What is there not to love about a restaurant called Goodfellas that has a continuous loop of its namesake movie on various screens throughout the bar and dining room? Regardless of the punctuation in that last line, that is certainly not a question. Because, in fact, there is much to love about Goodfellas, a dependable Italian favorite located on State Street in New Haven.
At Goodfellas you will find beloved traditional Italian dishes thoughtfully elevated with locally sourced ingredients. For instance, there's the amazing starter, Fiore di Latte, which takes prosciutto and handmade mozzarella to new levels by wrapping it in escarole and drizzling it with aged balsamic. Or the Pork Chop Milanese, at many places served as a simple lightly breaded center cut chop, here it is topped with arugula, fresh mozzarella and tomato chutney with flavorful results. The myriad pastas are fresh and cooked al dente with stunning, savory sauces. At lunch, there are gangster-inspired paninis, such as the aptly named Lucabrasi, made with white albacore tuna, onion, and Swiss or American cheese. You know. Because he "sleeps with the fishes." Bah dum ch. Anyway...
The usual lunch and dinner menus are full of such surprises, but the special Restaurant Week menu is a steal, with three courses (appetizer, entree, and dessert) offered for the wallet-friendly price of $32. And there were ample choices, as compared to other, more limited Restaurant Week menus found in the Elm City.
I (Amy) dined at Goodfellas solo last week, before heading to my 5:30 Artisan Breads class at Gateway Community College. I was thrilled that they were open, as New Haven restaurants tend to close between lunch and dinner, making it difficult to find a decent meal before class. I sat alone at the bar around 3:45, and by the time 5:00 rolled around, the bar and most of the tables in sight were filled. The bartender, Bobby, worked alone, but he handled the business without leaving a lone diner like myself feeling ignored or unimportant. While I sipped my Chianti, I watched the muted screen, supplying the curse-laced dialogue of the movie in my own head. (As Goodfellas is in my top five movies of all time, I know every line. "Now go home and get your #!@$'in shinebox!")
For dinner, I decided to do my own play on surf and turf and ordered the Oysters Rockefeller and "Chef Gennaro's signature dish" the Filet Cognac. I was served three sea-salty oysters swimming in a vaguely sweet herby Pernod-laced bechamel sauce topped with bitter spinach, sharp cheese and crunchy breadcrumbs. They were beautiful and I was transported to my first Oysters Rockefeller, from Antoine's in New Orleans, where they were invented. The Filet was composed of two perfectly peppered medallions that were sooooo tender, I had one of those "Aha!" moments about how filets are tenderloins. Duh. There was enough lobster meat topping the steak to make me feel like I was getting a bargain. The side dish, silky mashed potatoes, were seasoned only to enhance the potato flavor itself, and the entire dish was finished in a velvety Cognac cream sauce that made me wish I had a spoon.
And yet, there was still dessert to come. Bread class was beckoning, so I asked barkeep Billy what he would choose. Without hesitation he said, "The cupcake," and I said, "Sold!" I requested it to-go and enjoyed it later that night after class. The moist chocolate cake was layered with cannoli cream and covered with a sheen of dark chocolate glaze. Luscious.
All for $32?!?! What a meal. Oh, New Haven, please bring back Restaurant Week soon. Until then, I will be content to dine at Goodfellas no matter the price. ("For us to live any other way was nuts.")
Goodfellas Restaurant is located at 702 State Street in New Haven, CT and further information, including hours, menus, events, and more can be found on their website.