The 10 Best Local Restaurants In New Haven, Connecticut
New Haven, Connecticut, boasts an exciting foodie scene, with options such as upscale contemporary Italian cuisine, farm-to-table fare and even the opportunity to dine at the restaurant that invented the American hamburger. We’ve provided a guide to the best dining spots the city has to offer.
Cafe, Restaurant, French, Swiss, Italian, Fast Food, Vegetarian, $$$
Named after the river that runs between the borders of Italy and France, Roia offers a unique dining experience that combines elements of Italian and French cuisine. With a menu built around seasonal ingredients and the very best produce local Connecticut farmers and fishermen have to offer, the restaurant creates dishes that include grilled house-cured pancetta with chicory salad, and the seared duck breast with a polenta and Swiss chard cake. Roia’s interior is a delight in itself, located in the beautiful art deco restaurant space of the grand former Taft Hotel built in 1912.
Opened in 2002 by native Italian chef Francesco d’Amuri and his American wife Alison De Renzi after they moved from Florence to New Haven, L’Orcio offers upscale contemporary Italian cuisine in historic surroundings – an 1899 building known locally as Thomas Kelly House. The restaurant creates menus that change with the seasons though guests can expect dishes along the lines of handmade lobster ravioli with a sherry cream, and the oven roaster fillet of Mediterranean sea bass with fresh artichoke hearts, cherry tomatoes and cream. On warmer evenings, diners can enjoy their meal in L’Orcio’s charming wisteria covered courtyard under the stars.
An independent bookshop and cafe, Atticus Bookstore Café has been serving natives of New Haven for the last 30 years. The perfect dining destination for bookworms, guests can stroll the aisles of Atticus looking for their next great read before sitting down in its charming cafe area just meters away from book shelves. Atticus offers diners a range of soups, salads and hearty sandwiches like the barbecue pulled pork with grilled cheese, roasted pears and smoked jalapeno mayo or a larger plates like roasted salmon with tabbouleh and a red pepper parmesan sauce. Adding to the experience, the bookstore also regularly hosts art exhibitions by local artists.
A true farm-to-table dining experience, Caseus Fromagerie and Bistro’s menus change regularly depending on what seasonal, local produce is currently available. Lovers of cheese can stop by Caseus and pick up some of its 100 plus artisan cheeses – the largest and most diverse selection in all of Connecticut – alongside a range of olive oils, charcuterie and preserves. Alternatively, stay for a while in Caseus’ airy, wood-paneled bar area or cozy basement and sample the bistro’s menu which befittingly has a heavy focus on cheese, with dishes like macaroni cheese made with a mix of raclette, gouda, comté, cheddar, provolone and der sharfer maxx topped with crumbs and served with salad.
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A cozy wine bar with a bohemian bistro vibe, Cave à Vin is located within a charming redbrick building on New Haven’s picturesque, historic State Street. Appropriately, Cave à Vin has an extensive wine list boasting a number of roses, whites, reds, champagnes and dessert wines with varieties from across the globe. Its menu features a number of salads, soups, paninis, artisan pizzas and sharing plates like the barbecue pulled pork nachos with pepper jack cheese and jalapenos. A regular player in New Haven’s cultural scene, Cave à Vin also hosts many live music events and exhibits the works of a different local artist on its walls each month.
Located within the popular lifestyle hotel Study at Yale, Heirloom offers diners an upscale urban dining experience in stylish, modern surroundings with a warm, neighborhood ambiance. Aiming to create a gathering spot for friends and family, chef Carey Savona, a native of Connecticut, populates the restaurant’s menu with dishes built from local, seasonal produce showcasing the best of the state’s rural and coastal bounty. Try an appetiser of baked Connecticut clams with pancetta, lemon, lardo and rosemary followed by an entrée of Sepe Farm lamb ragu with hand-rolled penne, porcini, rosemary, green garlic, milled tomato and pecorino romano,
Established way back in 1895, Louis’ Lunch is reportedly the birthplace of the all-American hamburger that we all know and love today. Current owner Jeff Lassen, the great-grandson of founder Louis Lassen, still follows the original, simple burger recipe – which comes garnished with only cheese, tomato and onion – and the restaurant features a traditional interior and even the original cast-iron grills dating from 1898. Steeped in history and a cultural fixture of New Haven, the restaurant has a special place in the heart of locals and when it was threatened with demolition in the 1970s, patrons rallied to help relocate it and even donated bricks to the build.
Mamoun's Falafel Restaurant, New Haven | Photo courtesy of Mamoun’s Falafel Restaurant
Something of a New Haven dining institution, Mamoun’s Falafel Restaurant offers classic Middle Eastern fare like hummus, kebabs and, of course, falafel in authentically decorated. Its proximity to Yale makes it a favorite with New Haven’s student community, giving the restaurant a vibrant ambiance. Open daily from 11 am until 3 am, guests who want to get a real taste of the Middle East should order the combination meat plate which comes with hummus, baba ganouj, shish or chicken kebab, falafel balls and tahineh sauce. Vegetarians won’t miss out with options like ful mudammas – a fava bean-based dish with garlic, parsley, lemon juice, tomatoes, oils and spices.
Combining contemporary and classical cuisines, Union League Café brings the very finest in French fare to the palates of Connecticut diners in a beautiful space located directly across from Yale University. Inside, the brasserie exudes the charm and sophistication typical of a Parisian restaurant. While Union League Café’s dishes – like the duck foie gras terrine appetiser with rabbit confit – are distinctly Gallic, most ingredients are actually sourced from local, organic producers.
Established in 1999, ZINC is a venture from co-owners Donna Curran and chef Denise Appel, who share a passion for local food that showcases produce made by the local community. A firm favorite with foodies both native and visiting, the restaurant boasts a prime location directly across from the historic New Haven Green and its sustainable, farm-to-table menu features delicious produce from local artisans including Liuzzi’s Cheese and Jones Apiaries. Expect innovative, contemporary American dishes like the slow-roasted baby ribs appetizer with honey hoisin glaze, peach salsa and pickled cucumber noodles, or the chili marinated Pacific black cod main with Szechuan pepper mussels, baby bok choy and bamboo rice.