Over the past few months, New Haven has seen some popular establishments closing their doors, while others have brought fresh business and innovation to Elm City.
Wall Street Pizza — formerly known as Naples Pizza — served the Yale and New Haven communities for over half a century before closing its doors last October. Since its founding in 1948, the eatery has been located on Wall Street between College and Temple, right next door to Blue State Coffee. Known as Yale’s original pizzeria, employees were reportedly unaware that the restaurant would be closing until the day after Oct. 25 — the last day customers were served.
“It is with sadness that we are announcing our decision to close Wall Street Pizza after many years of serving the New Haven and Yale community,” restaurant owner Celso Marrichi said in a statement to the News. “With changes in our personal life, it is time for us to step away from the demanding schedule of running a seven-day-a-week restaurant. It has been a very rewarding experience getting to know so many students, faculty, New Haven workers and professionals.”
Rose Prifitera — who was an employee for over 30 years — has a great history with Wall Street Pizza. Her husband owned the restaurant from 1972 until his passing in 1993, and her son briefly took ownership before selling the restaurant to Marrichi in 2008. Prifitera expressed a strong attachment to the building, and hoped to keep working in the building — now University-owned — regardless of the business that takes its place.
However, as one Elm City restaurant closed, another one opened.
Just east of the former pizzeria lies Pasta EATaliana –– down the block from New Haven foodie favorites, Sally’s Apizza and Frank Pepe’s Pizzeria. Unveiled this February, Giulio Laurentino — Naples native and restaurateur — plans to provide New Haven residents with fresh, homemade pasta and Neapolitan delicacies.
“If you taste the food in Naples, that’s the food I am bringing here,” Laurentino said. “I cook the same way that my mother and my entire family does, very simple. I hope to bring that here through fresh pasta, it’s unbelievable.”
In a town famous for its pies, Laurentino told the News that opening his new restaurant was no easy task. But within a week of Pasta EATaliana’s launch, the eatery had seen two fully booked nights. Alan Belchak, customer and Elm City resident, said that he enjoyed the food tremendously and gave it “five stars.” Gilrose Amando, another New Haven native and frequent restaurant-goer, said the food was excellent.
When asked about what it means to have a restaurant in Wooster Square — a neighborhood known for its vibrant Italian-American culture and cuisine — Laurentino got emotional.
“Like I always say, it makes me feel at home, and I don’t want to cry,” said Laurentino. “[Wooster Street is] a historic street full of Italian stories. I wouldn’t choose to have a restaurant anywhere else.”
While restaurants like Pasta EATaliana are serving up unique dishes –– such as saltimbocca and Genovese ragu –– a New Haven coffee shop has also begun a novel initiative.
Fussy Coffee, a longtime local establishment, has turned to New Haven’s artistic community to find new ways to engage its customers. The cafe began a program to feature photographs by local artists each month. Last November, Fussy Coffee highlighted David Pilot, a photographer and New Haven native. His artwork covered the walls, and during weekends, he hosted shows at the coffeehouse to speak about his work with customers and sell photographs to interested patrons.
“Fussy has helped me tremendously,” Pilot told the News. “I think coffee shops are excellent art galleries because people sit here — they aren’t expecting to see art, yet it’s there and they can take time to casually look at it.”
Fussy Coffee was jam-packed with Elm City residents and Yale students one November weekend of last year, with Pilot’s chosen photographs arranged in the back corner of the shop. Some attendees came solely to gaze at Pilot’s exhibit, while others came for coffee and stayed longer for the photos.
Bobcat Caruthers — who came to see Pilot’s last show — said that he doesn’t visit coffee shops often, but found the art show a night well-spent talking with friends, strangers and the artist himself.
Caruthers is an example of David Negreiro’s — the cafe’s owner — hope that the monthly art exhibit will “bring in a community” that never would have visited Fussy Coffee otherwise.
“An artist comes with their own community, so [showcasing them] is my way to connect multiple communities together,” Negreiro told the News. “It keeps the art fresh, never sterile, ever changing, and supports local artists and helps them build their network through the community we have.”
Fussy Coffee is situated at 290 Winchester Avenue.
Zaporah Price | firstname.lastname@example.org