January 26th, 2016
New Haven, CT
I was heading up to Boston last year for a work trip, and decided to stop in New Haven on the way for a lunch at Modern with a friend from grad school. Unlike the other two famous New Haven pizzerias (Pepe’s and Sally’s), Modern isn’t located on Wooster Street. It has been in its original location on State Street since its opening in 1934.
We got this plain pie, and another one with eggplant. This is your traditional New Haven-style pizza, with the thin, charred crust. Unlike the two greats (Pepe’s and Sally’s), Modern doesn’t use a coal-fired oven, but uses an oil-fueled one. So the pizzas aren’t really the same.
There are a lot of Modern fans in New Haven, but I was never one of them. In fact, I only took Eric there at the very end of my five years in New Haven. He wasn’t super thrilled either. To us, it was a little too oily, a little too chewy, and the sauce just wasn’t as good as Pepe’s or Sally’s. You’ll find plenty of people who disagree with us though.
All this is not to say that a stop a Modern isn’t worth it if you are going to New Haven. The lines are much shorter than Pepe’s and Sally’s, parking is better on State Street than Wooster Street, and it is never too crowded for lunch, even with a bigger group. After all of the pizzas we ate this year, New Haven pizza is still our favorite style, so we’ve still ranked it pretty high, and no New Haven pizza tour would be complete without a stop here. We just think there are better options.
As a side note: Modern, like Pepe’s, is also known for their clam pies. The difference here being that Modern gets pre-shucked clams, and Pepe’s does the shucking themselves. It’s the little things, really.
If you are interested in the New Haven Pizza Debate, here is a good article that lists a bunch of them.
874 State Street
New Haven, CT 06511