Slice of a Comet
Comet Ping Pong, the long-awaited New Haven-style pizzeria from Carole Greenwood, the chef of Buck's Fishing & Camping, recently opened and is poised to become one of the area's coolest restaurants. Presently, the spot is no culinary destination -- there are only four wine choices and one beer on draft -- but it feels like the ultimate dream hangout from a retro teen movie and the background music plays A Flock of Seagulls, Frankie Goes to Hollywood and, essentially, all your favorite songs from every John Hughes film to aid the feel.
If I hadn't called ahead to check that Comet was open, I wouldn't have thought it was in business. With no sign at present and no bright lights illuminating the new neighbor to Buck's, it's pretty easy to miss the little gem. Indeed, there have been plenty of times that I've looked in on the darkened space hopeful for an open door. Last year, this was one of the '06 restaurant openings I was most eager for, and I've spent months anticipating the opportunity to test my skills on the ping pong table.
Inside, the patchy walls resemble a room with its wallpaper recently removed. It has an unfinished, unrefined look that continues on the ceiling with exposed beams and paneling giving diners the feeling of eating in an old warehouse. To further the hip, underground feel, the servers wear their own clothes. It's a pretty ironic setup for a chef known for her conformity to set structure.
Booths are constructed from wooden planks with blue tabletops that resemble ping pong tables. The theme continues throughout the restaurant with bathroom artwork and large, round lights. If you feel like some friendly competition before or after dinner, the expansive back room houses three ping pong tables. Last night, they were available, but it'll be no time before swarms of people are waiting to nab a paddle.
The menu, on the same black board with sliding white letters that you'd see outside any elementary school administration office, sits atop the window into the kitchen. The choices are not many. Decide between red or white personal-sized pizza and customize it with about 16 toppings, including smoked mozzarella, fontina, pepperoni, olives and baked eggplant. One pie came out over-cooked, but both red and white are pleasantly smattered with pesto on dough tinged with sweetness. My eager waiter mentioned that each pizza came with basil, but failed to convey that the basil had been ground into a heaping portion of pesto, so I unwittingly muddled its flavor with an ambitious spread of spicy peppers, extra cheese and garlic.
Continuing the retro hipster feel, the pizzas arrive on glistening silver trays that my dining companion felt would be very useful come sledding season. The only other menu options are a house or Caesar salad, which arrive in little wooden bowls and are overpriced at over $6.
Renowned as a food perfectionist, Greenwood should have her pies more than passable before long and I can only imagine the wait once word gets out. Until then, I'll be relishing the opportunity to practice my serve and my ability to match ingredients to pesto.
Posted by: great service and scene terrible prices | October 18, 2006 2:03 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: Susan | October 19, 2006 11:01 AM | Report abuse
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