New Haven has a good handle on the pizza situation, with New Haven-style pizza championed by a few big players, and done well all over Connecticut. This opens the door to creative interpretations and combinations. Da Legna in New Haven offers interesting and delicious gourmet pizzas alongside a hefty menu of small plates and salads, brought to us by the team of Dan Parillo and Dave Foster.
Parillo is known for his inventive pizzas at Pizzeria Portofino in Madison, and Foster's culinary imagination has already won over New Haveners. With Parillo on pizzas and Foster on salads and small plates, the menu at Da Legna reads like an adventurous foodie's dream.
On a recent visit, a friend and I went to town on reinterpreted old favorites and new food experiences, and it was lovely. The crispy mac and cheese wedge ($4) is quite literally a wedge of macaroni and cheese, crispy on the outside and gooey on the inside. It's big enough to share, but it's perfectly understandable if you decide to keep it all to yourself. The wild mushroom quesadilla with truffle sour cream ($8) was equally crispy and gooey, leaving us feeling like refined grown-ups for loving it.
The goat cheese tartlet, with its caramelized shallot honey balsamic glaze and apples ($5), was so delicious and evenly warm, it was hard not to order a second. Zuppa di clams ($9) comes either red or white (we chose white), was super buttery and did not skimp on the garlic. My favorite was the tuna tartare stuffed grilled avocado ($9), quite like a deconstructed California roll, minus the rice.
For a salad, I picked the option that was least familiar to me: rocket lettuce, fried egg, slab bacon, toast and bleu cheese vinaigrette ($9). The combination of the lettuce, egg yolk and vinaigrette blended flavors that I never thought to put with each other. It was eye-opening and delicious. We opted for the Barbecue di Maiale pizza ($13 for 12 inch pie; $18 for 16 inch pie), which is barbecue pulled pork, mashed potato and roasted corn off the cob, all lurking together under cheddar cheese. It was smoky, sweet and tangy.
Da Legna also offers a number of vegan and gluten-free options, house-infused liquors, a whole mess of scotch and Foxon Park sodas. Bring the family or go on a date, you'll be able to please everyone in your party.
Da Legna, 858 State St., New Haven, 203-495-9999, dalegna.com.