As someone who lives on campus, I eat out way too much. While at one point last year I ate at Ivy Noodle so frequently I had a tab, and the Yorkside waitresses know me by name, I can’t say that I haven’t been looking for new places with higher-quality options. The new Box 63 gives students an incredible alternative with fresh, delicious food, a smorgasbord of choices and a friendly waitstaff to the boot.
It’s no wonder that the atmosphere upon entering Box 63 is relaxed and inviting given that the owner, Carl, is a restaurant concept developer. Despite having a fully stocked bar upstairs, the restaurant doesn’t feel “bar-y” and instead invites the consumer to sit down and enjoy a leisurely meal.
The menu, originally pages long, features a myriad of ~$10 traditional comfort foods with a twist. Classics like mac and cheese are upgraded to “Adult Mac N’ Cheese” ($16.67) which features “lobster, green onion, roasted red pepper, monery jack and aged cheddar cream baked with campanelle” (traditional mac ’n’ cheese is also offered for $10.83).
I tried the eggplant sticks ($9.43) (a specialty, according to the menu), the “Hawaiin” burger ($11.67) and “The big apple” pizza ($9.87). The burger was the highlight of the meal; with handcut fries and a juicy burger that doesn’t soak the potato bun, Box’s adventurous twist on an American classic featured “bacon, cheddar cheese, grilled pineapple, jalapeno and tangy bbq sauce.”
The big apple pizza was a close second with an incredibly thin crust, “roast apple, smoked bacon, caramelized onion, gorgonzola, mozzarella, drizzled with balsamic reduction and fresh mint.” The ingredients worked together well, and the portion was definitely for four or more people, but I felt that at times the balsamic reduction was a little too sweet and the pieces with less apple were definitely more enjoyable.
Rounding out the savory dishes were the eggplant sticks, which at first I found to be a little bland. After the waiter brought out the three original sauces, however, they were transformed by the wasabi-cucumber dipping sauce (also great with fries). The sticks themselves needed salt or pepper or something to give them a kick, but to Box’s credit, the dipping sauces that accompanied our entire meal did the trick.
Of course, I gave in and tried dessert. The waiter had been raving about their twist on “PB&J” so we reluctantly decided to try it. This dessert is actually called the PB&J ($5.43) and could only be described as heavenly. Ready? Picture an airy cream cheese-frosting cake sandwiching a layer of peanut butter. There’s more: the cake was encased in chocolate ganache and accompanied by a fresh wild berry compote. The dessert was gone in seconds.
What is perhaps most refreshing about Box 63 is that virtually everything is made in-house (the ice cream and the buns are their only store-bought items). In a restaurant age where most American food is frozen and unimaginative, Box 63 is a breath of fresh air to both a surprisingly American food-free New Haven, and the poor-quality diner culture at large.
Although perhaps a bit pricey for a college budget, you can check out Box 63 on the corner of Park and Broadway any day of the week until 11:00 p.m.