Karen Lin, Photo Editor

As masking mandates in the city begin to lift, popular New Haven eats and restaurants are coming alive with new deals amid an expanded Restaurant Week held from March 27 to April 9.

Officials announced the details of the week in a March 25 press conference. The owners of several participating restaurants joined Mayor Justin Elicker and other city officials outside Ricky D’s Rib Shack, championing the resilience of small businesses throughout the pandemic and highlighting the City’s outdoor dining program. This year’s Restaurant Week, which will last for two weeks, will feature 53 eateries, offering discounts, add-ons, special menus and fixed-price meals. 

“Hospitality, heart, culture, tourism is a significant part of our economic mix,” said New Haven Economic Development Administrator Michael Piscitelli, acknowledging the personable aspects of local dining and the contributions of the food industry to a thriving city economy. “Over 16 percent of the jobs pre-pandemic were in hospitality. This is a sector that we need to support and provide the opportunity for everyone to recover together.”

Elicker recalled a time he ate at Ricky D’s and the conversations he had with Ricky D. Evans, the owner. Evans’ business started as a food truck before growing into a restaurant at 302 Winchester Ave., serving a variety of cookout foods and Southern recipes. 

Evans’ restaurant journey, along with many others, has seen roadblocks throughout the pandemic, when social distancing guidelines and masking mandates triggered a significant drop in the number of people going out and visiting city pubs and shops. The businesses that did not close had to adapt their structure to cater to more takeout options, Elicker said. He urged the public to celebrate this “pivot” to where shops and restaurants are just beginning to stand on their feet again.

Among the participating restaurants are Blue Orchid Pan Asian Cuisine and Bar, Chaps Grill, Elm City Social. and Christopher Martins Pub. Participating restaurants represent cuisines from various cultures and each offer one of the following special programs: prix fixe meals beginning at $20 per person, 20 percent discounts or complimentary add-ons to meals. New Haveners can find the full list of restaurants and their offers here. 

“It’s time to show that New Haven is open for business,” Elicker said, noting that the beginning of 2022 was particularly difficult due to the Omicron wave. “It’s up to us all as a community to help support our restaurants to make sure that they bounce back as our city bounces back.”

Restaurant Week has evolved and grown over the years. It now includes both full service restaurants and limited restaurants, according to Market New Haven Marketing & Communications Director Bruno A. Baggetta. This year’s event features participating restaurants across eight neighborhoods that offer a variety of breakfast, lunch and dinner options. The team also organized and secured parking deals with the city so that people outside of New Haven can enjoy city eats while visiting. 

“Our restaurants are the life of New Haven,” Baggetta said, thanking business owners and the event’s organization team. 

Now in its 14th consecutive year, New Haven Restaurant Week — the first of its kind in the state — is made possible by financial support from the city, Yale New Haven Hospital and Yale University.

BRIAN ZHANG
Brian Zhang covers COVID-19 and Yale New Haven Health, as well as housing and homelessness. Originally from Brooklyn, New York, he is a student in Davenport majoring in English and creative writing.