Every year before the dining halls open, students get a chance to sample the best of what New Haven’s eateries have to offer. Restaurants along Chapel Street are packed with Yalies devouring plates of pad thai and pasta primavera. Students take late-afternoon strolls to Wooster Square to get down with a few slices of margherita in the neighborhood where the pizza pie was introduced to America.

Then something happens. Dining halls open, classes start and suddenly no one has the time or interest to explore the Elm City’s culinary landscape. When Saturday night rolls around presenting a perfect opportunity to delve into New Haven’s hopping restaurant scene, the only thing Yalies can think about spending money on is kamikaze shots at Toad’s.

Well, spend away! Getting a taste of the city’s gastronomic delights in the comfort of your own dining hall doesn’t require a wallet — just a little imagination.

Visitors always ask who makes the best pizza in New Haven – Sally’s or Pepe’s? Now, you can say, “Me!” If they don’t believe you, take them on a stroll through the salad bar with a sauced-up pita in hand. Throw on your favorite toppings, give that bad boy a spin in the microwave and you’re on your way to putting Yorkside out of business.

So you love Rudy’s frites, but you can never get in because you keep forgetting the birth date on your fake ID? Tell that bouncer he can take his 30 sauces and shove ’em. Whip up some mayonnaise, ketchup, and hot sauce, ask your grill manager for a sprinkle of cayenne pepper and you’ll get the great taste of Rudy’s Samurai sauce without the inconvenience of smelling up your pretty party clothes. Give those fries from Commons a shake of salt and pepper and a drizzle of olive oil, and run ‘em through the toaster. People will look at you like your crazy, but they’ll be the ones who belong in a mental institution for not indulging in the crisped-to-perfection ecstasy only a Rudied Commons frite can bring.

Pepe’s Pizza Without the Two-Hour Wait

1 pita (Use whole-wheat for a heartier crust.)

3 tbsp. tomato sauce (If it’s not out, flash a smile at the grill manager and he’ll hook you up.)

1/2 cup shredded cheese (Use mozzarella for an authentic pizza, but for an ambitiously appetizing pie, go crazy with provolone, cheddar and whatever else is available.)

1/2 cup finely chopped veggies (Broccoli, mushrooms, peppers … make your momma proud.)

1/4 cup sliced meats (Pepperoni is available at the salad bar, but experiment with some less traditional cuts. Satisfy your inner environmentalist by crumbling up a grass-fed burger.)

1 Lightly toast pita. Evenly lather on tomato sauce, leaving a half-inch around the edges. Combine veggies and meats in a bowl and microwave for 30 seconds.

2 Sprinkle cheese over pita. Top with veggies and meats. Microwave for a minute (or two if you weren’t shy with the cheese).

3 Enjoy every bite in front of jealous onlookers waiting in line at Pepe’s.

Rudy’s Frites for Failed Fake IDs

2 cups Commons French fries

2 tbsp. olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

3 tbsp. mayonnaise

1 tbsp. ketchup

1 tsp. hot sauce

A pinch of cayenne pepper (Ask your grill manager. If he looks at you funny, tell him your sinuses are stuffed.)

1. Arrange fries on a plate. Drizzle olive oil and sprinkle salt and pepper to taste. Lightly toast seasoned fries.

2. Combine mayonnaise, ketchup, and hot sauce in bowl. Stir until pale orange color is achieved. Add cayenne pepper.

3. Savor your “Rudied” Commons frites and save your fake ID for later.