Now in its 14th year, New Haven Restaurant Week returns to town as the masks come off. It offers two weeks of specials at 53 restaurants in eight neighborhoods.
Karen Lin, photo editor
As masking mandates around the city begin to lift, New Haven’s popular restaurants and eateries are coming to life with new offerings as part of an expanded dining week held March 27-April 9 .
Officials announced details for the week at a press conference on March 25. Owners of several participating restaurants joined Mayor Justin Elicker and other city officials outside Ricky D’s Rib Shack, championing small business resilience throughout the pandemic and highlighting the restaurant program in full city air. This year’s Restaurant Week, which will last two weeks, will feature 53 restaurants, offering discounts, supplements, special menus and fixed price meals.
“Hospitality, heart, culture and tourism are an important part of our economic mix,” said Michael Piscitelli, New Haven’s economic development administrator, acknowledging the personal aspects of local dining and the contributions of the food industry to a thriving urban economy. “More than 16% of jobs before the pandemic were in the hotel industry. This is an area we need to support and provide everyone with the opportunity to recover together.
Elicker recalls one time he ate at Ricky D’s and the conversations he had with Ricky D. Evans, the owner. Evans’ business started out as a food truck before becoming a restaurant at 302 Winchester Ave., serving a variety of Southern ready meals and recipes.
Evans’ trip to the restaurant, along with many others, has seen roadblocks throughout the pandemic, when social distancing guidelines and masking mandates triggered a significant drop in the number of people going out and visiting restaurants. pubs and shops in town. Businesses that haven’t closed have had to adapt their structure to accommodate more takeout options, Elicker said. He urged the public to celebrate this “pivot” to where shops and restaurants are just beginning to pick themselves up.
Participating restaurants include Blue Orchid Pan Asian Cuisine and Bar, Chaps Grill, Elm City Social. and the Christopher Martins pub. Participating restaurants represent cuisines from diverse cultures and each offers one of the following special programs: prix fixe meals starting at $20 per person, 20% off or free meal supplements. New Haveners can find the full list of restaurants and their offerings here.
“It’s time to show that New Haven is open for business,” Elicker said, noting that the start of 2022 has been particularly difficult due to the Omicron wave. “It’s up to all of us as a community to help support our restaurants to make sure they bounce back as our city bounces back.”
Restaurant Week has evolved and grown over the years. It now includes both full-service restaurants and limited restaurants, according to Bruno A. Baggetta, director of marketing and communications for Market New Haven. This year’s event features participating restaurants in eight neighborhoods that offer a variety of breakfast, lunch and dinner options. The team also arranged and entered into parking agreements with the city so people outside of New Haven could enjoy city dining while visiting.
“Our restaurants are the life of New Haven,” Baggetta said, thanking business owners and the event organizing team.
Now in its 14th consecutive year, New Haven Restaurant Week – the first of its kind in the state – is made possible with financial support from the city, Yale New Haven Hospital and Yale University.