Beach Ave. East Haven * (203) 469-5450
On the drive to the East Haven Shore we passed boys in cars slowing
down to look at girls, empty lifeguard stands, summer cottages and
Paul's, our favorite pizza joint. All was right on this Jersey girl
Beachhead is located directly across from the Long Island Sound;
its legacy dates back to 1942. And while luxury condos yuppied up
around the little gay-friendly restaurant, the breathtaking views
What looks like original 1940s cabinetry--blond with fronts that
resemble a hi-fi console--the bar area is charming. As is the adjacent
seating area with seaside accessories (netting, buoys, fish, a
lighthouse). It's exactly what you want from a shorefront restaurant.
Yet our greeting, and that of a group who arrived before us, was
not as warm as the sea air. They were told to wait by a member of the
"How long?" asked the man.
"Can you tell me how long?
Silence. She continued to ring up a bill.
He shook his head and waited off to the side. The group was
"Table for two," said Joe.
"It'll be a few minutes," she said, without looking up.
Strange how we were made to wait, briefly though it was, as the
dinning room was only about two-thirds full.
What could have been a blemish on the evening, Kody, our sweet
waiter, remedied. He quickly chipped away at our Eastern block
He saved the night.
As did the food. And the drinks.
Joe started with what he described as a "simple yet
delicious" Mount Gay rum and tonic. I drank a house Merlot. (I
struggled with whether to order one of the classic summer
drinks--Malibu & Pineapple, Hurricane, or a Twisted
Cosmopolitan--but when I'm presented with too many options, I choke.)
The dining room is lined with comfy booths around the perimeter and
groupings of tables and chairs in the middle. Calming shades of taupe
walls are adorned with serene artwork. Nothing is intrusive or garish.
Nothing overpowers the glorious panoramic views.
The highest of honors goes to a special appetizer of calamari,
stuffed clams and stuffed mushrooms. Glory, glory hallelujah. Calamari
was dusted with cinnamon; stuffed mushrooms were small and filled with
a moist mixture, as were the steamers.
No sauce came with the calamari--none was needed. It was like
breakfast cereal seafood. Unlike anything we've tasted.
For an entree, I tried the shrimp and scallop veneziana ($16.50), a
massive piping-hot pile of angel hair pasta, asparagus, garlic, oil
and a hint of white wine. It was understated, refined, not showy.
Joe's zuppa de pesce ($20.95), a gargantuan amalgamation of
shellfish, scallops and cod, piled atop a horse-choking quantity of
fettuccine and smothered in a seemingly homemade red sauce, was a
revelation. Kody, so nice, offered, "One guy, not very big,
finished it." What he didn't say was this diner was rushed to
Yale-New Haven for an emergency zuppa de pesce-ectomy.
While its size was virtuous, its flavor was impeccable. The
mussels, clams and shrimp, along with the aforementioned scallops and
cod, were perfectly done and fresh as a soldier abroad in a sea of
WACs. The sauce actually tasted like tomatoes, rather than a gooey
heap of dissolved sugar. It's hard to imagine doing much better,
especially considering the price.
We finished, foregoing the homemade key lime pie, and made haste to
the bar to meet our friend Rich for an after-dinner drink. We were
happy to see that our greeter cheered up and was cordial. Perhaps it
was the rainbow that appeared in the sky after the rain.
Rainbows, and good food, have that effect on people.
Colleen Van Tassell can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org