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.
That would be Zuppardi's homemade sausage pizza—I'm fairly certain it has no peer in the state of Connecticut. The juicy pork sausage is laced softly with fennel, providing an ideal pairing for molten mozzarella and a bubbly, crisp-yet-chewy crust.
The hunks of sausage are generously-sized crumbles scattered strategically across each pie. They also appear to serve a very important purpose. The fresh mozzarella practically slides across the top of the pizza, and the miniature icebergs of sausage at least appear to anchor the river of cheese, which itself is surrounded by ribbons of a fresh tomato sauce. These three toppings served piping hot are all you need on this pie.
Remember to order your mozzarella at Zuppardi's; like at most New Haven style pizzerias, mozz is considered an optional topping, and a plain pie comes without it. Your waitress will most likely remind you, though.
What makes this and every Zuppardi's pie go from good to great is the crust. A crisp medium char and ever-so-slight flakiness on the outside and a few nicely-sized bubbles on the crust's edge belie a chewy interior. A peek below and you'll find a heavily floured undercarriage. Taken alone, the crust has the texture and chew of a baguette a l'ancienne, the more yeasty and rustic version of a baguette.
Biting into the first slice, I found myself sheepishly counting the many hours spent in line spent waiting for Pepe's, Sally's, and Modern. All just a stone's throw from where I sat and ate my sausage pie in bliss. This place is definitely worth the price of admission and perhaps even a road trip or two.
Once your sausage-greased hands pay the bill and you waddle toward the door, you may notice a small freezer of frozen pies ready to be taken home. A nice touch, made especially difficult to resist once you are in the post-sausage afterglow.