By Michael P. Walsh
Special to the Voice
Mayor Nancy R. Rossi cut a blue ribbon with Moby Dick’s owners Doug “the Rake” Ruickoldt and Evan Mink on Sept. 3 to celebrate the grand opening of the “raw bar cafe” at 560 Campbell Ave.
The quaint, 630-square-foot cafe offers “cold beer, cocktails, oysters and clam chowder” and is nestled in a plaza of small businesses near Center Street — in the former home of the original Moby Dick’s Cafe, which operated from July 1985 until owner Dick Turner’s death in October 1989.
The remodeled Campbell Avenue location, in the heart of the city’s bustling downtown business district, most recently housed Sonny’s Cafe, in addition to other bar-restaurant establishments since the late ’80s.
Marking the afternoon event with Rossi and the owners were Ruickoldt’s wife, Kelly, and sons, Nicholas and Douglas; Nicholas Ruickoldt’s girlfriend, Julie Hutchinson; Moby Dick’s manager Gina Calabrese; state Rep. Dorinda Borer, D-West Haven; City Council Chairman Peter V. Massaro, D-6, and council members Gary Donovan, D-at large, and Colleen O’Connor, R-at large; City Clerk Patricia C. Horvath; city Tax Collector Dorothy Chambrelli; and Simon McDonald, the director of membership and marketing for the Milford Regional Chamber of Commerce.
Moby Dick’s modern barroom is bedecked with nautical-inspired knickknacks and complemented by a raw bar, featuring freshly shucked oysters and other “upscale raw” seafood dishes prepared by executive chef Jeff Lamberti. The space is further accentuated by black-and-white art deco tile floors, oyster white-painted walls and white subway tile walls, and walnut wooden beams, moldings and shelves.
The magnificent woodwork in the ship-themed pub is enhanced by brass porthole windows, dark brown leather bar chairs and dark brown wooden high-top tables.
The tavern’s signature cocktail, along with a line of local craft beers, is the Captain Campbell Collins, an iced drink made with gin or vodka and mixed with club soda, lemon juice and simple syrup.
The cocktail is named in honor of William Campbell, the British adjutant who spared the life of the Rev. Noah Williston of the First Congregational Church of West Haven and later died in Allingtown as part of the British Invasion of New Haven on July 5, 1779. Residents cherished Campbell’s merciful deed so much they christened West Haven’s main thoroughfare as Campbell Avenue.
Moby Dick’s is open for lunch and dinner daily starting at noon.