#84 Roseland Apizza

May 18th, 2016

Derby, CT

Do you remember back in this post when I mentioned that Eric and I tried to hit the top 20 best pizza places in New Haven county a few years ago? And that we made it to 18/20 before we moved out of CT and into NJ? Well, Roseland Apizza was one of the two that we didn’t make it to. Not that we didn’t try. One Saturday we drove all the way out to Derby for lunch, only to realize that we hadn’t checked the opening hours. Of course, it didn’t open until 3 pm.

 We were really excited to see that Roseland made the Daily Meal’s list, because it gave us an excuse to go back there. We had the chance last May, when I was driving back from a work event in Boston. Eric took the train out to Milford, where I picked him up and we made it to Roseland for dinner.

The drive had been long, and we got to Derby on the later side, which was actually good because we only had a short wait for a table. We were amazed that it was so packed, even at 8 pm!

We ordered a regular New Haven-style tomato pie. It is hard to say that any tomato pie is as good as Pepe’s or Sally’s, but this one certainly comes close. The pizzas here are round, not oblong, like those at the two Wooster Street greats. The crust is crispy and holds up to the amazing amount of tomato sauce, and the pizza is sprinkled with the perfect amount of grated cheese. It really doesn’t get any better than this.

What made this pizza stop even more memorable was that this was the first place that we were recognized! Roseland pizza followed our Instagram from the very beginning, and they actually knew who we were when they sat us! They also knew we were from New Haven, and it was great to talk to them about how amazing New Haven pizza is. We were glad to be able to give them a raving review.

(By the way, we still rarely get recognized. You’d really think we’d be famous by now.)

We’d agree that this is the most underrated pizza in New Haven. It definitely ranks in our top 5 in CT, and above some of the “classics”, like Modern. We haven’t tried the clam pie to compare, but that just means we’ll have to go back.

To visit:

Roseland Apizza
350 Hawthorne Ave
Derby, CT 06418

#57 Zuppardi’s

February 28th, 2016

West Haven, CT

Back when I lived in New Haven, I found a list of the top 50 pizza places in New Haven county in the local New Haven magazine. I tore it out, and Eric and I made it our goal to hit at least the top 20 places on the list (you could say this was the “original pizza quest”). I only had a year or so left of my Ph.D. at that point, and Eric was only coming up about twice a month to visit, so we only ended up making it to 18 out of the 20 by the time we moved down to NJ.

This is what likely sparked our love (and *mild* obsession) with pizza, and in particular, with New Haven-style pizza. We were so excited about the Daily Meal’s top 101 because they had 7 New Haven places on the list, including one from the top 20 that we hadn’t been able to make it to (Roseland) and one that we had never heard of (Ernie’s).  All of the big New Haven pizzerias were on both lists (Pepe’s, Sally’s, BAR, Modern), and this one, Zuppardi’s.

We had been to Zuppardi’s out in West Haven early on in the “original pizza quest”, but we weren’t really impressed. We were looking forward to seeing how it compared now, after a few more years of eating pizza.

Zuppardi’s opened back in the 1930’s, and it started out as a bakery (Salerno’s Bakery). In the 1940’s, it became the pizzeria that everyone knows now. It is also still run by the same family. Even better, they now have a pizza truck!

We got a classic tomato pie, and one of the meatball marinara pies (smalls). Both pizzas were excellent, and we loved how much sauce they loaded on the tomato pie. The crust on these is thicker than a traditional New Haven-style pizza, as you can probably see from the photo.

Zuppardi’s has a few things going for it, besides the pizzas. First, it isn’t downtown New Haven, which means no lines. Second, it is open EVERY DAY OF THE WEEK! This is almost unheard of in New Haven, at least on Wooster Street.

**Side note: I still remember the one year when my birthday was on a Monday, and I couldn’t get my usually birthday dinner of Pepe’s takeout (or Sally’s…or Modern…). It was so depressing.**

  

So, we give this pizza good marks. It won’t satisfy our craving for a New Haven-style pizza, since it is cut in normal slices and has a thick crust that is lacking that coal-oven char, but we certainly left Zuppardi’s feeling happily full.

To visit:

Zuppardi’s Apizza
179 Union Ave
West Haven, CT 06516

#5 Sally’s Apizza

February 27th, 2016

New Haven, CT

If you know anything about New Haven pizza, you likely know that the major debate is over which pizza is better: Pepe’s or Sally’s? I have been asked this question SO MANY TIMES, and my answer: always Pepe’s.

Now that we’ve put that disclaimer out there, it is worth saying that Sally’s does make pretty good New Haven style pizza. So even though we’ve been loyal Pepe’s pizza eaters for years, we tried to be as objective as possible on this recent trip to Sally’s so that we could give it a fair ranking.

Sally’s Apizza is also found on the famous Wooster Street in New Haven’s “Little Italy”. It was started by none other than Frank Pepe’s nephew back in 1938. It is significantly smaller than Pepe’s, but like Pepe’s, it still uses the original coal oven, and it is in the original location and run by the descendants of the original owners.

We went here with my grandparents, who were excited to try an alternative to Pepe’s. Since we got there early, we only had to wait half an hour before getting our pizzas. We ended up getting one plain tomato pie and one garden special veggie, both larges. The grandparents were super impressed by how much pizza the two of us could eat.

