New Haven-style pizza
Visitors to the New Haven, CN area may have noticed a type of pizza that is locally referred to as “apizza.” This is New Haven-style pizza. Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana is where it originated. Comparatively limited to the New Haven area, apizza is served by many area restaurants, including Sally’s Apizza, Grand Apizza, Modern Apizza, Sal’s Apizza, and Bar Bru Room. In recent years, apizza has grown in culinary importance and in popularity.
What distinguishes pizza made in the New Haven style from the tomato sauce, crust and mozzarella pies that are available at other American pizzerias? Crust, tomato sauce and oregano, with a sprinkling of grated romano cheese makes up a “plain” New Haven-style pizza. Mozzarella, which in the Italian dialect of New Haven is known as “mootz,” is deemed a topping that a customer must specifically request. Back in the 1920s, as Frank Pepe was first creating “tomato pies,” the only choices a customer had were “marinara,” which consisted of grated cheese, anchovies, and tomato sauce, and “plain.”
Allergies to tomatoes and mozzarella led Pepe to develop his “white clam pie.” The bar at his restaurant served littleneck clams on the half shell; Pepe ultimately chose to put them on pizza. A signature pizza in New Haven, the white clam pie is made up of crust, grated cheese, olive oil, oregano, littleneck clams and fresh garlic. Pizzerias may actually try to talk customers out of requesting a white clam pie with mozzarella.
Another distinguishing feature of New Haven-style pizza is the thin crust, which is chewy and crispy because it is baked in brick ovens.
How it is Baked and Served
Rather than being sold in slices, apizza is sold as a whole pie. A coal white over is generally where it is baked. Foxon Park brand soft drinks from East Haven commonly accompany a serving of apizza in the New Haven area.
Pronounced “ah-beetz,” the term apizza comes from the Neapolitan dialect and is common in the Italian-American areas of south Connecticut. New York-style pizza is the most popular type of pizza throughout the remaining northeastern U.S.
Where it is Available
Pizza made in the New Haven style is growing in popularity and is starting to appear in areas that do not have sizeable Italian-American populations. A pizza lover in towns in central and northern sections of Connecticut and even as far away at Oregon, Washington, DC, Chicago and Michigan should be able to find apizza nearby. It is still commonly available in New Haven and in Italian-American areas of Bridgeport and other shoreline communities.