It’s a gorgeous day in New Haven, you’re downtown and hungry. You feel like something low-key, casual, but maybe customized a bit for your taste. And you’d love to sit outside and soak up the sunshine. You’d better head to Temple Grill.
Partners Tony Marchitto, chef, Brian Gilhuly, bar manager, and Chris Candido, host, asked themselves, “Where’s that American bar and grill in New Haven?” and answered it in 2004 by opening Temple Grill.
Marchitto and Gilhuly were childhood friends in West Haven. Marchitto got his culinary start at Platt Technical High School in Milford. Originally interested in carpentry and woodworking, the culinary instructors there steered him to a career in food. After getting his degree at the Culinary Institute of the Arts he traveled in Europe, then apprenticed locally to chef Paul Liscio. He took a break to work as a food broker, then Marchitto re-opened the legendary Snack Shop at the corner of State and Humphrey Streets. Once again the line for the shop’s roast beef went out the door. That went on for two years when a fire broke out in the building. The building’s owner decided to take the Snack Shop space for herself and that ended Marchitto’s run on State Street.
Meanwhile, Gilhuly had been running the Diesel Lounge for a dozen years. They teamed up with Candido and redeveloped the former Diva space on Temple Street into Temple Grill, with seating for 40 inside and 60 outside.
Candido had said to Marchitto, “I just want a casual place for friends to come to eat and drink. Not a bar and not a white-tablecloth restaurant.” Remembering Fitzwilly’s, Marchitto continues to describe Temple Grill as “what was called a ‘fern bar’ in the 80s, where young professionals could walk in and you could get your nice glass of wine and a little bit better of a burger. It certainly had an all-service bar, it was the beginning of the evolution of the today’s gastro-pub. You could get wine in a really nice glass, have a burger with that really nice glass of cabernet, and get great value for the money.”
“Comfort food is where we are,” he says. The specials menu changes every other week and allows them to do more ethnic food, have fun, and do different things. They offer full and half portions. Marchitto’s style is to keep his dishes simple, not muddling or burying the ingredients.
Diners have a lot of control over their meals. They can make their burgers, their salads just the way they want. “Everything is customizable. If we have the ingredients we’ll make it. That’s what ultra casual is.”
Restaurant Website: http://templegrill.com/
• The Detes: 152 Temple St., New Haven. 203-773-1111. Open seven days, Sunday through Thursday 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday through Saturday 11:30 a.m. to 12 a.m.
• Price Range: Salads start at $4.50, appetizers $6.50-11, sandwiches $8.50-10.50, entrees and pastas (half or full portions): $11.50-18.
• Style of Food: Ultra-casual comfort-food
• Favorite dishes: build-your-own salad, meat loaf, burgers, sandwiches
• Drinks: full bar, full wine list
• Vegetarian/Gluten-free available: yes
• Outdoor seating: lots
• Events: yes