Clark’s is your mother’s diner, if your mother lived in Middle America circa 1950.
Located on Whitney Avenue, Clark’s Pizza and Restaurant unabashedly styles itself after the stereotypical American diners of a bygone era. Photos of classic ’50s icons such as Marilyn Monroe, James Dean and Elvis line the wall. The soda fountain offers up old-fashioned favorites such as raspberry lime soda and white birch beer. Families cram into red faux leather booths and couples sit on pint-sized stools sipping strawberry milk shakes. Kids press their faces against the glass pane of the dessert display case or beg their parents to buy them a chocolate-chip cookie from the jar next to the cash register.
The formula Clark’s follows is a safe one. The menu is understandably unadventurous, sticking with tried and true diner staples such as pizza, burgers and spicy buffalo wings. Greek and Italian specialties — including moussaka, souvlaki and calzones — are the only exceptions to Clark’s typical American fare. But it works.
Clark’s also boasts a number of brunch options and an array of quality sandwiches, particularly the lobster roll. Drenched in butter and cradled in a soft, slightly soggy bun, the lobster meat is fresh and generously heaped. Granted, it’s not the best lobster roll in New England, but with Mory’s on hiatus it’s nice to have another lobster roll within walking distance of central campus. The restaurant’s Greek and Caesar salads are also decent, but not particularly noteworthy, and the same goes for the french fries. It’s quality food, with few to no complaints.
But what Clark’s does best is pizza and ice cream. Their slices give Yale’s other local pizza places solid competition: more flavorful than Yorkside’s, thicker than A1’s and heartier than Naples’ (Wall Street Pizza for you sticklers), Clark’s pizza has a crust that’s still doughy and chewy without losing that crucial crunch. The ice cream, whether in a dish or in a milk shake, is the perfect creamy consistency. Slurp a strawful of the chocolate milk shake from a tall, old-fashioned ice-cream glass, and you’re guaranteed to feel like a kid again.
While Clark’s Pizza and Restaurant is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. everyday, its annex next door — the creatively named “Clark’s Dairy and Luncheonette”— is open from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. (9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sundays). The menus are fairly interchangeable, with the caveat that the luncheonette caters more to a breakfast and brunch crowd, while the restaurant is geared more toward students looking for a place to study or grab a nighttime snack.
The service is also of a high standard. Staff greet customers less than 30 seconds after entering the diner and seat and serve them almost as rapidly. While Clark’s always seems to have a solid flow of clientele, they’re rarely full, which makes for a dynamic ambience without the agonizingly long wait that seems to be a fixture of other restaurant experiences (A1 anyone?). Plus, once you’re through the door no one’s in a rush to make you leave. Whether you’re grabbing a slice to go or want to hole up for a three-hour lunch on a Saturday, Clark’s is happy to serve you at your preferred pace, and with its proximity to Silliman, TD and Science Hill, it’s an ideal place to stop and linger with friends after class.