The Definitive Guide to New Haven Pizza

There is pizza, and then there is apizza. New Haven-style pizza is the latter ; a hot, crispier, and dirtier descendant of Neapolitan dash pie. What rib are to Kansas City, cheesesteak to Philadelphia, and crabcakes to Baltimore, pizza is to New Haven. If you grew up in or around the Elm City, your pizza parlor allegiance can be boisterous. So how did Connecticut ’ sulfur irregular largest city become ground zero for some of the best pizza in the United States ? Just what is New Haven-style pizza ?
first, a bit of history. At the turn of the twentieth hundred, New Haven became a popular township for italian families who settled in the United States during the area ’ s diaspora. Neighborhoods such as Wooster Square became dwelling to many displace southern italian families primed with palates that appreciated the thin-crusted Neapolitan style pizza of their fatherland .
What makes New Haven-style pizza inimitable goes much deeper than the char, thin-crusted oblong pies of Wooster Street. New Haven has its own pizza slang and touch moves. here ’ s a vocabulary to help you decipher them :

A New Haven Pizza Lexicon

It’s apizza, not pizza

The word “ apizza ” is itself a distinguishing feature of New Haven. The “ a ” is a announce of the italian dialect spoken in the Naples region. Sally ’ mho and Modern however use it proudly and a handful of places in the region use it as a deferent nod to their stylistic New Haven roots.


In the twenties and thirties ember was abundant and brassy. It is besides still responsible for the blistered, coal-black, and smoke-imbued spirit of the pies at Pepe ’ second and Sally ’ second. Modern besides initially relied on char, in the imprint of coke fuel, but has long-since turned to an oil-fueled open flame brick oven .

It’s not burned, it’s charred

What all apizza has in common, careless of the fuel source, is intensely hot brick ovens, and pies left intentionally longer on their decks, producing a key signature deeply charred crust. Some may call it burned, but that ’ s amiss : In New Haven, it ’ south charred .

A long, cold fermentation

New Haven-style pizza dough relies on a longer agitation than that of its flying rise New York vogue pizza neighbor. Allowing the boodle to proof more lento over the course of an overnight refrigeration, in combination with letting the boodle occur to room temperature before shaping and baking, allows for a much more nuanced relish and chewy crust .


Most of the old timers in New Haven call their solid milk aged mozzarella by a single syllable : “ mootz. ” You can get away with this on or around Wooster Street if you 1 ) grew up using the news 2 ) are italian American and want to give it a fit, or 3 ) work in a pizzeria and/or have some flour on your shirt .

“Mootz” is a topping

mozzarella is considered a topping so always be certain to specify “ mootz ” or “ no mootz. ” If you don ’ metric ton ask for it, it won ’ thyroxine come on your pizza .

Tomato pies

The first pies made in New Haven were topped with tomato sauce. That ’ s it. No rivers of tall mallow, nary a lead in sight, equitable newly and lemony hand crushed tomatoes cooked merely by the heat of the oven. Die-hards however prefer inner light or no cheese to appreciate the simplicity of New Haven ’ s lemony tomato sauce and charred crust, and today about all New Haven pizza parlors have their own take .

White clam pizza

Any New Haven pizza parlor worthy of its zip up code makes a properly white clam pie. They should, after all : Pepe ’ mho invented it, and New Haven is a stone ’ south throw to Long Island Sound. A combination of clams, with grated aged cheese, and garlic atop a reduce crust is at the top of its game when paired with their smoky bacon .

