Ballou?s Wine Bar revolves around three prized delicacies: chocolate, wine, and coffee. From those staples, dozens of indulgent dishes ensue, including chocolate, Nutella, and peanut-butter-chocolate fondues and homemade truffles developed by Debbie, half of the husband-and-wife team that runs Ballou?s. Her chocolate fondue and homemade truffles are so deliciously decadent that they?ve earned the wine bar a spot on the Best of New Haven Reader?s Poll list for best desserts. In addition to rich desserts and froth-capped cups of cappuccino, guests can order wines from local and international vineyards, as well as a wide selection of pastas, sandwiches, and flat breads.
Owner and executive chef Greg Bozzi named his restaurant after the 1963 John Wayne movie, Donovan?s Reef. Bozzi fire-grills steaks and bakes lobster pies for the dinner rush. He tops burgers with fried onions rings and tosses crab meat and littleneck clams into bowls of marinara-covered linguine. Several nights a week, the eatery hosts live musical acts, trivia contests, and bird-calling competitions. Donovan?s Reef is also a certified green restaurant, with such eco-friendly aspects as energy-efficient lighting, a full-scale recycling program, and composting their food waste.
La Luna Ristorante sates Tuscan cravings with its homemade pastas, sandwiches, seafood, and more. Midday munchers can anchor incisors to the lunch menu's offerings, such as the veal parmigiana sandwich, which caps a veal cutlet with a jaunty tam of mozzarella and marinara sauce ($9), and calamari alla napolitano, a curly bed of deep-fried calamari adorned with pignoli nuts and cherry peppers ($8). Dinner-craving robbers can abscond with precious dishes of manicotti ($17) and fettuccini a La Luna, which sautées lobster tail and meat with shallots and scallions before setting it afloat in a creamy vodka-sauced sea ($22). Palette-pleasing wines by the glass or bottle make excellent mealtime companions, and live music on weekends keeps ears and eyes occupied from their ongoing feud over facial property lines.
The flames at Prime American Grille have escaped the kitchen. Not only do they live inside the sizzling-hot grill, they also exist atop flickering candles and inside the dining room's roaring fireplace. Flame-kissed rib-eye and new york strip steaks arrive at tables coated in house-made peppercorn, gorgonzola, or mushroom-and-onion sauces. Chefs also bolster their menu with ocean-fresh seafood, pizzas, pastas, and sandwiches. Bottles of wine litter a massive rack inside the restaurant's dining room, which boasts a warm color palette, dark woods, and strategically placed mirrors that make the space feel airy and light, like a helium balloon filled with tossed salad. On the weekends, Prime American Grille pulses with live music from DJs and bands, and each night, diners can sit at the full bar to watch sports on seven flat-screen televisions.
Serving international teas and finger sandwiches, Alexandra's Tea Room comes alive inside Branford Ballou's. Guests can stop in for a sip of South African rooibos tea?a caffeine-free variety chock-full of vitamins and minerals?or opt for familiar offerings of black, white, or green tea. These hot healing drinks pair with teatime staples such as scones and cucumber sandwiches.