The Complete Guide to New Haven Pizza

Last Updated on October 4, 2022 by admin

When you think of cities that have a reputation for pizza, you probably think of New York or Chicago. It might surprise you to learn that the small city of New Haven in Connecticut is one of the most famous pizza cities in the United States. New Haven has several pizzerias that consistently rank as making some of the best pizzas in the country. New Haven pizza is called apizza (pronounced ah-beetz), and is known for having a chewy crust, a simple tomato sauce, and less cheese. As someone who loves cheese, I was skeptical that New Haven pizza could hold its own. But after I spent 3 years living in New Haven and tried every famous pizzeria in the city, I can confidently say that New Haven pizza is absolutely delicious. (And dare I say my favorite?) If you love pizza, you have to make a visit to New Haven. In this post, I’ll share with you my complete guide to New Haven pizza

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About New Haven Pizza

New Haven-style pizza is characterized by an oblong shape, chewy crust, simple tomato sauce, and scant cheese. The thin-crust pizza is cooked in a coal-fired oven. Pizza from New Haven is called apizza to signify this style of preparation.

See our full article on things to do in Connecticut here!

New Haven’s Pizza History

In the early 1900s, New Haven had a sizable immigrant population from southern Italy. Although pizza wasn’t invented in the United States, immigrants from Italy brought their pizza knowledge to the states and opened some of the first pizzerias in the country. In the early 1920s in New Haven, pizzas were sold from Italian-owned bakeries alongside numerous breads and other baked goods. As pizzas gained popularity, restaurants were eventually opened that catered solely to making pizza. One of the first pizza restaurants was Frank Pepe’s Pizzeria Napoletana, which opened in 1925. (More on that below!)

Since then, New Haven pizza has received all sorts of honors and awards. It’s been featured by the Food Network, the Travel Channel, and Conde Nast Traveler (among others). In 2020, 6 Connecticut pizza restaurants made The Daily Meals’s “101 Best Pizzas in America” list. (A New Haven pizzeria took the #1 spot!) In 2021, a legislative bill was even created to make pizza the official state food. (Although it’s yet to be approved.) 

Basically, if you love pizza, you have to add New Haven to your list of places to visit. 

See our full guide of things to do in New Haven here!

 

New Haven Pizza at Pepe's

 


The Best Pizza in New Haven (Famous Pizzerias)

One of the best things you can do while in New Haven is ask a local which pizza restaurant is their favorite. People from New Haven hold strong opinions about their pizza, and the rivalry between pizzerias is legendary. We’re highlighting the most popular pizzerias in this section.

Frank Pepe’s Pizzeria Napoletana

157 Wooster St, New Haven, CT 06511

New Haven Pizza at Pepe's
Pizza at Pepe’s!

 

Frank Pepe’s Pizzeria Napoletana, or what locals simply call Pepe’s, holds numerous awards for its pizza. It has been voted as the #1 Best Pizza in the United States by the Daily Meal, which put together a list of 101 of the best pizzerias in the United States.

The restaurant was opened in 1925 by Francesco “Frank” Pepe. He arrived from Italy in 1920 and first worked as a baker in New Haven’s Wooster Street. (Wooster Street is where New Haven’s Little Italy is located.) In 1925 he rented a bakery and began his own business. In 1930, due to high demand, they opened a restaurant dedicated to table service for their pizzas: Frank Pepe’s Pizzeria Napoletana.

In the 1960s, Pepe’s began selling white clam pizza. I promise you it’s a delicious pie! The pizza is topped with cooked clams fresh from the sea, grated cheese, garlic, olive oil, and oregano. If you visit Pepe’s, we recommend that you order the White Clam Pizza and the Frank Pepe’s Original Tomato Pie. Full menu linked here

The pizzeria is still a family-owned business. There’s often a line out the door, so get there early and enjoy!

Sally’s Apizza

237 Wooster St, New Haven, CT 06511

Apizza at Sally's in New Haven Connecticut
Pizza at Sally’s!

 

Sally’s Apizza was established by Salvatore “Sally” Consiglio , Frank Pepe’s nephew, in 1938. Frank Sinatra was a big fan of Sally’s, and often would have it delivered to New York. You can read more about Sally’s history and legacy here. When my mom and aunt came to visit me in Connecticut, I took them to Sally’s. We had one of their classic pies with just a sprinkle of cheese, and it was absolutely delicious. I never thought I would say this, but I think I liked it even more than pizzas with lots of cheese. You just have to try it. Now you can even order their pizzas online and have them shipped across the country!

Modern Apizza

874 State St, New Haven, CT 06511

While there’s a strong “rivalry” between Pepe’s and Sally’s, Modern Apizza is also a popular pick for best New Haven pizza. Modern Apizza has an interesting history that began in the early 1930s. While Pepe’s and Sally’s are located in Wooster Street, Modern Apizza is located in the East Rock neighborhood. Instead of using a coal-fired brick oven, Modern uses an oil-fueled brick oven. It was even featured on Man v. Food Nation. Some people have referred to Pepe’s, Sally’s, and Modern as the “holy trinity” of New Haven pizza.

