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New Haven Pizza 101
New Haven has been on pizza-lovers' radar for decades. The apizza (pronounced "ah-beetz" by locals) is defined by its thin, chewy crust, which makes for a unique—and, some would argue, superior—pizza experience. From white clam pies to mashed potato–topped concoctions, here are our picks for the area's best pizzas.
Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana
This is where it all began: in 1925 Frank Pepe opened this eponymous pizza place (157 Wooster St. 203/865–5762 www.pepespizzeria.com) and created what would become the iconic New Haven–style pizza. Eager customers line up for hours to get a taste of the famous thin-crust pies, in particular, Frank Pepe's pièce de résistance—the white clam pizza. This masterful creation consists of olive oil, garlic, oregano, grated Parmesan cheese, and littleneck clams atop a thin crust.
Just two blocks from Frank Pepe's on Wooster Street (considered to be New Haven's Little Italy) is Sally's Apizza (237 Wooster Street 203/624-5271 www.sallysapizza.com), a rival of Frank Pepe's since 1938, when Salvatore Consiglio, Pepe's nephew, decided to break away from his relatives and open his own pizzeria. The result of this family feud is two competing pizzerias and a divided city: those who believe Frank Pepe's serves the best pizza and those who are devoted to Sally's. If you want to judge for yourself, head to Frank Pepe's first; Sally's doesn't open until 5 (and is closed Monday).
It's not what Modern Apizza (874 State St. 203/776-5306 www.modernapizza.com) has that sets it apart from the rest, but rather what it doesn't have: toppings. The pizzeria's signature "plain" pie is a thin crust with a layer of tomato sauce and just a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese. If you want mootz (mozzarella in New Haven-speak), then you have to ask for it. But why mess with a classic? Modern Apizza has been serving its signature pies since 1934, and business is still booming.
It doesn't surprise us that BAR (254 Crown St. 203/495–8924 www.barnightclub.com), a nightclub-cum-microbrewery, is in a college town and that its signature pie just happens to be bacon-and-mashed-potato-topped pizza—a college student's comfort-food dream. BAR is a relative newcomer (it opened in 1991), but it's giving the old-timers a run for their money. If you want to taste what this place does best, push aside any creeping thoughts of carbs and calories, and go for the masterpiece, a slightly charred, crispy-crusted pizza, topped with a thin layer of creamy mashed potatoes and bits of bacon.
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