Pizza Belt North: The I-95, Merritt Parkway Pizza Guide
Many New York–area pizza lovers may be headed to the shore this holiday weekend, to Connecticut or Rhode Island or Massachusetts—the northern half of what I called the Pizza Belt in my book Pizza: A Slice of Heaven. If you find yourself hungry, stuck in traffic or both, console yourself with a slice or pizza or two at any of the following places.
In Yonkers, New York, there is a branch of Totonno's in a Holiday Inn, believe it or not. The coal oven there turns out very solid pies. Not quite up to the level of the original Totonno's in Coney Island, but very fine all the same. 125 Tuckahoe Road, Yonkers NY 10710
In Mount Vernon, New York, Slice founder Adam Kuban and I had excellent pizza at Johnny's. What I remember most about the pizza here is the light, pliant, crisp crust. Good hot heroes, too. 30 West Lincoln Avenue, Mt. Vernon NY 10550
Heading north into Connecticut from Westchester County, you will encounter the first branch of the legendary New Haven pizzeria Frank Pepe's in Fairfield. Alas, the lines at this Pepe's are just as long, so going at off-hours or calling way ahead for a take-out pie are your best bets. I do mean way ahead, a good three hours in my experience. 238 Commerce Drive, Fairfield CT 06825
Twenty minutes or so from Fairfield is the great pizza city of New Haven. Sally's (237 Wooster Street, New Haven CT 06511) is not open during the day, and the Frank Pepe's (157 Wooster Street, New Haven CT 06511) here also requires calling way ahead even for a pie to go, but there are a couple of solid pizza alternatives here that are easier to get into: Modern (where the unusual oven is fueled by oil; 874 State Street, New Haven CT 06511), and Bar (254 Crown Street, New Haven CT 06511), which has one of those Wood Stone gas ovens that gets hot enough to produce the thin, crisp, pliant crust true pizza aficionados know and love.
Heading north, right off Exit 66 on I-95, in an ungentrified shopping center, is Al Forno, another inspired-by-New-Haven pizza place in Connecticut. Solid B+ pizza that usually requires no waiting. Here, you only need to call a half-hour ahead. 1654 Boston Post Road, Old Saybrook CT 06475
On the Connecticut-Rhode Island border, in the impossibly picturesque town of Mystic, Greek-style slices with just enough oil in the crust can be had at Mystic Pizza, made famous by the movie of the same name. Mystic actually has better fried clams than pizza (try the Sea Swirl), but this is a Slice post, so I must focus on pizza. 56 West Main Street, Mystic CT 06355 [Thank you, Mr. Levine. —The Mgmt.]
Forty-five minutes north of Mystic is Providence, Rhode Island, home of the justifiably famous Al Forno (577 South Main Street, Providence RI 02903) where George Germon and his wife, Johanne Killeen, introduced America to grilled pizza. It's still the best grilled pizza I've ever had, and the rest of the food at Al Forno is pretty great, too. Killeen's desserts, which are made to order, are mine-bogglingly good. Al Forno only sells whole pies, so if it's a quick slice you're after in Providence, you'll have to head to Caserta's (121 Spruce Street, Providence RI 02903) where the pan-baked slices are rectangular and thin-crusted.