New In New Haven

My first New Haven pizza: Modern Apizza | May 20, 2010

Your pizza ain't burnt. That'sa tha'way New Haven does apizza.

Not unlike Philly and it’s trademark cheese steaks; I learned pretty quickly that New Haven has no shortage of places for their trademark “apizza.”

Just about everyone here in New Haven has a different joint to point you to – but the holy trinity of legend for New Haven’s pizza scene are the originals: Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana on Wooster, Sally’s Apizza on Wooster, and Modern Apizza on State Street. It used to be Pepe’s vs. Sally’s… but Modern has snuck it’s way into the conversation through the years.

And apparently, choosing one or the other is like choosing good or evil. Leno or CoCo. Pepsi or Coke. The Stones or The Beatles. Sox or the Yanks. Cats or dogs… Mass. hysteria.

The pizzeria you pledge your allegiance to is so serious, it could end your marriage. Your parents could disown you. Your friends may disavow you. Your boss may fire you. Do not take your pizza preference lightly. That’s what “they” say.

I’m used to this. In Philly, it was Pat’s or Geno’s (for cheese steaks). And then there was Jim’s too. But in truth, you could get an excellent – if not more excellent – Philly cheese steak in dozens of other joints dotted all over the greater Philadelphia area.

So when you say my first born child’s life depends on where I eat my New Haven pizza, I don’t feel all that threatened. The real story here is that New Haven has a wealth of good places that make a lot of good pizza. That’s what I’m interested in. And that’s where New Haven’s real pride lies, I think.

Why did I try Modern first? One of my new neighbors convinced me.

“Ignore all the talk about Pepe’s and Sally’s,” he told me. “Modern does it better. That’s where it’s at.”

And he pointed out that Modern just made Playboy.com’s top 10 list for best pizza in the country. So, that’s a pretty reputable recommendation, I figured.

What did I think? Honestly, my hopes must have been stacked too high. It was a great pizza – but I’ve definitely had better brick oven pizza. Try Piccini’s in Ocean City, NJ.

I could blame part of my underwhelming on my choice though. I ordered the Margherita Pizza – which I tend to think of as the penultimate brick-oven pizza. With fresh mozz, fresh herbs and Parmesan, olive oil and melty tomatoes chunks – it’s how all pizza should be.

Would the real Margherita please stand up?

This is not Modern’s Margherita, although the waiter did kindly alert me to such. It’s simply mozzarella (as opposed to fresh mozzarella) with their excellent tomato sauce and olive oil on thin crust.

A smashing pizza, but it didn’t satisfy the Margherita jones I had, nor the anticipation that you New Haveners built up for me.

Does it belong in the top 10 pizzas in the country? I’m willing to bet my basil some place in New Haven does, but I don’t think Modern is it.

The newsroom here @ the Register has given me a long list of places to check out, and I’m planning to hit them all.

Want to sing praises of your own favorite New Haven pizza spot? Sing away in the comments, and I’ll give it the New in New Haven treatment.

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7 Comments »

  1. Hey Chris,

    Welcome to Connecticut!

    Viktoria Sundqvist
    Middletown Press

    Comment by Viktoria Sundqvist — May 22, 2010 @ 1:37 am

  2. Well, maybe you should have had the white pizza with sliced tomatos and onions, garlic and oil, mozz and basil. Their’s kick-ass!

    Comment by Anonymous — May 26, 2010 @ 5:48 am

  3. glad to be here, Viktoria. hopefully our jobs cross our paths at some point.

    and as for the white pizza recommendation, i know. i’ll get to the niche pizzas, but had to test the traditional ones first. you understand. it’s very scientific.

    Comment by chris — May 26, 2010 @ 5:52 pm

  4. Aw, Chris — you should have never let some mope talk you into going to an inferior joint for your first New Haven pizza…Modern is like kissing your sister — it’s the one you go to when you’re in mixed Pepe/Sally’s company and/or when your REAL favorite is closed for vacation. Get your butt to Sally’s. (Let me know if you want company…)

    Comment by Mark Zaretsky — May 28, 2010 @ 8:07 pm

  5. You’re right, Mark. I fell for it, hook, line, sinker. Let’s stop by Sally’s when we can get together.

    Comment by chris — May 31, 2010 @ 3:31 am

  6. The Pat’s/Geno’s comparison is apt, plus you need to know what to order. White clam at Pepe’s, clams casino at Modern, anything at Sally’s…the best of all was The Spot — the original, not the Pepe’s Annex it is now.

    Ernie’s in Westville is totally underrated — he [Pat–Ernie’s son] makes the best crust around. It’s thicker and chewier than the big three. Get it with fresh tomato and basil in the summertime.

    Pizza House on Howe Street is the original Greek pizza in New Haven. Blasphemy, you say? Foodies Jane and Micheal Stern have sung its praises. Cooked in a pan, thicker than Wooster Street, it’s a different animal entirely but with it’s own sublime pleasures. Order a small and eat it there. Roasted peppers and onions, or pepperoni and mushroom. Like most pies, it’s not as good when it travels. Likewise with slices, which are reheated.

    Comment by Mister Jones — July 11, 2010 @ 12:41 pm

  7. Yesterday i spent 300 $ for platinium roulette system , i hope
    that i will earn my first $$ online

    Comment by Theodore — January 5, 2015 @ 6:43 am


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    Who’s the new guy?

    Chris March, a twenty-something music geek packed up his things and moved to New Haven, Ct from suburban Pa to join the online team at the New Haven Register.

    follow @LouderCMarch

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