 

Sally’s makes a really good pizza – there is definitely a reason why it is ranked so high on the list here, and gets a good ranking on our personal lists as well. It gets overshadowed because Pepe’s is just better. Both the sauce and the charred crust on the pies at Pepe’s just taste better. It is difficult to explain, unless you taste them both side-by-side (which we highly recommend that anyone do if they are in New Haven!).

A few other notes on Sally’s:

  1. They are closed Mondays AND Tuesdays, and they only open at 3 pm on the weekends. So if you get a pizza craving for lunch, you are out of luck.
  2. The lines at Sally’s can be just as long as Pepe’s, but since the restaurant is smaller, you’ll end up waiting longer. Not sure about the take-out times, but they are probably similar.
  3. The waitstaff is not usually friendly. They are known for this. If you go here, you should DEFINITELY bring your grandparents, because then they will be nice to you. (Side note: the staff at Pepe’s isn’t much better).
  4. They call cheese “mootz”. We completely understand that this is the traditional Italian slang for “mozzarella”, but for some reason, it annoys the heck out of us. Other New Haven pizza places do this too, but none so much as Sally’s. YES we know that you want to be authentic, but can’t you just call it “mozzarella” like a normal person?

 

I hope I haven’t completely dissuaded you from trying Sally’s if you are in New Haven. It is darn good pizza, and if Pepe’s ever is closed for repairs, we’d be over at Sally’s in a heartbeat.

And really, the side-to-side taste test is a genius idea, or even a blind taste test, so who wants to do that with us? We’ll even add in BAR and Modern to the lineup, to make it really complete.

To visit:

Sally’s Apizza
237 Wooster Street
New Haven, CT 06511

 

#13 Modern Apizza

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.

To visit:

Modern Apizza
874 State Street
New Haven, CT 06511

#67 Domenick & Pia

January 9th, 2016

Waterbury, CT

You’ve probably heard us talk a lot about New Haven pizza, but not so much about other pizzas in Connecticut. Other Connecticut pizzerias on the list by the Daily Meal include Colony Grill in Stamford, and a pizzeria in Waterbury, CT. Waterbury, for those who don’t know (we didn’t) is located north of New Haven, right off I-84. Domenick & Pia Pizzeria makes pizzas to sell by the slice, New York style, although they also make whole pies. You won’t find a menu, since they don’t have a website.

We got to the pizzeria around lunchtime on a weekend afternoon, and we were very hungry. This was in part because Eric took us off the wrong exit and we ended up driving around Connecticut for a good extra half hour. So, instead of just ordering slices, we decided to get an entire pie, topped with broccoli and onion. Gotta get those veggies in when we are eating so (much pizza!)

The pizza had a thick crust, did not skimp on the cheese and grease, and had a sweet sauce. It was one of the heavier pizzas that we’ve had. Domenick and Pia DeRosa have kept the same pizza recipe for over 50 years!

The couple still works in the restaurant making pizzas, even though they are into their 90’s now. #relationshipgoals

So while we didn’t love the pizza here and probably wouldn’t head up to Waterbury again for it (especially with New Haven only an hour or so south), we love the story of the DeRosas, who got married in Italy and then moved to the US and have been making pizza ever since. We did like the “mom and pop” feel of the pizzeria, and it definitely has the reputation of a neighborhood staple.

I’ll end this post with some classic “Eric eating pizza” pictures. We were so hungry that we couldn’t even wait for the slices to cool down before trying them!

To visit:

Domenick & Pia
3 Brook Street
Waterbury, CT 06702

#51 Colony Grill

December 6, 2015

Stamford, CT

Eric and I drove through Stamford for five years, but we never thought to stop there for pizza. This was mainly because New Haven would only be another half hour or so up I-95, and that pizza was always worth waiting for. We were a little surprised to find that Stamford does have one pizza place on the list, though – Colony Grill.

In our last post on Margot’s, we mentioned that the bar pizza there reminded us of the pizza here at Colony Grill. Colony Grill is entirely unique from New Haven pizzas, probably because it started out as an Irish tavern in 1925. Now, it only serves pizza, and is known primarily for its hot oil bar pie and super thin, crispy crust.

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So of course we had to get the hot oil pie, with sausage. That’s a hot pepper on top, which Eric did NOT eat. I should also mention that we stopped in Stamford on our way back from New Haven (and BAR, which I posted on a few days ago). Luckily, they also had a salad pie on the menu. Eric wasn’t a huge fan of the salad pie, but he seems to be a bit wary of any pizza without cheese (unless its a tomato pie from Pepe’s). I thought that the salad pizza was dressed perfectly, and I felt a bit more healthy eating some veggies on my second pizza of the day.

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This was the first day (of many to come) where we hit two pizza places in one day. We were definitely full after these two stops. I think our stomachs expanded as we continued eating all this pizza, though, because we didn’t seem to have any issues doing two-a-days in the later months of our journey.

While we didn’t LOVE the pizza here, it is good to know that there is decent pizza in Stamford for all of those times we are stuck in traffic getting through Connecticut on the horrible I-95. And don’t even get us started on Connecticut drivers…

 

To visit:

Colony Grill
172 Myrtle Ave
Stamford, CT 06902