New Haven has an affinity for the old. This is, after all, a nearly 375-year-old New England city, with all the usual hallmarks: an Ivy League university (Yale); ­a spacious Puritan-constructed downtown “green,” or grassy town square; graceful if peeling Victorian architecture; even a nickname after trees (Elm City). Fortunately, that respect for the past extends to the historic city’s cuisine, defined as it is by a handful of old-school, family-owned, working-class businesses that keep tradition alive.

There’s pizza, of course, an institution here ever since a Neapolitan immigrant named Frank Pepe began cooking “apizza” in his bakery on Wooster Street, igniting a trend—not to mention a distinct and delicious style of pie—that continues to draw legions of fans today. But other businesses—other remains of a once-larger Italian community, other beloved local products, even the country’s original “hamburger sandwich” purveyor—are likewise still run by third- or fourth-generation family members in New Haven. This is a town that values authenticity and tradition, a fact so obvious the minute you engage anyone behind a counter. It’s a long-ingrained love you can taste, too.

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