The Mystique and Magic of New Haven-Style Pizza – PMQ Pizza Magazine

Founded 360 years ago by the Puritans, New Haven, Connecticut, bills itself as the birthplace of the hamburger, but it ’ s besides home to some of the best pizza on the satellite. According to local anesthetic caption, New Haven-style pizza originated in the early 1920s, when Neapolitan immigrant Frank Pepe began baking pizza, then called tomato pies, and selling them to local anesthetic factory workers on a handcart. In 1925, Pepe purchased a build up with a brick oven and began selling his pies from that location. Over time, two more touch New Haven-style pizzeria opened their doors : Modern Apizza ( in the first place called Tony ’ s Apizza ) in 1934 and Sally ’ s Apizza in 1938. Known locally as apizza and pronounced “ ah-beetz, ” New Haven style serves up a thin-crust pizza, typically cooked at eminent temperatures in a coal-fired or oil-fired brick oven and served in an irregular or oblong form. A close relative to the authoritative New York expressive style, with roots in the Neapolitan tradition, New Haven-style pizza features elusive differences from the two that make it singular. Gary Bimonte, Frank Pepe’s grandson, carries on the family tradition at Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana.

“ We ’ ra adhere to my grandfather ’ s exact recipes, and that ’ s what keeps us on top. It ’ s all about tradition. ”
— Gary Bimonte, Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana

Lightly Charred and Crispy

The dough used in New Haven-style pizza is given more clock to rise than traditional pizza dough, and the flour is a little lower in protein content—around 13 %. “ New Haven-style pizza is known to be a little spot crispier than most, ” says Erica Pustari, director of Modern Apizza. “ It ’ s the water in the dough. We refrigerate and cover the dough and let it rise a little longer, because we use the mother yeast. It ’ s constantly fermenting and animated. ”

The bake process besides varies from the Neapolitan and New York styles. The oven temperature is close to 1,000⁰, and the pie bakes longer than other styles. The result is a crisp proto-indo european with a bit of char on the crust. “ When it comes to baking New Haven-style pizza, coal-fired ovens rank high on the list if you ’ re a hidebound, ” says industry adviser Tom “ The Dough Doctor ” Lehmann, based in Manhattan, Kansas. “ While other types of ovens can be used successfully, coal-fired is the traditional way to go. ” coal offers a big advantage over wood, according to Gary Bimonte, grandson of Frank Pepe and an owner of Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana. “ Coal burns at 1,000˚, and wood burns at 600˚ to 700˚, ” Bimonte says. “ Wood gives off a damp estrus, whereas coal burns at a high, acute, dry heat, and that tends to seal all the flavors in and gives the pizza its signature charwoman. That ’ s what Frank Pepe ’ second is known for. ” Modern Apizza primitively fired its oven with coke, a by-product of char, but switched to an oil-fired oven due to a dearth of coke around 1967. “ New Haven pizza is decidedly a little bite charcoal, ” says Pustari. “ You put that black color on the edges. It ’ s not in truth doughy, but crispy—not excessively crisp, but it has that raw brick taste to it. Working with an oil oven is going to taste differently than a wood-fired. With forest fire, you get that woody taste to it, that smoky taste, but when you work with an oil-based oven, it ’ s a completely unlike animal because of the way that it cooks the pizza. It ’ s more saturated on the pizza and not about that woody taste. It ’ second all about the boodle. The smokiness from the wood would take away from the sample of the dough. ”

Read more: Who Invented Pizza?

“ When it comes to baking New Haven-style pizza, coal-fired ovens rank high on the list if you ’ re a hidebound. ”
— Tom “The Dough Doctor” Lehmann

Gail Churinetz of Gail’s Pizza Parties recently showed PMQ’s Brian Hernandez the ins and outs of making a traditional New Haven White Clam Pie.

Family and Tradition

The White Clam Pizza is an iconic New Haven pizza. It originated in the 1940s, when Pepe put clams, a democratic appetizer at the time, on a pizza, and added olive oil, garlic and marjoram. The baking process melded those ingredients with the dollar juice, basically creating its own blank sauce. “ Our White Clam Pizza has been recognized three years in a row, voted best in the country, ” Bimonte says .
Two final, if intangible, elements of the New Haven pizza style are tradition and syndicate. Modern Apizza is still family-owned, while Frank Pepe ’ sulfur is owned by a family-run corporate board. “ I have three sisters and three cousins, so there ’ s seven of us, ” Bimonte says. “ The family is hush very much in control. It ’ second still a family-owned business, even though we do have a corporate entity—Frank Pepe ’ s Development Company—and all of our locations are company-owned. We do have outside investors, but the development party controls everything. ”

Those close class ties are what make New Haven pizza therefore special, Pustari believes. “ Modern is family-owned, and my ma is from Italy, so the kin and the roots of where the food comes from are a little more authentic. ” And these New Haven apizza clans aren ’ metric ton planning to mess with success. “ The family ’ s not changing a thing, ” Bimonte says. “ We ’ ra adhere to my grandfather ’ second accurate recipes, and that ’ s what keeps us on top. It ’ randomness all about tradition. ” Bill DeJournett is a PMQ contributor.