Thanks to Jeff and Kristin Tassiello, Yalies will soon have a place other than the Wright Nuclear Structure Laboratory to search for fusion in New Haven.
After owning and managing six restaurants in New York City, Jeff Tassiello has decided to set up shop with his wife, Kristin, in New Haven with an American-fusion restaurant and lounge, The Blue Pearl. The restaurant has received a large increase in success since opening its doors at the beginning of the summer, Tassiello said. At The Blue Pearl, patrons can expect classic American food with a creative twist and inventive cocktails set in an atmosphere meant to dazzle the eyes.
The Blue Pearl is located on 130 Court St., which, in the past, has been considered a 9-to-5 destination. Clientele is on the rise in downtown New Haven, with an increase in young professionals and high-rise apartment buildings, which means it can sustain more clubs and restaurants than it could before, said Scott Healy ’96, executive director of the Town Green Special Services District. The Blue Pearl will help create more 24-hour foot traffic in that neighborhood, and as a result more businesses will want to occupy the surrounding spaces, Healy said.
An even range of people, from those in their 20s to those in their 60s, have been frequenting the hot spot, including some Yale undergraduate and graduate students, Tassiello said.
“It’s really important to us that students know that there is something new here. Not a club. Not a theme bar. It’s SoHo meets Sobe. We want them to come and feel like they can bring their parents too,” Tassiello said.
Chef Dana Smith Jr., who has received six two- to three-star reviews at previous restaurants, created the unadorned, easy to understand menu, which includes macaroni and cheese with lobster, Alice’s meatloaf, and lollipop lamb chops. Smith gussies up traditional American dishes, creating a type of food Tassiello calls “creative American cuisine.” The prices of appetizers range from $8 to $15, and the prices of main courses range from $10 to $21. For those more interested in the bar and lounge scene, The Blue Pearl offers a wide variety of fondues and martinis.
The design techniques used in The Blue Pearl create an atmosphere in which the restaurant and lounge, though divided, flow as one continuous space. The front contains the bar and lounge, complete with large white couches and upholstered bar stools. Behind the bar is a large plasma screen television that plays classic Orson Welles movies or old Humphrey Bogart talkies. Tassiello said the experience he gained from his New York City restaurants, such as The Velvet Rope, inspired him to add a lounge area. Tassiello said he thought New Haven had been missing a true lounge.
“The light, airy room is lined with flowing curtains that evoke such late-model see-and-be-seen hotspots as Madonna’s Delano in Miami or Asia de Cuba in New York. Like those places, [The] Blue Pearl feels more like a hypertrendy lounge than a restaurant. Clearly, a lot of thought and money went into the design here, top to bottom — It’s a fun spot,” said Robin Goldstein LAW ’02, co-author of “The Menu: A relentlessly opinionated guide to eating in & around New Haven, Connecticut,” in an e-mail.
Behind the bar is the restaurant, which spills into an outdoor garden, reminiscent of both a Los Angeles cafe and a New York City back stoop. The women’s bathroom, which dates back to 1968, is the only thing left from The Town Squire Restaurant, which stood in The Blue Pearl’s place for 28 years before closing about a year ago. The bathroom evokes a 60’s psychedelic vibe that blends well with the rest of the scene.
The kitchen is open weekdays from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. and Saturdays from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. The bar and lounge area will remain open until 12:30 a.m. during the week and until 1:30 a.m. “late night” Saturday.