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November 16, 2022

NYC chef opens new eatery in prime Taft location

Photo | Liese Klein Chef Vincent Chirico cuts the ribbon at The Luke restaurant in New Haven's Taft Building on Nov. 16, 2022.

A chef with a well-reviewed restaurant in New York City cut the ribbon on his newest concept in New Haven at the Taft on Wednesday. 

The Luke, at 261 College St., showcases Chef Vincent Chirico’s “contemporary Mediterranean cuisine” and small plates. 

“I had an amazing opportunity with this property; it's a historic property,” Chirico said of the two-story space, once the Taft Hotel ballroom and home to a series of popular restaurants in past decades. “I'm really happy and excited to be here,” he said.

Chirico plans to divide the space into a 30-seat cafe at the entrance, a 50-seat fine-dining area and a bar area with snacks and smaller plates.

“The main concept for this property and for me to have it be a sustainable business long-term is we don't want just to be a fine dining restaurant… we want to have various experiences within the property,” Chirico said at Wednesday's ribbon-cutting ceremony. 

“The idea was to embrace the property, embrace how it connects to the neighborhood and the town, and try to have all sorts of folks coming in for various experiences,” Chirico said.

Described as a "brasserie, bar and cafe" on its website, the Luke’s dining room menu items for this month include a white asparagus salad with white truffle dressing, rigatoni with sausage and kale, and a ceviche of fluke with jalapeno, shallot, fuji apple and fennel.

Prices range from $13-17 for salads, $12-19 for seafood small plates and $18-27 for pastas. Larger main dishes meant to be shared were all listed on the website as "market price."

Smaller dishes are offered at the bar along with snacks and drinks at the “all-day café” section of the restaurant. 

The Luke’s prime location, near the Shubert Theatre and across the street from the College Street Music Hall, has been home to eateries including ROIA and Downtown at the Taft, and before that, Hot Tomato’s. Much of the 1912-era decor is intact, including ornate plaster ceilings.

Chirico also runs Coarse NYC, a restaurant in Manhattan that advertises itself as offering “raw and low-heat dishes paired with wine in a hip, sophisticated space.”  

“Despite its name, Coarse NYC serves some of the city’s most refined cuisine,” reads the headline of a 2019 review in Forbes magazine. 

Contact Liese Klein at

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