BAR

254 Crown St, New Haven, CT 06511

Pizza at Bar in New Haven (mashed potato pizza)
A photo of the mashed potato pizza at BAR!

 

BAR is where local Yalies take their friends and family to eat. It’s pretty much a right of passage. When I started at Yale, we had our welcome dinner at BAR and I had my first taste of their pizza. I was immediately hooked. They are most known for their mashed potato pizza. Make sure to order a white pie with mashed potatoes, garlic, mozzarella, and bacon. 

See our full guide to Fall in New England!

 


My Favorite Pizza in New Haven

You might be wondering which New Haven pizzeria is my favorite. I lived in New Haven for 3 years and pizza was a regular staple in my diet. I can say with all honestly that I cannot choose a favorite. Instead, I would encourage you to visit all 4 of the New Haven pizzerias and decide for yourself. (Or not – you might find it too difficult like me!)

I will, however, give you my favorites from each pizzeria:

  • Pepe’s: White Clam Pizza
  • Sally’s: Tomato Sauce Pie
  • Modern: Italian Bomb
  • BAR: Mashed Potato Pizza

I hope you enjoy each pizzeria!

 

 


Where to Stay in New Haven (Best Hotels)

Booking.com  

  • Omni New Haven Hotel at Yale: While I was living in New Haven, I observed that this was the most popular hotel for visiting guests. I even stayed there myself when I interviewed for my position! The hotel is within walking distance to Yale University, the New Haven Green, and Union Station. Be sure to grab breakfast on the weekend at John Davenports at the Top of the Park. The restaurant is located on the 19th floor and has sweeping views of the city!
  • The Blake Hotel: This boutique hotel is also centrally located to Yale University’s campus. The hotel was named after Alice Blake, who was the first woman to graduate from Yale Law School. The Blake Hotel also has a cool rooftop bar (High George) that is open seasonally.
  • The Study at Yale: This 4-star hotel is located near the Arts Campus, which is where you can find many of New Haven’s museums and libraries.
  • Courtyard New Haven at Yale: This Marriott property is located within walking distance to the university campus. 

For a full list of hotels in New Haven, click here.


What to Pack for a Visit to New Haven

Here’s a few things you might want to pack with you to enjoy the city:

  • Comfortable Walking Shoes: You’ll be doing a lot of walking around town and campus, so make sure you pack comfortable walking shoes. I’ve been wearing Brooks brand shoes for years and have loved them. I’ve linked them here for women, and here for men.
  • Power Bank: We always keep a fully-charged power bank with us while we’re out exploring. That way, if our phone battery is running low, we can easily plug it in and re-charge on the go. We rely on our phones heavily for navigation and photography, so this product is a must for us.
  • Water Bottle: We prefer to bring an insulated re-usable water bottle when we are out exploring. 
  • Travel Guides: When I moved to Connecticut, I brought a travel guide and it gave me so many ideas for weekend adventures. It also provided good historical background to the places I visited. I’ve linked a couple here.
  • Yale Gear: Pack a Yale hoodie and enjoy all New Haven has to offer!

 

(Click on any of the above images for current pricing and shipping information!)


Frequently Asked Questions About New Haven Pizza

What is so special about New Haven pizza?

New Haven pizza has a unique dough that is both chewy and crispy. The outside of the pizza is lightly charred (typically in a coal-fired oven). New Haven pizza tends to have less cheese with more emphasis on the sauce and toppings.

Is New Haven CT known for pizza?

Pizzerias in New Haven, Connecticut, consistently rank as some of the best pizzas in the country. The most famous pizzeria, Frank Pepe’s Pizzeria Napoletana, is almost 100 years old. It was established in 1925 and helped to launch the pizza scene in New Haven.

Is New Haven pizza better than New York pizza?

Both New Haven and New York style pizzas are thin crust pizzas. New Haven pizza has a chewier crust than New York pizza, and New York pizza has more cheese. In my opinion, they are both absolutely delicious.

How is New Haven pizza made?

New Haven style pizza is made with a unique dough that is lightly charred on the outside and chewy on the inside. The pizzas are cooked at high temperatures, typically in a coal-fired oven. New Haven pizzas have a thin crust and an oblong shape. They are usually topped with a simple tomato sauce and just a hint of cheese.

What’s the difference between pizza and apizza?

The main difference between pizza and apizza is the crust. Apizza dough ferments longer and has a more chewy and firm consistency. Regular pizza tends to be topped with tomato sauce and a layer of melted mozzarella, while apizza tends to have a simple tomato sauce and just a hint of cheese (typically pecorino romano). 


Summary

One of the hardest parts about moving from New Haven to Seattle was losing access to all of these amazing pizzerias. I hope this post was helpful as you plan a visit to New Haven. Enjoy the apizza!

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