New Haven is happening, from Yale Rep’s ‘Streetcar Named Desire,’ with Joe Manganiello, to great restaurants and museums (NY Daily News)

If you’re making the short trip north to see the ‘True Blood’ hunk play Stanley, stick around and explore the New Haven Green, the Omni hotel, ROIA Restaurant, Knights of Columbus Museum and other must-sees.

By Michael Shoule / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

 

New Haven is about to get a whole lot hotter.

Beginning Sept. 20, hunky “True Blood” werewolf Joe Manganiello will star as Stanley in the Yale Repertory Theatre’s production of “A Streetcar Named Desire.” Through Oct. 12, the actor known for his six-pack abs will heat up the stage and the Connecticut city.

Not that New Haven needs much help. Fall festivals, art museums, theaters and lots of fabulous food options make the town a must-visit.

Streets are laid out in a grid called the “Nine Square Plan” (picture a square with a tick-tack-toe board inside of it). The centerpiece of the grid is the beautiful New Haven Green, which is bordered on one side by three churches in varying architectural styles, each unique in their own right.

This same Green is abuzz with cultural and sporting events year round, including the East Rock West Rock music festival, running Sept. 20-28.

While New Haven’s busy calendar of events might encourage you to plan ahead for the 85-mile drive from New York City, being spontaneous works here considering all the great restaurants and cultural spots within walking distance.

Check in at the highly acclaimed Omni New Haven Hotel, where you can work out in their well-equipped exercise room or relax in the spa before indulging at John Davenport’s at the Top of the Park. The 19th-floor restaurant boasts spectacular views of Long Island Sound and the Yale campus, and serves breakfast, lunch and dinner daily.

Just around the corner from the Omni is the Shubert Theater, which opened in 1914 — two years after the Shubert brothers built their namesake theater in Manhattan.

The Shubert New Haven became the launching pad over the years for numerous Broadway hits, including the premieres of “A Streetcar Named Desire” with Marlon Brando, “The Sound of Music” and “Oklahoma!” — which was also composed and written in New Haven by Rodgers and Hammerstein.

Across the street from the Shubert is ROIA Restaurant, a labor of love from Meera Laube-Szapiro and her husband, executive chef Avi Szapiro.

The former Brooklynites have turned what once was the dining room of the Taft Hotel into one of the most visually appealing places to eat in New Haven.

Whether looking up beyond the balcony at the magnificent chandelier and plaster medallions or down at the mosaic tile floor, you can’t help but feel excited about the upcoming dining experience. The shaved asparagus topped with fresh Parmesan along with the char-grilled octopus were tasty starts to the delectable Arctic char entrée with sautéed greens, cipollini onions, pine nuts and lemon vinaigrette.

The next morning my family and I quickly came to understand why breakfast at Claire’s Corner Copia is mandatory. A New Haven landmark since 1975, its menu offers a slew of choices, including organic, vegan, gluten-free … and gluttonous.

With well over 100 restaurants within walking distance of the Green, it’s no surprise that the city hosts the semiannual New Haven Restaurant Week in November and April. One of the best ways to experience New Haven cuisine is with a food tour.

A good place to start the afternoon is the Cask Republic, which is adjacent to the Omni and boasts 53 continuously rotating taps to complement its selection of more than 80 bottled beers.

From there, head to BAR, which serves delicious brick-oven New Haven-style thin-crust pizza — bacon and potato is a popular option, as is the white clam pie — and wash it down with one of BAR’s four microbrews.

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