Foxon Park soda

Although technically not truly separate of the pizza, these pops are very a lot character of the New Haven experience. Foxon Park sodas are omnipresent at the big three, a product that ’ randomness has been manufactured in East Haven since the 1922. Made using real sugar, they ’ ra known for their White Birch flavor .
Three families bequeathed New Haven with a hat magic trick of italian American pizza parlors and a bequest that inspires caricature. Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana, known simply as Pepe ’ sulfur, was the first to open on Wooster Street in 1925, Modern Apizza opened on State Street in 1934, followed by Sally’s Apizza on Wooster Street in 1938. As pizzeria come and go, none have risen to the level of these big three, although a few luminary spots come close, such as the newfangled child Bar. here now, your definitive usher to New Haven pizza :

sallys 4

Sally’s Apizza

Founded: 1938
Oven: Coal-powered brick oven
Signature Pizza: Tomato proto-indo european, Garden pie
Location: 237 Wooster Street, New Haven CT 06511,
Notes: Cash alone
Frank Sinatra was a Sally ‘s guy. And truly, that ‘s all you need to know .
identical little has changed at Sally ‘s since Salvatore Consiglio beginning started serving pies out of its coal-fired oven in 1938 on Wooster Street. The Consiglio class is however the custodian of the Sally ‘s flame, and Salvatore Consiglio ‘s two sons, Richard and Bobby, continue to make the pies and wield the peels daily .
This rare fidelity translates to a consistency that sets Sally ‘s apart from any of its New Haven peers. The pizza you ate on your first visit will likely be identical to the pizza you eat on your future chew the fat, which is probable like to the pizza that Ol ‘ Blue Eyes feed back in the day .
Lined with wood empanel, Sally ‘s boom room reflects decades of accumulate memorabilia, leading to the controlled chaos that is the rear clear kitchen. The white and red brick oven façade is smudged with soot, containers and receipts are piled precariously on surfaces, and service is, good, about nonexistent. According to Bobby Consiglio, Sally ‘s burns through about a short ton of coal each week .
One thing that is for certain, the Sally ‘s tomato pie reigns supreme on Wooster Street. It ‘s the benchmark for which any tomato proto-indo european is measured, thanks in separate to a house-made tomato sauce with a proprietorship blend of tomatoes. An evenly crisp and charred edge, a lemony layer of tomato sauce that approaches the pizza ‘s flat border, and a babble of clean herb with nary a bit of cheese in sight, testify childlike is better and decades of ritual topic. In the summer, Sally ‘s offers a fresh tomato version with bracing basil and a light dabble of cheeses. Anther pie that is closely ampere good and unique to Sally ‘s is the Garden Special, a combination of tomato, mozzarella, zucchini, and basil .
Sally ‘s well-worn patina and a crusty eccentricity polarize customers, offending some while charming others. Unlike Pepe ‘s, which has dusted itself off and expanded, Sally ‘s has remained rebelliously focused and unchanged by the Consiglio kin for the past 76 years. This may be the solution of the competition between these two alike, however vastly different New Haven apizza parlors .

pepe 2

peeps pizzeria new haven


Pepe’s Pizzeria Napoletana

Founded: 1925
Oven: Coal-fired brick oven
Signature Pizza: White dollar pizza
Location: 157 Wooster Street, New Haven, CT,
synonymous with New Haven pizza, Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana is the grandfather of New Haven ‘s pizza scene. From its humble beginnings on Wooster Street in 1925, Pepe ‘s has recently expanded to five extra locations in Connecticut and New York. Although much time and expense has gone into duplicating the taste and feel of the Pepe ‘s experience, none come conclude to the experience of the original Pepe ‘s placement in New Haven .
The original Pepe ‘s is now called The Spot, located to the left and back of where Pepe ‘s stands today on Wooster Street. It is home to a smaller, about identical operation with shorter lines, but Pepe ‘s proper is still the main tie. Two dining rooms are continually filled to the brim, much with retentive lines trailing down the freeze. Inside, a massive and trench brick oven with a white-tiled facade stands at attention in the rear, attended by white-aproned men wielding impossibly retentive peels and pounding out their over-sized oblong pies.

