Daily Slice: Alforno in Old Saybrook, Connecticut
Daily Slice gives a quick snapshot each weekday of a different slice or pie that the folks at the Serious Eats empire have enjoyed lately.
Originally inspired by its thin-crust neighbor to the west, New Haven, owners Bob Zemmel and Linda Giuca have set out to create thin crust pizzas reminiscent of the pies they love on Wooster Street. Almost twenty years later these pies stand strong and beloved by the Connecticut shoreline communities (and you thought they only ate lobster rolls) alongside a self-described menu of "Florentine" favorites.
Alforno's white, red and "famous" pizzas are thin, crispy New Haven-style pies, the result of a three-day fermentation. They are evenly crisp and a bit charred, thanks to the gas-powered brick oven, and finished with a heavy hand on ingredients, and a bit of grated cheese.
The white pies, especially the Bianca a la Romana, embodies this approach. Caramelized onions, bacon, and fresh thyme compete for attention with the crust. The flavor of the pork pairs nicely with thyme and the not-so-subtle sweetness of the caramelized onions.
Over in red territory, I tried the Gourmet Veggie Pizza, a combination of artfully arranged asparagus, portobello mushroom, spinach and garlic. The pile of vegetables certainly looks threatening, but the formidable Alforno crust manages to hold up to the weight of the vegetables. In this case the entire pie is made stronger by the addition of the sweet San Marzano-based sauce.
Inspired by New Haven but fully in its own league, Alforno proves the CT shoreline has much more to offer than lobster rolls and summer shore traffic.