Located on Temple Street across from the Criterion Cinemas, Marketplace Restaurant is a four-month-old eatery that seems both familiar and unique to the New Haven dining scene. Familiarity lies in the presence of well-executed Indian, Italian and American dishes, but the distinction lies in the ability to find all these cuisines under the same roof. Indecisive students no longer need to weigh a trek to Howe Street for Indian grub against a journey to Wooster Street for Italian fare, but can simply head on over to 25 Temple S.t for the best of both worlds … with hot dogs and cheese-steaks to match.
Sparkling with the characteristic cleanliness of a recently opened restaurant, Marketplace is a brightly lit, comfortable and spacious eatery that does a growing lunch business for workers near Temple Street. A brightly colored sign welcomes diners into the main room, where a number of tables and booths face a few well-placed cases filled with luscious-looking baked goods. Care has obviously been put into everything at Marketplace, from the decorations to the food, and the service is likewise extremely friendly and accommodating.
The Marketplace’s menu can be a bit overwhelming, as it is a nine-page booklet of everything from routine breakfast fare to dinner specialties focused on Indian, Italian and American cuisine. No diner will enter the restaurant and be unable to find something appealing, and meals in every price range can be had. Whether you want a hot dog ($2.75) or the Lazyman’s Baked Lobster ($27.99), your craving (both of your palate and of your wallet) will be satisfied.
And while most restaurants that serve multiple cuisines either fail in all or master just one, the Marketplace successfully executes all three cuisines it provides to the customer. Even more important, regardless of the cuisine, each dish is presented with extreme care to the diner. Sauces and breads are homemade, and entrées have obviously been cooked by an expert hand.
This attentive touch perhaps best comes through in the soups. Made fresh in house, these bowls of warmth are offered at the Marketplace all day, and can be had in either a cup or a bowl. A cup of lentil soup ($2.50) is indeed more bowl-sized and has a radiant taste from the first bite. Cream-green in color and brimming with soft lentils, corn and dark green herbs, the soup is served steaming hot with a wedge of lemon for squirting. With the winter approaching, this soup could become a staple for Yale students.
Shrimp cocktail is a similarly tasty appetizer option, although perhaps a bit overpriced at $8.95. Six medium-sized shrimp are served at room temperature, clinging to a wine glass that contains lettuce and a cup of bright red cocktail sauce. The sauce is made fresh in house and has a tangy-goodness much better than supermarket brands.
In terms of Indian entrees, the chana masala ($7.95 for the lunch portion) delivers magnificently. A depth of flavor features just a touch of heat, and upon first smell the Yale student will realize that this is not the watery version served up by the dining halls. The chickpeas are enveloped in a thick, dark-orange sauce with specks of herbs, and a heaping side of rice and peas comes alongside the entrée. No question about it, this is as good as the Indian food on Howe Street.
Italian dishes are also well-executed, although they do not stand out as much as the Indian fare. A substantial bowl of ziti and meatballs ($8.95 for the lunch portion) holds up well, with three fairly large meatballs nestled in a bed of al dente pasta. Excellently sharp shavings of Parmesan cheese interplay well with the homemade marinara sauce, although the sauce could be a little sweeter. While perhaps not as good as the specialties of Wooster Street, this pasta is unquestionably much better than the similarly priced options of New Haven’s ubiquitous pizza-pasta-and-sub joints.
More than anything else — from the pasta to the soup, and common to all the cuisines offered on the menu — the Marketplace prides itself on making its dishes fresh and with individual attention. The same care is given to every order, be it lasagna, lamb curry or cheeseburgers, and the result is flavorful dishes that lack the tastelessness of mass-produced or pre-prepared food. What’s even more remarkable is that the Marketplace is able to do it with such a variety of cuisines.
The Marketplace is open seven days a week from 6:30 a.m. until 11:00 p.m. and delivers to the Yale campus.