Pepe ‘s identical foremost pizza were tomato pies, and a nod to these modest roots can be found in the constantly-lit “ Original Tomato Pie ” neon sign hanging above the kitchen ‘s buffet. Its most beloved pizza is the celebrated original ashen dollar pie. Hundreds of imitators have attempted to match the elate combination of romano cheese, fresh garlic, olive oil, parsley, and clams atop the chewy and charred oblong pies .
Clam pizza pro tip ? Add bacon. Pepe ‘s is known for its intensely smoked bacon, which remains elastic and similar in texture to the dollar, making it an excellent partner in crime .

modern apizza

modern apizza 2

modern apizza 3

Modern Apizza

Founded: 1934
Oven: Open fire brick oven ( in the first place coke-fueled ).
Signature Pizza: The italian Bomb
Location: 4 State Street, New Haven, CT,
Located on State Street in the East Rock vicinity, Modern Apizza sits just off the well-beaten path of Wooster Street, earning its status within New Haven ‘s pizza scene with an 80-year history and an adhesiveness to apizza tradition. Modern ‘s owner Bill Pustari — who purchased Modern from its original owner over thirty years ago — has worked arduous to build its reputation because of its location. As a resultant role, it ‘s known as the most welcome and family-friendly of the bad three. Its key signature proto-indo european is known as the italian Bomb .
Modern ‘s open flame brick oven cranks out charred, chewy, and solid pizza. The more toppings the alert. The crust is one of the more matter to for New Haven apizza, thanks to the alone texture of its undercarriage. While some parlors use cornmeal to help pizza slide off the skin, Modern uses a special breadcrumb recipe. Watch the oven action closely and you ‘ll see the each pizza touch down on a rough mat before it makes its way into a pizza box, clearing off the remnants .
The dilute and chewy Modern crust is the consequence of dough made from a starter, with equitable flour, water, yeast, olive anoint, and salt, which is then treated to a 24-hour coldness agitation. Modern does not shy aside from its use of cheese, which is a whole milk aged mozzarella, and every Modern proto-indo european is finished with a hit of Pecorino Romano. The sauce is made of wholly hand-crushed Italian peeled tomatoes, often purchased by the lot to ensure consistency and cooks lone during its meter within the oven .
Setting it apart from its more sparsely clear neighbors and authoritative pies, Modern ‘s best-known pie has become known as the italian Bomb, a giant with seven toppings : blimp, bacon, pepperoni, onion, mushrooms and garlic, made possible by a sturdy crust and sparse “ mootz. ”
The underdog of New Haven ‘s pizza view, Modern owns the championship of “ friendliest ” joint and heftiest pizza, a well as one of the few places you can normally avoid a hanker wait .
Update: here ‘s an interview with owner Bill Pustari .


Founded: 1996
Oven: Gas
Signature Pie: Mashed potato ( with bacon )
Location: 254 Crown Street, New Haven CT 06510,
Note: House brewed beer, salads
What Pepe ‘s is to tourists, Sally ‘s is to the pizza purist, and Modern is to the locals, Bar is to the hippie 20-something collegiate community ( Yale is just one of its several university neighbors, after all ). Bar owns its young, brash, new child on the New Haven block condition, with a small and becoming choice of firm brewed beers, a huge industrial-feeling quad, and a matchless mashed potato ( and bacon ) proto-indo european .
You ca n’t beat Bar ‘s localization and its huge space. The facade ‘s tall glass windows allow light from Crown Street to pour into the Bru room, offering a glance of their celebrated neighbor, Louis Lunch ( home of the first ground beef ). At night, the space doubles as a busy brew public house and night club .
But the real draw at Bar is the pizza, which veers from the elder statesmen in several celebrated ways. The pies are even thinner, about impossibly then. Their shapes mirror the rectangular aluminum sheet pans they are served upon. Cut crosswise, they eschew the chock in favor of a orthogonal slice. They offer non-pizza items ( a single, and solid, salad ). The brick oven burns natural accelerator, not coal or oil like their New Haven neighbors .
By army for the liberation of rwanda the best-known and most coveted pizza at Bar is the grind potato proto-indo european ( preferably with bacon and garlic ). That ‘s right : Mashed potato. To understand Bar ‘s mashed potato and bacon pie, you must first suspend any notion of the grind potatoes of your youth, unless they were garlicky, fall as air, and laced with a spot of aged cheese and herb and studded with crisp bits of bacon. Placed on lead of Bar ‘s incredibly thin and light, crisp crust, this pizza redefines what ‘s possible with a proto-indo european .
[ All photos : Amy Kundrat ]

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