I f you’ve never ventured into Consiglio’s Restaurant on Wooster Street, now is a particularly dramatic time to do so.
For the past three years, the restaurant—family-owned for 75 years and now run by a third generation of the Consiglio family helmed by Trish Consiglio Perrotti—has been adding entertainment to its menu. Indoors or on the back patio (weather permitting), the eatery has embraced a peculiar style of dinner theatre, with spaghetti musicals by Liz Fuller featuring thin-crust plots about garlic festivals and vampires that encouraged the audience to actively participate in the silliness and fun. In previous years you might have found yourself wearing a garlic bud hat to go with your bowl of penne a la vodka or singing a Frank Sinatra tune on stage.
This summer, the offerings are a little different. With New Haven actor Michael Sayers (pictured above) at the microphone, you have the choice of a variety show or a murder mystery. Sayers is proficient at both, but he’s especially practiced at the latter, having penned and executed whodunnits—60 and counting—for decades, on the Camelot Cruise Line and at college and corporate campuses from Maine to Maryland and as far west as Ohio.
Right now, he’s preparing a fun-filled comedy and variety show “Solo Duo Duet” for Saturday, August 10. The evening starts with a choose-your-own-adventure three-course dinner at 6 p.m.; you might order an appetizer of Fried Calamari and an entree of Cheese Tortellini Puttanesca with Shrimp, maybe topped off by a slice of Chocolate Mousse Cake. At 7 p.m., emcee Michael Sayers takes the stage and delivers songs, skits and games that will have you happily engaged, whether you’re initially eager or not.
A special treat this Saturday is a guest appearance by long-time actor of stage, screen and television James Noble, who, at 91 years young, is still bitten by the show-biz bug. Noble is best remembered as Governor Gatling on the TV show Benson, which aired on ABC from 1979 to 1986. He’ll do a staged reading of “A Graceful Exit” by Frederick Stroppel, a tale about a politician who commits a sexual indiscretion and feels the urge to resign. In addition, there will be a “Girl from Ipanema” contest, a TV music trivia game, a scavenger hunt and songs from The Beatles to Broadway.
On Friday, August 23, Sayers will try a killer new venture: a totally improvisational murder mystery where dinner guests suggest the plot, the motive, the victim and perhaps even the culprit. Detective Chester Hadlyme must solve the crime; Sayers and his troupe of actors must survive without a script.
On many Thursdays, Consiglio’s offers a different kind of show: a cooking demonstration, where participants watch a seasonal Italian four-course meal being prepared. Maureen Muzzo led the classes for years but has passed the apron to Consiglio’s Chef Scott Gordon in recent months. On Thursday, August 15, Chef Scott will be creating Grilled Portobello with Sun-Dried Tomato and Gorgonzola, Tagliatelle with Fresh Pomodoro Sauce, Grilled Swordfish with Peppers and Orange Basil Butter and Peach Melba Shortcake. In addition to observing someone cook who really knows the craft, participants get to dine on the delicious results and take home a recipe booklet. Future dates are September 12, 19 and 26; October 3, 10, 17 and 24; and November 7, 14 and 28. (These fill up quickly, I’m told, so it’s recommended to reserve early.)
Whether or not you can make it to (or into) the performance nights or the cooking demos, you can still of course dine at Consiglio’s. Pull up a chair for lunch or dinner and dig through a menu stuffed like ravioli with various Italian ingredients and dishes, plus wine for toasting and crusty, freshly baked bread for sharing.
Mangia bene! And enjoy the show.
165 Wooster St, New Haven (map)
Lunch: Tue-Fri 11:30-2:30. Dinner: Tue-Thur 4:30-9pm, Fri-Sat 4:30-10pm, Sun 3-8pm
Dinner Theatre at Consiglio’s | Cooking Demonstrations at Consiglio’s
Written by Bonnie Goldberg. Photographed by Dan Mims.