BAR. 254 Crown Street. New Haven

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.

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Da Legna. 858 State Street. New Haven

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.

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Kumo Hibachi Steak House. 7 Elm St #1. New Haven

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.

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Sitar. 45 Grove St. New Haven

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.

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Bentara. 76 Orange St. New Haven

Jeff Ghazali is a legend in New Haven for his food’n’drink parties that he throws in his house, as well as the owner of the city’s only Malaysian restaurants, one of the best Asian places in the area. The menu is neither overly expansive nor too restrictive, but if you’re flexible with taste – and hungry – it can be hard to make choices. So just solve that problem and order a few dishes to share, as Delusionaryculinary always seems to advocate, family-style.
Roti Murtabak (ghee bread filled with a mixture of ground beef, onions and eggs with a curry sauce) was tasty, as well as heavy and greasy, and Tofu Sumbat (bean sprouts and julienne cucumber stuffed in four tofu triangles served with a very spicy shrimp paste or milder peanut sauce) was a lighter affair, spongy but with a crispy layer.
The mains are even better: Ikan Percik (Grilled Salmon filet with coconut turmeric lime sauce and steamed baby bok choy and a large halved grilled tomato) was well-balanced and textured. There’s so much more to try here, and with a huge wine list (though sadly our AlbariƱo choice wasn’t available) and some coconut-based cocktails, many repeat visits are in order. It helps that service is excellent and food comes out quickly, even on a fairly busy Saturday night.

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Mambo Cocina Latina. 758 State St. New Haven

We came here for happy hour and were impressed by the range of tapas and drinks. The mango margarita went down a treat and the Goose Island beer was great, Boquerones (white anchovies) on mini avocado-smeared tostas were just average, while the vegetable empanadas were a little better. Remolacha salad (red and golden beets, with goats cheese and a pineapple vinaigrette) were very mismatched – textbook hippy tucker. Quinoa croquets (filled with mushroom and roasted pepper and served with a truffle aioli) upped the ante, though: we could have easily had another plate of these. Service is friendly and prices are low, with wine and cocktails at $5 during happy hour, and draft beers at an unbelievable $3, until 7pm even on Fridays.

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