Is New Haven the best pizza city?

Originally published at: Is New Haven the best pizza city? | Boing Boing


I visited New Haven a few times for work last year and their pizza is pretty darn good. They even have some newer places that I was impressed by that mixed the Charcoal oven with newer flavors.

Besides pizza I feel like New Haven is just a good food town. I had good Nashville Style Hot Chicken, Lobster Rolls, Ice Cream, and Louie’s Lunch is an experience in itself with their Hamburgers from 1895.


I have a theory that good pizza comes from cities whose name begins with ‘N’: Napoli, New York, New Haven …

Beginning with ‘N’ is possibly a necessary, but certainly not a sufficient condition: I don’t know what pizza is like in, say, Nashville or Nuremberg. More research is needed. And more pizza. Lots and lots more pizza.


Western New Yorkers: ‘Definitely not the copycats in NYC.’


Uh oh… Boing Boing woke up and chose violence.


I grew up in Hartford, and whenever we were down near New Haven we’d hit Pepe’s on the way home. At the time I didn’t realize how great his pizza was (kid’s palates are not so refined, as sugary cereals might indicate), but then I moved away and heard people talking highly of Pepe’s in other cities. Yes, it’s that good.


“Which topping would you like, Mr Bolling?”
“I chose… VIOLENCE!!!




Is that the one with clams in it? I like clams and I like pizza – separately.


On your next trip to New Haven, you should try BAR pizza on Crown Street. Their mashed potato bacon pie is a New Haven staple, IMO.


I can tell you that Nuremberg pizza, like all pizza made by Germans in Germany, is… different.

That of course doesn’t include pizza made by Italian immigrants or even Turks, who seem to have grasped the basic concept of pizza (at least in Berlin).


I find Bar to be really good, but kind of inconsistent. Have you tried the (sliced) potato and rosemary at Sally’s?

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Actually, it is pronounced “ah-beetz”

Pics of Sally’s (my personal fave) for reference.

(yeah, didn’t get a pic of the Red Pie with Mootz before someone took a bite)

For those interested in learning more, my neighbor (writer, filmmaker) made a wonderful film on New Haven Apizza ( well worth a watch (and The Fonz is in it).


I went to Pizza Hut in Nuremburg many years ago and it was what you would expect from German Pizza Hut but maybe there’s an underground artisan pizza scene there that I missed? (Pizza mit Nürnberger Bratwurst?)


We’ve never tried Modern Apizza, (“modern” when it was named in 1944), which is also in the New Haven apizza pantheon, an egregious oversight we hope to rectify soon.

I can’t believe someone beat me to a post about New Haven pizza! I grew up in Hamden, the next town over from New Haven. All these joints were regular in my life — but Modern is absolutely the best one of them all. The best food, and the best run business/overall dining experience.

Supposedly, Sally’s and Pepe’s were originally opened by cousins. By the 90s/00s, it was clear that the Pepe’s side of the family got all the business acumen. They opened up “The Spot” next door to deal with overflow, then eventually expanded to their other locations, too. They knew they were an institution, and they kept the line there moving like a tourist trap.

Sally’s, on the other hand, never seemed concerned about the business side of things. You can see by the old photos on the wall that they’ve barely put $10 into updating the place since it opened, and the customer service is terrible (unless you know a guy who knows a guy who has the secret unlisted phone number). They just want to make some awesome pizza, and they don’t care about turning over their tables, for better or for worse.

Back in December 2009, I had just started dating my now-wife, and she was dropping me off at my parents’ house for the holidays. I told her I’d take her out for some New Haven Pizza first. We got to Wooster Street, and I was shocked to see that — for once — there was no line outside of Sally’s. So we went there, instead of Pepe’s. We stepped inside at about 5:20pm (they open at 5pm) to find that every table was already occupied. We waited until 6pm or so. One more person arrived, hoping to get a table, and the staff couldn’t handle the stress of 3 extra people standing inside, so they yelled at us to go wait outside. Shouldn’t be more than 20 minutes, they said.

We ended up getting seated a little before 7pm. Took another 20 minutes for the waiter to come get our order. By the time we ate and left, it was 9pm.

4 hours. For a pizza date in a dingy Italian closet. Was it worth it? I don’t know, but I suppose it’s a testament to the quality of the pizza that she married me anyway.

ETA: Modern will also sell you nearly-fully cooked freeze-dried and shrink-wrapped pizzas that you can ship to your loved ones who miss it. It is one of the nicest gifts a person can ever receive.


Yay! A pizza thread. Finally, a conversation I can contribute to.

OK, so I am very much familiar with Pepe’s and the clam pizza there. While clam pizza is almost always good, I sincerely beg you to do yourself a huge favor and visit Lucia’s on Avenue X in Brooklyn for clam pizza. It is absolutely the best I have ever tasted. They don’t let the garlic overwhelm and ingeniously put lemon wedges on each slice so that you can drench it all in lemon juice before sinking your teeth in. Trust me, this is one of life’s gifts. Don’t overlook it.

BTW, they only serve it on Friday’s.


Sally is the King of this street in New Haven, but you can’t go wrong at either place.


Bassist in my band is an Italian-American Jew from Hamden, who now lives down the street from me in Boston. The RAGE that still fills his face when people ask for matzo-rella instead of saying MOOTZ…


I am conflicted. On the one hand, I’m from Connecticut, and there’s only like one thing to be proud of in that state, and that’s New Haven pizza. On the other hand, that would mean that this article’s headline contradicts Betteridge’s Law. On the other other hand, I don’t care, Pepe’s is the best pizza I’ve ever had.


A lot has changed since 2009 :slight_smile:

A bit of a clarification. The Spot is the original location and original coal oven. IMHO, the pies there are better.

It is a bit better now. They are open for lunch (gasp!) and so the crowds are a bit more spread out. They still get lines weekend nights. They put up a tent in the parking lot in the late-spring through early-fall and that also help. They have, like Pepe’s, opened up additional locations. Unlike Pepe’s additional locations, the Sally’s ones are pretty true to the taste, if not the “hole in the wall” feel.

Sally’s ships on Goldbelly now.