"Plain" Pie at Sally's Apizza
Sally's serves up the quintessential New Haven "plain" pie, which means crust, sauce, and freshly grated aged (in this case pecorino Romano) cheese. If you want mozzarella you have to ask for it. But why would you?! You won't miss it because their crisp-chewy pie strikes just the right balance of pizza flavor and texture.
Colony Grill's Hot Oil Topped Pie
Simply put, Colony Grill serves bar-style pizza at its best. Old school to the core, this Stamford pizza-tavern has been in business for over 75 years. The ultra thin pizzas are crispy, just this side of crunchy, making a 12-inch pie perfectly sized for personal pizzas. And the topping you would be remiss to miss? The signature hot oil (chile-pepper-infused oil) pie marked with a stinger pepper. To visit Colony Grill and not get this "topping" would be a wasted trip.
Colony Grill: 172 Myrtle Avenue, Stamford CT 06902 (map); 203-359-2184;
Modern Apizza's Mozzarella and Sausage Pie
Firing pies in an oil-fueled brick oven that reaches up to a thousand degrees yields beautifully charred pies at State Street's Modern Apizza. They have a reputation for being heavy handed with the cheese, but ask them to go light on the mozz and the smoky crust, fresh tomato sauce, and locally made Lamberti sausage and you'll have a little slice of pizza heaven. The pies here are thinner than your typical New Haven apizza, but what the skinny pies lack in rise, they make up for in flavor.
Zuppardi's Clam Pie
While New Haven is home to Connecticut "apizza" and keeper of some mighty coal oven flames, the gas oven at Zuppardi's in West Haven is making the best clam pizza we've ever tasted. The crusts here are on the thick side by Connecticut standards, but more crust is a good thing because of the toasty, wheaty complexity and crispy chew that characterizes Zuppardi's dough. However it is the tender, briny, shucked to order clams that place this pie in the pantheon of great pizza. This pie sets the gold standard for clam pies everywhere.
Roseland Apizza's "Plain" Pie
Opened in the same Connecticut golden age of pizza as the big boys in New Haven, Roseland Apizza has been serving up fantastic pies in Derby, CT since 1935. With a crust on the slimmer side of the New Haven style, Roseland's pies are more akin to Modern than Sally's or Pepe's, but the thinner pie doesn't come at the expense of structural support. And while their crusts will withstand the wide and weighty toppings on offer, it the simple plain pie that haunts our dreams. The thick, rich tomato sauce along with their oregano dominant herbs, and a light dusting of pecorino Romano is all the topping we need.
Roseland Apizza: 350 Hawthorne Avenue, Derby CT 06418 (map); 203-735-0494
The Italian Job from Mulberry Street Pizza
The pies at this Manchester, CT pizzeria land somewhere between New York and New Haven style. While their "plain" pies get a Rays' sized heaping of cheese, "The Italian Job", topped with lemon cream sauce, prosciutto, caramelized onions, Romano and basil, achieves a superb spectrum of flavor. The acidity of the lemon is bright, but subtle, and the salty prosciutto cuts the richness of the cream sauce. The onions, in good measure, give the pie just the right level of sweetness and a few leaves of basil round out the savory components.
Sausage and Cherry Peppers at Bar
You can't talk about New Haven Pizza without Bar coming up. And usually when one talks about Bar pizza they're talking about the mashed potato pie, but not us. The high quality ingredients and even-handed topping distribution on their mozzarella-topped pies is what gets us most excited. The mild, but flavorful crumbled sausage combined with the potent heat of vinegar-tinged cherry peppers has definitely earned a spot in our New Haven rotation.
Clam and Bacon Pie at Frank Pepe's
The Pepe family is one of the great pizza families in America. The original Frank Pepe's, now The Spot, first opened its doors on that famous stretch of pizza row called Wooster Street in 1925. It was Frank Pepe who is attributed with creating the first white clam pie. While there are now worthy competitors making pies that rival the original, Pepe's clam pie serves as the benchmark for many clam pie devotees. The coal ovens imbue the pliant crusts with a smoky char. Add to that fresh garlic, clams, parsley, olive oil, Romano, and smoky slabs of bacon and you have a pie for the history books.
Frank Pepe's Pizzeria Napoletana: New Haven (The Spot): 163 Wooster Street, New Haven CT; 203-865-7602
New Haven: 157 Wooster Street, New Haven CT; 203-865-5762
Manchester: 221 Buckland Hills Drive, Manchester CT; 860-644-7333
Fairfield: 238 Commerce Drive, Fairfield CT; 203-333-7373
Mohegan Sun: 1 Mohegan Sun Boulevard, Uncasville CT; 860-862-8888
Yonkers: 1955 Central Avenue, Yonkers NY; 914-961-8284