What To Eat in Connecticut
In and around New Haven, vintage bakery ovens turn out what may be the nation’s best pizzas. Along the shore, look for the state’s much-loved hot lobster roll, fried clams, and steel-gray clam chowder. Throughout the state are memorable artisan ice cream parlors and donut shops; and in a small area around the city of Meriden, you’ll find diners serving what may be the nation’s most peculiar burger variation, known as a steamed cheeseburger.
White clam pizza was first served in New Haven in the mid 20th century. It is a simple pie, made with neither tomatoes nor mozzarella cheese – just freshly-opened clams, minced garlic, a dusting of sharp Pecarino cheese and a sprinkle of herbs. The elegant medley is really more a flatbread than a pizza, its crust ultra-thin with a rugged underside from grains of semolina on the oven floor, its circumference puffed up in a golden circle that offers profound resilience in every bite.
A special steam cabinet is used to cook individual portions of ground beef and blocks of Vermont cheddar cheese, the latter transformed by steam into a pearlescent mass just viscous enough to seep into every crevice of the meat below, but not so runny that it escapes the sandwich. The soft hamburger (no crust on a steamer) and cheese are layered in a hard roll along with lettuce, tomato, pickle and onion to become a dizzyingly juicy burger feast.
Simplicity itself: hunks of warm, fresh-picked lobster bathed in butter and piled into a split-top bun that has been lightly grilled (in butter) on both sides. No mayo, no lettuce, no herbs or seasonings. Just sheer lobster-eating bliss.
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Johnny Ad's offers fragile-crusted clams, shrimp, scallops, calamari & soft-shell crab either on a plate with fries and slaw or in a toasted buttered bun.
Carbone’s of Hartford, Connecticut, has been serving white-tablecloth Italian fare since '38. For a big deal, old-world meal, it reigns supreme.
Vividly flavorful Neapolitan pizzas make Bufalina a best bet along the shoreline in the pizza-rich state of Connecticut.
Locals love off-the-beaten-path Lorenzo's for meat-and-potatoes meals as well as for Italian fare and a full repertoire of pizza with crisp, thin crust.
A beloved Bridgeport dive since 1942, the Merritt Canteen serves a chili dog that will make your lips glow. Breakfast sandwiches are loved by regulars.
Westfair Fish & Chips is a kitchen with an order window and a few tables. Fried clams, sole, scallops, shrimp & oysters all are Connecticut bests.
Traditional farm house chicken pie is still available at Dottie's restaurant / diner, as are some of the best cake donuts in Connecticut and all of New England.
Shady Glen cheeseburgers are awesome works of art, but don't ignore the excellent ice cream concoctions from this vintage Connecticut dairy bar.
Frankie's of Waterbury is one of Connecticut's top hot dog restaurants, notable for the hot-sweet relish available for its foot longs. No indoor dining.