Service here is appallingly slow, waiting times are completely inaccurate – on a busy Saturday night anyway – and it does take itself a tad too seriously, but El Almacén is a pretty little spot for some Argentinian grilled meats, Mexican and Spanish-influenced dishes and a tight New World wine list. The spinach, cheese and corn enchiladas are heavenly and the mussels surprisingly well-flavoured. Paella and short ribs are excellent choices and for dessert the panqueque seemed to be a hit too.
I hereby declare these to be the second-best pizzas in New Heyhey (see Da Legna for the winner): the Thanksgiving pizza, with mashed potato, cranberry, turkey and stuffing is such a thing of beauty and sublime pleasure that we tell everyone we meet about its special powers. Drinks are obviously great in a bar which calls itself BAR, and there’s a dancefloor to work off that indulgence; good luck with the music though, as it’s wildly inconsistent due to the city’s lack of a real DJ scene.
Now these really are the tastiest pizzas in New Haven, and probably the best I’ve ever tasted. Our two visits here confirmed for us that the area is rightly famous for its thin’n’crispy pies, artisanal toppings, and excellent service. Many agree with us, and the bustling restaurant is proof of its fame and reputation. Forget the noise made about Pepe’s nearby; come sit at the bar here and soak in the atmosphere, or take one of its creations home.
First, let’s dispense with the small plates (calamari being the misnomer – a huge serving of spicy rings that’s great to share): the crispy mac’n’cheese wedge ($4) and wild mushroom puffs are good, but nothing to rave about. The blue crab claw nachos are a little overpriced at $9 so you won’t want to share them. But the pizzas are hearty and perfect for splitting: the Pecora was my favourite (goat cheese, fresh ricotta, pistachio nut, truffle honey and caramelized red onion), the Torina is a little simpler but still rich in flavour (baby spinach, caramelized tomato & onion and goat cheese) while the Funghi (selection of wild mushrooms with burrata cheese, truffle oil, tarragon and ricotta cream) was complex and dripping in layers of umami. There are so many to try, and at $15 for a 12″ and $21 for a 16″, amazing value. Non-artisanal pizzas are $8 or $13, with $1.50 or $2.50 per topping respectively. Staff are friendly and there is a certain deserved pride that emanates from the kitchen and wood-fired oven that makes everything glow with high quality.
I can’t wait to go back and try the Barbecue di Maiale (BBQ pulled pork, mashed potato, roasted corn off the cob, cheddar cheese), and with New Haven on the way from NYC to my in-laws, there’ll be many more opportunities to try what might be the best pizzas in the world.
We went over to the brightly lit sushi side, rather than to the hibachi tables which take up the first room of this large space; there is also a bar/lounge area which looks much more amenable for small groups and couples that don’t want the glowing diner atmosphere that the non-discerning masses end up in. Sushi Specials were half-price, so this is really good value for most of the week. However, with excruciatingly slow – albeit friendly – service, and no frills or surprises, good value would be the only reason to come back here. That, and their unique Happy Birthday song performance.
A $10 buffet deal brought us here, and very satisfying it was: chicken tandoori, chicken kadai and chicken tikka masala (a lamb or fish option was sorely needed to replace one of them – probably the dry tikka – but then it wouldn’t have cost a tenner!) with baingan masala, channa masala, naans, pakoras, rice and salad. The quality of the food is surprisingly high, and service is average, unless you meet the owner’s son who is friendly as can be. Great for a slow afternoon of being weighed down and eventual currycoma.
It’s a ‘street kitchen’ with ‘soul food’ apparently, and very influenced by Gujarati and ‘dhaba’ cafe food. Even though service can be a little uneven, the food is reliably good, though portions tend to be on the smaller side. Bombay bhel puri, chicken lollipops and Hakka chilli paneer were all excellent, and all around the £5 mark. There are cocktails and coolers (mocktails), wines, beers, chais and hot chocolates, and even a ‘lychee teapot martini’ infusion with vodka – these drinks will keep us coming back. Perfect for snacks and a few drinks, but the decor – ersatz Hindi street signs and advertising slogans – doesn’t impress.
Tube: Marble Arch
This is a delicious burger, even though it looks like it has been flattened by a steam-roller. It cannot be emphasized enough how greasy it is, though: I have had some unhealthy food in my time, but the guilt I felt after eating a single cheeseburger here was overwhelming. So make sure you have a high tolerance for this, or else come drunk.