The Unofficial New Haven Gourmet Guide
It's late afternoon. The Game is over, and the parties have not yet begun. Inevitably, the question surfaces--what is there to do in New Haven?
You've already confronted this question, several years ago when you were a senior in high school. Thinking back, you can't really recall an answer.
Suddenly, you remember something your best friend at Yale told you one day while explaining why he was actually glad Harvard turned him down.
"At least we have Sally's," he said.
Whatever else might be said (and is said) about New Haven, the town offers some of the best restaurants in New England, and the best pizza in America.
Described by Yalies as "tops" and "awesome," Sally's is a classic, what Coke is to soda, what Harvard is to college.
The pizza--than-crusted, and served in a large square pan--represents a perfect balance of dough, sauce, and spice. The flavor is imperfectionable.
The only real reason you could possibly find for not going to Sally's is that it is located at 237 Wooster St., in the Wooster Square region of New Haven. The walk is reasonably long, and even a little dangerous.
Until a few years ago, only a few privileged people knew about The Spot. The cognoscenti were rewarded with pizza as good as Pepe's without the line.
Owned by Frank Pepe, The Spot features the exact same pizza, albeit cooked in different ovens. The recipe is the same, the taste is the same. But the location is different (163 Wooster St.).
But in town where the residents argue about pizza the way Cantabrigians argue about ice cream, not everyone agrees on where to get the best pizza.
Harvard is to Yale as Sally's is to Pepe's.
Pepe's is, perhaps, the second best pizza in America. Located on 157 Wooster St., down the street from Sally's Pepe's is reputed to be the first pizzeria in America. It is a nice place to say you have been to.
Dimly lit, with ancient illustrations of Yale and old black wooden tables with the carved initials of many Elis, Naples Pizzeria on 90 Wall St. excudes atmosphere.
Naples has long been a popular Yalie hangout. Better than the Yale Daily News, Naples is the place to catch up on relevant campus information.
The pizza itself is reasonably good, though it tends to be a bit oily. To play it safe, always order a large; the flavor is invariably better.
Perhaps one of the best reasons to choose Naples is the pitchers of beer, which, according to Yale sources, will be served to almost anyone, without carding. Another bonus for Naples is the mere half-hour wait (at worst) to order pizza.
Also choose Naples for its convenient location, no more than ten minutes from any college--the Yale equivlent of a House.
Recently, however, Naples has become a hangout for local high school kids, particularly those of the New Wave/punk variety. Although on some nights, the clientele resembles the crowd in front the Harvard Square MBTA station, such occasions are rare. There'll be a predominately college crowd following The Game.
Although never actually rivalling Herrells, several New Haven ice cream establishments are good enough that, if you close your eyes, wish really hard, and click your heels three times, you may almost believe you're in a real ice cream town.
The first place to try is either of Ashley's two locations--the original, at 196 College St., or the newer and more convenient store, on York St.
Supposedly, the ice cream at Ashley's is the most fattening you can buy. But whether the calories come from the ice cream or the addiction remains unclear.
Many Yalies describe Ashley's as "simply the best." It offers a fair choice of delectable flavors. Take a chance; the most exotic flavors are usually better than the standard selections.
Although the ice cream at Thomas Sweet, located at 1140 Chapel St., is reasonably good, the flavors reasonably diverse, and the dining area reasonably comfortable, the main reason to go to Thomas Sweet is for the blend-ins.
Rather than hacking the ice cream and M&M's to pieces, Thomas Sweet uses a special machine, resembling a somewhat perverse giant drill to blend evenly the flavoring into the ice cream. The amazing thing is, it really works.
White Mountain Creamery
White Mountain Creamery, on 316 Elm St., offers the kind of ice cream that arouses passionate indifference. It is never as crowded as either Ashley's or Thomas Sweet; perhaps, there is a reason for this.
Two saving graces are the Creamery's waffle cones and the chocolate chip ice cream which is to rumored to be the best around.
When You're Not Very Hungry
Whistler's (1104 Chapel St.), a restaurant and bar with a moderately sophisticated clientelle, serves expensive food, but people go there for nachos and drinks. Yale sources say Whistler's rarely card, but don't be surprised if they do.
Located two minutes from Old Campus, Demery's, at One Broadway St., at least has a convenient location.
Viva Zapata's at 161 Park St. is a dark Mexican restaurant and moderately popular Yale hangout, known for its nachos, beer and margaritas. Besides, they rarely card.