Old favorites with new twists

Coming back to campus means a return to familiarity, whether welcome or tedious: A G-Heav sandwich run can still soar into the double digits; SAE still serves beer warm; and it’s as though Toad’s never closed. But underneath the roars of the 6 a.m. jackhammers, New Haven’s restaurant scene has quietly made some changes.

Sabor

Roomba may have closed its doors in June, but the fiesta continues at Sabor, a new restaurant on College Street brought to you by the owners of the late Cuban eatery. Chef Arturo Franco Camacho serves up the same fresh Nuevo Latino cuisine in the same three-story location that houses the restaurant Bespoke and boasts the only rooftop bar in New Haven.

Rather than splitting the space into two restaurants on separate floors, the owners decided to give patrons a full range of seating options, from the long, sleek bar on the ground floor to the open-air seating upstairs. Customers have the option of ordering from either restaurant’s menu, regardless of where they are seated.

“We wanted to bring together two concepts under one roof,” manager Juan Dominguez said. “It’s important to us that we preserve the identity of the two restaurants, each with its own distinctive menu.”

Seafood features prominently in the cuisine. Look for twists on old Roomba favorites — like shrimp and scallop ceviche, or pulled pork rolls in orange chipotle sauce — as well as new innovations, including barbecued salmon with fried banana in lemongrass sauce. Don’t forget to save room for dessert and the requisite post-prandial mojito; plan on spending $20-30 on an entree, $50 if you throw in market-price seafood appetizers and a drink.

Cosi

Cosi may be a sleepy trattoria by day, but the Elm Street restaurant now boasts a cocktail bar on the second floor, open daily from 5 p.m. to closing (midnight on weekends, 10 p.m. on weeknights). “Cosi After Dark” boasts five beers on tap, a signature wine list and martinis at a quality and price that rival even Hot Tomato’s.

The upstairs area has been remodeled to accommodate the stylish but small bar, which seems a little too traditional for Cosi’s more colorful and contemporary decor. Additional seating has also been opened up in the back of the second floor for diners who want a little more distance from the hustle and bustle of the food preparation and takeaway counter on the first floor.

Most recommended are the Fountain of Truth — which contains about as much alcohol as a Long Island Iced Tea — and the always-classic Dirty Goose martini. Pair a milder drink like the Ruby Red Sea Breeze or Missy’s Pear Shaped Moon with Cosi’s do-it-yourself s’mores to satisfy your urges for alcohol and sugar in one stop.

Mom’s Indian Kitchen & Grocery

A grocery, deli and Indian café all-in-one, a new incarnation of Mom’s Indian Kitchen — formerly located on Crown Street in New Haven — can now be found at 1348 State Street. While the tiny corner restaurant won’t be open for another two weeks, owner Mohan Hossin said he expects Yale students will be willing to make the trek out to Mom’s new location.

“We’ll have all of the traditional Indian dishes students like at low prices,” Hossin said. He listed chicken tikka masala, lamb biryani and curry vindaloo as the menu items he expects to be most popular.

But Mom’s new home is small, even by New Haven standards. One side is a small convenience store, complete with soda dispensers and a wall of junk food, while the other side houses the deli and provides a few small tables near the window. All in all, the area seems jam-packed with too many concepts in too tight a space.

Hossin said he will be offering 15 percent discounts to Yale students, and his handwritten fliers pepper on-campus bulletin boards. But when a $20 round-trip cab ride to the restaurant is factored in, it seems unlikely that many Elis will be venturing out toward Hamden to explore this tiny Indian deli.

Atticus

The menu at this local bookstore cafe may not have changed much, but just about everything else has. Like every other building on Yale’s campus, Atticus has finally gotten its own renovation, and the newly remodeled New Haven institution has never looked better. According to manager Jean Recapet, the cafe has been redone to complement the aesthetics of the Yale Center for British Art next door on Chapel Street.

“The new architecture shows a bit more concrete, and we raised the ceiling, added in new lighting and some artwork on the far wall,” Recapet said. “We’d had our last renovation in 1988, so the store was getting old and we took that as an opportunity to do a lot of things with the space.”

Atticus customers will now have access to not one, but two entrance doors leading to a new and improved takeout facility. The takeout counter is no longer awkwardly angled and leaves ample room both to peruse the delicious baked-goods display and to line up for a quick panino on the go.

While Recapet says the management literally ripped the store apart and started from scratch (with the sole exception of the bookshelves in the back), the new Atticus has the same amount of seating as the old cafe. A central island kitchen built of modern steel and rustic tiles is flanked by marble countertops and tables on either side — the perfect spot for grabbing a bowl of Atticus’s famous black bean soup and taking advantage of the cafe’s free wireless.

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