There are some rules of thumb for naming a new restaurant in this town. You can pick something off-kilter and charming, like The Whale Wins. Or disturbingly visual, like How to Cook a Wolf. Or even something evoking the spirit of an old codger, like LloydMartin. But one thing to avoid at all costs? Naming a restaurant after the dearly departed.
When Steve Rosen and James Allard, the Blue C and Boom Noodle guys, opened a new eatery in U-Village last month, they broke form by choosing to call the place Elemental. But then again, the average diner at the new woodfired pizza place probably doesn't remember the high-brow restaurant with the same name tucked in a hush hush corner of Wallingford. That's because the average diner at Elemental Pizza is about 12 years of age.Opened just in time for the holiday rush, Elemental sits in between active wear and garden stores. It's housed in the same spot as the flash-in-the-pan Grace Kitchen and underwent a token refresh with West Elm chairs, hip light fixtures, and a small bar near the main entrance.
Seasoned U-Village diners can make an educated guess that any Blue C sibling is bound to be a safe haven for kids. On a recent Friday the place was filled to the brim, mostly with families. One exception was an older couple nervously sipping a bottle of red sandwiched between tables that included children.
The menu isn't afraid to mix in toppings like untrendy (but flavorful) sun dried tomatoes and pine nuts. Happily, ingredients are quality and include Zoe's Meats and Mama Lil's Peppers.
Elemental is still new, so it's hard to be overly critical of pies cut with disproportionately huge and razor thin slices. Or pre-steamed, drab rapini lying limp on an otherwise perfectly good sausage pie.
Menu bright spots include a plate of burrata with cherry tomatoes and a kicky rocket house salad. The Primo Pesto is a solid pick, arriving with circles of perfectly cooked fingerlings on a fresh pesto base. Gluten free crust is offered for a few bucks extra and can be paired with a pint of sans gluten Angry Orchard hard cider on draft.
Little ones can't go wrong with (the lone) kid menu pick of rigatoni and meatballs. But really, what kid goes to a pizza place that doesn't want cheese and sauce on dough? Odds are they'll gladly scarf down slices of the Fun Guy with criminis.
Servers are anxious to please and more than tolerant of the random wild child. Elemental may be working out the kinks, but it's still pretty, clean, well-lit, and reasonably priced. And really, sometimes that's all a parent dreams of on a Friday pizza night.