Attention pizza fans: Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana (Pepe's, for those in the know) is preparing to open their 8th restaurant, this time in West Hartford, CT. Pepe's, an institution in the pizza world, is third-generation owned and operated—the first location opened nearly 90 years ago in 1925, in New Haven, CT.
'Connecticut' on Serious Eats
I cut my teeth (and occasionally the roof of my mouth) on the thin, blistered pies of Southern Connecticut. Exploration eventually lead this enthusiast away from the Holy Trinity (Sally's, Pepe's, Modern), and in to the arms of smaller, off-the-beaten-path gems like Papa's. The times I've sat down to enjoy a pizza from Papa's, I've been rewarded with the flavors and textures of New Haven without the headache or attitude. If you're traveling up I-95 through Milford, take the detour.
As with any road trip, the all-important matter of lunch came up first. Even before we started discussing it, I was pretty sure where Ed was going to lead us. See, both he and Connecticut Slice correspondent Amy Kundrat have waxed poetic about what is supposedly the "best clam pizza on the planet" (according to Ed). As a kid who pretty much grew up eating clam pizzas in New Haven and beyond, this, I had to taste.
Al Forno'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.
Yesterday marked the opening of the newest edition to the Batali-Bastianich empire. Tarry Lodge opened their first outpost in Port Chester, CT in 2008. We'll have a First Look for you next week when Slice correspondent Amy Kundrat checks out the new Westport location.
The wood-fired brick oven pizzas at Figs are anything but pizza. These bistro pies are built with thin, crispy crusts that largely forgo the mozzarella and tomato duo in favor of piles of intricate toppings; components that echo the American bistro dishes that make up the rest of this menu at this popular Sandy Hook, CT restaurant. If it weren't for the prominent custom-made brick oven and a steady flow of take-out pizza boxes, you might otherwise skip the pizza menu altogether, which would be a travesty.
From Sally's Apizza [Photograph: Adam Kuban] The New Haven Pizza Fest got underway last Thursday and Friday. While sadly two days are behind us, the good news is that the second half of the festival is this Thursday and Friday from 12-1:30 pm on the New Haven Green (map). If you can get there, why wouldn't you?! The festival is a fundraiser for The Connection Fund. They have had 483 pizzas donated from 28 area pizzerias, including their sponsors Modern Apizza, Abate, Tolli's, P&M, Born in America, and Marco Pizzeria. Slices are going for 3 bucks each or 2...
Slice is no stranger to Zuppardi's. This New Haven-style joint just over the border in West Haven has "The Best Clam Pizza" Ed Levine has ever had. But on a recent visit, I had another pie in my sights altogether.
Unapologetically cheesy, with a hefty crust and a side of homespun hospitality, the pizza at Nick's in Danbury, Connecticut feels both instantly familiar and timeless. The anchor to this family-run operation is a full menu of Italian American specialties, a couple of gas powered ovens and a tangy signature sauce.
Carminuccio's in Newtown, Connecticut is a bit off the beaten path, but since 1997, this no-frills local favorite has been slinging pies that Gourmet magazine once called one of "America's top 10 pizzas."
At Mulberry Street Pizza, New York–style thin crust meets Hollywood with a "Blockbuster" menu of specialty pies. Each one has a cinematic moniker ("As Good As It Gets," "Wizard of Oz," "Goodfellas," "Backdraft") and unusual toppings.
Rex and Val Bobi, the husband and wife team behind Savor in Norwalk, CT are serious about making pizza healthier and accessible for those with dietary restrictions. For those with allergies or vegan lifestyles, this isn't pizza blasphemy; it's an oasis of comfort food that they can actually enjoy.
Each Thursday at the Westport Winter Farmers Market, the first thing you'll notice is not the plethora of local produce, but the wood-fired oven attached to a green Dodge pick-up truck. The pleasant smell and warmth emanating from Jeff Borofsky's Skinny Pines Pizza Truck makes it challenging to walk into the market without getting hungry for pizza.
Regulars at Harry's Bishops Corner know there are two menus: the traditional, year-round one, and the list of rotating specialty pizzas meant to reflect the changing seasons. In summer, that usually means something with fresh local tomatoes. Cold-weather pies are robust, with hearty toppings and bold flavor combinations to cut through the miserable chill.
A slice of New Haven's Wooster Street arrived in Danbury, Connecticut last week in the form of a new outpost of Frank Pepe's Pizzeria Napoletana. Just to make absolutely sure this was not a wintertime mirage, I headed over to the new Danbury branch during a recent snow day.
According to the staff, the original pizza cook at Bar once worked at Sally's on Wooster Street, and at first glance, the pedigree is apparent: the pizzas are served over a sheet of parchment paper set into aluminum sheet trays, shaped into elongated circles to better fit the rectangular pan. There are differences, too, though—the pizzas are substantially thinner than other New Haven pies, and they are sliced into rectangles rather than the usual wedges.
The telltale signs of wood fire are prominent on a Stanziato's pie, and the result is a delightfully chewy crust. A light, crackly char on the crust exterior belies a soft, pillowy interior. It's light yet sturdy, standing firm to most toppings you can throw at it.
Gerard Robertson says that he opened Coalhouse in Stamford, Connecticut because he "was sick of driving to New Haven and Brooklyn for good pizza." So will his pies save Stamfordites a trip out of town?
If the menu at Tappo was suddenly culled to that one page, a beacon of 14 pizza offerings, we'd be none the wiser. This isn't because the rest of the menu doesn't deserve it's own nod, because in fact it does. But it's because the pies at Tappo are good enough to make us believe this corner of Connecticut is serious about staking a claim to traditional Neopolitan pizza.