Monday, November 29, 2010

Pizza in New Haven (or, Why My Boyfriend Has Almost Nothing Nice To Say About Boston Pizza)

Joel's a pizza snob. A major one. Growing up in Connecticut, his old favorite was a place called Pizza Time in Bridgeport, back in its days of different ownership. Now, the famous Frank Pepe is a suitable substitute. (If you've never had Pepe's pizza, imagine a pie that is asymmetrical and coal-fired - much like Bertucci's pizza in appearance, but much, much better.) He brought me to the Fairfield location of Pepe's earlier this year, and I enjoyed it, but I cling to the opinion that there are many different types of pizza, and I can't possibly rate them all against each other. I grew up loving crispy bacon pizzas - small and pub-style - at Town Spa in Canton. For the last two years, I obsessively devoured cheese and pepperoni slices from Pino's in Cleveland Circle. I'll happily eat 'fancier' thin-crust pizza at places like ZING! and Emma's (previously reviewed here). I'll even go to Uno once in a great, great while for a nice artery-clogging deep dish sausage pizza. (Joel won't even dignify deep dish with the word "pizza". He has no problem with it as a separate entity...but it's not pizza.)

We found ourselves in New Haven the night before Thanksgiving, catching his brother's band, The Stepkids, play a late show, so we decided to try our luck on Pizza Row and see if we could find a reasonable line to wait in on the chilly night. We found Sally's Apizza, and the line seemed short. (Side note - many of the New Haven pizza places have an "a" in front of "pizza". The history page on the Pepe's website explains that this is from the Neapolitan dialect, and it's pronounced "ah-beetz".)

The wait for a table ended up lasting 45 minutes, which we considered pretty reasonable for a place with such a cult-like following. There was one moment towards the end of the wait when we started getting restless; a large group of people waltzed right in, and we stared angrily as they got to sit down while we continued to wait. Rumor has it there's a secret reservation phone number that some people can call.

After we sat, the only waiter quickly came over and took our order: one medium pizza, half pepperoni and half bacon, and a couple beers. The beers came quickly, and then we waited. And waited. And waited. We were sitting in the last booth by the kitchen, so we saw every single pizza come out and pass us by.  We kept wondering if it was going to be worth it. I theorized that they had to keep running out to score drugs to inject into the pizza to make it so addictive that people are willing to go to any length to eat there.

Finally, finally, 90 minutes later, it was our turn, and the man delivered our pizza to the table with a huge smile on his face that could only mean: "Here I am to save the day, and I'm going to put this down ever so slowly and love every nanosecond of it. And you will love me forever."

Thank you, Mr. Pizza Man. It was worth the wait.

Let me elaborate:
  • Crust: Perfectly chewy, perfectly doughy, charred just right, ever so slightly sweet
  • Cheese: Just the right amount, just the right flavor
  • Sauce: Not too sweet, not too bland, good amount
  • Cheese/Sauce Ratio: Just right!
  • Toppings: Bacon. Bacon. Bacon. YES. (Great pepperoni, too.)
Yes, you will have to wait forever, both outside and inside. Since I've only been here this once, I don't know the ebb and flow of the busy times, but I'd recommend only going here if you have a good three hours available. Actually, make that four. The resulting pizza coma will be intense.

The medium was just the right amount for two of us; we were satisfied but not disgustingly full.

But it was so wonderful and delicious and such an ordeal that I literally fell asleep in the bar we went to afterward. Yes, that's right, I fell asleep. In a bar. During a loud rock show. Oh, pizza coma.

I would definitely not go here frequently, even if I lived nearby, due to the wait, but for a once-in-a-great-while expedition, it's totally worth it. Drink slowly, because they'll probably never come back for a second drink order, and don't go when you're starving, because you just might find yourself vaulting over the counter and snatching someone else's pizza right out of the oven. Believe me, it was tempting.

So what's a pizza snob and a pizza-snob-in-training to do back in Boston? I'll let you in on our new secret place, one that we discovered recently. The pizza is good enough to meet our needs around here.

Newtowne Grille. Porter Square.

$11 for a large cheese pizza and a pitcher of PBR? Yes, please.

What's your favorite pizza in New Haven? Boston? Your hometown? Do you give different styles of pizza equal consideration, or is there only one real "pizza" to you?

Sally's Apizza on Urbanspoon

Connecticut Restaurants


  1. New Haven Pizza! I got a kick out that as your post because yesterday I was driving back up to Boston with my boyfriend. We make the drive once a month or so and I said, One of these trips, we REALLY need to stop in New Haven for pizza. I had it once years ago with my family. I think we went to Frank Pepe's. And where is Newtowne Grill?? I LIVE in Porter!

  2. That is a great pizza review. Good pizza can be found in so many great places, but one good pizza doesn't always mean you'll find another good one nearby. I guess that is the great pizza adventure!


  3. @freefoodboston - Newtowne Grille is at 1945 Mass Ave, really close to the Shaw's plaza. It's kind of a dive, but in the good way :)

    @Jason - The words "pizza adventure" are making me hungry!

  4. Sally's definitely looks good! I went to Frank Pepe's in Fairfield on my drive home from Philly and we waited in line for 40 minutes! I thought it was nuts, but the pizza came out quickly and was really good. But, I grew up on Papa Gino's and it will always be my favorite! I live right near Newtowne Grill too, I'll have to check it out!

  5. Oh we have soooo much to talk about. My fiance swore by Town Spa... I went there and just gave him a look like he was totally insane. It reminded me of frozen thick crust pizza (and maybe Pizza Hut personal pan pizzas). I was so unimpressed... but that could be because I grew up 20 minutes away from New Haven. Modern is my favorite. Bar is the best for mashed potato pizza. Boston does not get the concept of mashed potato pizza... they layer it on top of the crust and give you a gross dense pizza.

    My favorite here is Upper Crust and then Emma's for fancy pizza. I miss New Haven pizza all the time.

  6. @Melissa - I grew up on Papa Gino's...and I almost always hated it! Haha.

    @Megan - Yeah, Joel seemed pretty disinterested when I finally (and so excitedly!) took him to Town Spa. I was so sad! I've also heard good things about Bar. Mashed potato pizza? I'm intrigued! Upper Crust has never really excited me much, but I do love Emma's.

  7. oh, new haven pizza is amazing. My best friend lived there for a few years while her hubby was finishing grad school. Pepe's white clam is amazing. I like upper crust in Boston - or the occasional bertucci's sporkie :)


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