head in Branford. Fine dining in New Haven at Union League or (not quite as upscale, still good) Heirloom (in the Study Hotel).

      You won't go hungry, but truth to tell, I don't think raw bar is New Haven's strongest point. Someone else will no doubt correct me on this.

      76 Orange Street, New Haven, CT 06510

      Le Petit Cafe
      225 Montowese St Ste 7, Branford, CT 06405

      Union League Cafe
      1032 Chapel Street, New Haven, CT 06510

      1. re: fogfog

        I agree that the raw bar options are lacking. You can get oysters but its not typical to have a choice of types of oysters. More likely the choice is b/w oysters or clams on the 1/2 shell. In addition to Linguist's suggestions, I'll add Miso in NH for fairly good sushi though I think Yooki Yama in Branford it better for traditional sushi and The Lobster Shack in Branford for grilled clams and a lobster roll.

        If you're coming this weekend, check out the Oyster Festival in Milford.

        Lobster Shack
        7 Indian Neck Ave, Branford, CT

        1. re: Bkeats

          The fact is that Nwe Haven really has become a destination for wonderful dining, but alas, there are simply not a lot of options for really great seafood, and to the best of my knowledge, there are no true "raw bars."
          I know that Sage at City Point used to have one when the had the upstairs, but now that they've downsized, I don't know if that it still exists. That aside, the food was never the strong point.

          1. re: Bkeats

            Right, Yooki Yama in Branford has very good sushi/sashimi, and an incredible sake list. I do think Wasabi in Orange has slightly better sushi/sashimi, but their sakes are quite limited. They do have real wasabi, though: quite a rarity around here.

            Yama Restaurant
            245 Washington St, Wellesley Hills, MA 02481

        2. For Ethiopian, try Lalibela on Temple St. Very tasty, especially the vegetarian selections. (The place that closed, Caffe Adulis, was Eritrean.)

          Raw bars are kind of hard to recommend in the city itself, as you can see from the other posters. Heirloom, the restaurant at The Study Hotel on Chapel St., listed a bunch of oysters when I was there a couple of weeks ago, but I did not try them and can't vouch for them. The restaurant itself is very good - farm-to-table kinds of things. They also do a great upscale breakfast.

          1 Reply
          1. re: shoes

            I had the oysters at Heirloom a couple weeks ago. They were good; they even gave me an extra because they were kind of small :).

          2. Thanks for the replies. I have been googling the whole area and seems that seafood -fried--is easy to come by and not raw bar ;o( or at least not as easily found.

            Any thoughts on Pacifico?

            Might try the place, Skappo, as we used to live in Umbria.

            Have eaten at LaLibela and it was good.

            I forget the name of the place where we had seafood 18 months ago--was on the water and the food was definitely overrated...and service was slow and was on the water and we took a cab from the Omni...

            Thanks for the thoughts...really wants some cold water shellfish we can find it

            Pacifico Restaurant
            220 College Street, New Haven, CT 06511

            2 Replies
            1. re: fogfog

              The place was probably Sage American Grill at City Point. Personally I would avoid it.

              1. re: fogfog

                I agree that it was probably Sage, and that it is best avoided. mediocre on the best of days. Many do like Pacifico but I have never had a good meal, Barcelona is a better choice

                Pacifico Restaurant
                220 College Street, New Haven, CT 06511

              2. Hi All

                Well Irene made the trip to CT eventful....and we missed being able to co to the coast for dinner Sat night because we were on the last plane out of Hartford...
                Thurdsday night we ate at Pacifico. Had an excellent meal...except for the oysters/raw. They were watery and lacked flavor.
                The apps, mains and desserts etc were all great however.
                Did ask for them to turn down the music.
                The place seemed kind of slow for a Thursday night. idk...

                Ate at Lalibela fri evening...easy walk for our student from Old Campus and our younger student was craving Ethiopian food. So I canclled the Bentara reserv and hope to do that next trip.

                Hope to get to Liv's or one of the other recs...I think Old Saybrook is quite the ride from New Hven for dinner, isn't it?

                Thanks Again Chowhounds.

                76 Orange Street, New Haven, CT 06510

                Pacifico Restaurant
                220 College Street, New Haven, CT 06511

                1 Reply
                1. re: fogfog

                  Liv's in O.S. is about a 45 minute drive from NH (but might be worth it!). Linguist's recommendations are always good.

                2. If you are willing to drive 30 minutes down I-95 into Bridgeport, try Black Rock Oyster Bar. They have them fresh on ice, very clean with usually quite an extensive variety. Also, Ralph n Riches has a pretty nice raw bar setup in-season in their bar.



                  Black Rock Cafe
                  Wrentham, MA, Wrentham, MA