I had heard rumors of the New Haven food scene, especially its pizza, for years. There had been failed missions to explore said scene, namely the New Hampshire trip of Feb. ’06 that involved part of Blondie’s car freezing shut. So when Brownie suggested I accompany her to New Haven, land of her birth, to eat (and visit her fam), it was on. The only rule was that we had to eat a plain red pizza and a clam pizza in each destination.
As soon as we exited New Haven’s Union Station, Brownie's Dad brought us to Modern Apizza. The interior is a throw back to a 70s basement, with its wood paneling and tables. I wouldn’t be surprised if they had orange shag carpeting at some point, and that would only make me love it more. Yes, I sort of like places that haven’t updated their interiors in years (Centre Pizza in Little Neck, I’m looking at you!!); it means they’re not about appearances, they’re about quality. Modern’s clams were chopped and from a can, but they were more pleasantly chewy than tough. There was a bit too much oregano, and the crust ends were very burnt, but the red sauce wasn’t too sweet and I loved the clam pizza. If I had to have a canned clam, I don’t want to choke on a huge chunk.
The next night Brownie and I met up with one of her besties, Doc, in the center of New Haven’s Little Italy, Wooster St, for some Pepe’s. As we pulled up, the line was out the door, but not past the parking lot, if that means anything to you. Luckily all the parties ahead of us were big groups so when a booth came available, we were able to jump most of the line, and were seated within 15 minutes. Unlike Modern’s, Pepe’s clams were fresh, but incredibly fishy and salty. I also got a little bit of sand in one bite and it was not pleasant. I think that since they weren’t minced, you tasted it all at once, instead of a little in each bite. Their crust was thickest, but the ends were golden with very little burn spots. Though it was good, it wasn’t going to be a winner, no matter how much Doc jockeyed for that position. The interior was wonderful though with its numbered booths and pictures of old-timers. Too bad I’ll probably never see them again.
For the last pizza of the weekend, we were supposed to stop at the famous Sally’s, but they were CLOSED!!! CLOSED I tell you!!! Brownie and her brother Lil BoBo proposed going to Bar instead. I will meet you yet, Sally. At Bar we tacked on a mashed potato and bacon pizza to our usual two. Yes, you read that right, mashed potato and bacon. Now, potato and tofu have one thing in common, they take on any flavor you give them. They’re sort of the chameleons of the food world. Add on top of that the bacon was super salty. It was ok, nothing I’d order myself, but I wouldn’t say no if offered a slice or was with someone who REALLY wanted it. The clams though were huge and fresh. There is a marked difference between fresh and canned, and you could taste it with this pizza. If only they didn’t have soo much oregano on them (it was like the top came off when someone was shaking it on). Their red sauce was too sweet for my tastes, and you had to shake on your own parmesan (the other two did it for you). They were brewing their own beers, and, apparently, are a hang out with good drink specials, and we all know that’s a plus in my book. Winner, so far: Modern!!!
Modern Apizza Place
874 State St
New Haven, CT
Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana
157 Wooster Street
New Haven, CT
254 Crown St
New Haven, CT