Attention pizza fans: Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana (Pepe's, for those in the know) is preparing to open their 8th restaurant, this time in West Hartford, CT. Pepe's, an institution in the pizza world, is third-generation owned and operated—the first location opened nearly 90 years ago in 1925, in New Haven, CT.
'New Haven' on Serious Eats
Clam pizza is the kind of pizza that you need to start eating immediately after it's cut into slices, before the copious clam juices have a chance to render the crust completely soggy (though some degree of sogginess is inevitable—a feature for some, even). Even so, roasting a clam in the open heat of an oven is not the ideal way to do it, even if its been freshly shucked. Want to know the secret to the absolute tenderest, most flavorful clams and juiciest clam pizza around? Place the whole, unshucked clams on that pie before baking. It may look strange at first, and it will definitely look strange when it comes out of the oven, but the clams will be insanely tender and you won't lose a single drop of those precious juices.
People like to give Yalies grief about New Haven. They point to the crime and the poverty and those are, without a doubt, serious problems which affect the community. But when they act like New Haven has nothing more to its name than a couple good pizza joints, well, I feel the need to step in.
In my mind some desserts are inextricably linked to certain people. Such is the case with my late great-Aunt Ida and her beloved Lemon Chocolate Pie. For the uninitiated, Lemon Chocolate Pie is a staple in New Haven, Connecticut bakeries, and a pie I've yet to encounter elsewhere.
We're not going to lie: As any West Coast or Southwestern transplant can tell you, finding great tacos on the East Coast is no easy task, but it's not impossible. You just have to be willing to go a bit off the beaten path. Head to neighborhoods with large Mexican immigrant populations and the trucks hanging out on street corners. The east coast is where we also found some more of the high-end chefs making everything from the ultra-traditional to the far more rarefied taco.
I've shared my opinion on pizza toppings here already but the real question is, what does resident tasting expert and Serious Eats Puppy-At-Large Hambone like on his pies?
Though New York may lay claim as the cradle of pizza in America, many people would say that New Haven has the best. Certainly, there are a higher ratio of good to bad pizzerias in the area than there are almost anywhere else in the world. The question is, who's got the best?
I've been past New Haven on I-95 for near-on three decades now, slowly watching the collection of food trucks grow and grow until it finally reached full-on convoy size. While you'll find a Puerto Rican truck serving some pretty decent lechon and a few trucks specializing in tortas and pinchos, most of the trucks here are hardcore Mexican taco trucks. On our recent road trip up to New Haven, we decided to order a couple tacos from every single one so we could lead you, Serious Eaters, along the path of righteousness should you ever find yourself in the area.
We're hopping in our SE Ford today to go on a pizza crawl in New Haven. The stops include: Sally's, Pepe's, Modern, and Zuppardi's. Of course we'd leave some room in our bellies for non-pizza things too. Particularly sandwiches. Where should we stop?
As with any road trip, the all-important matter of lunch came up first. Even before we started discussing it, I was pretty sure where Ed was going to lead us. See, both he and Connecticut Slice correspondent Amy Kundrat have waxed poetic about what is supposedly the "best clam pizza on the planet" (according to Ed). As a kid who pretty much grew up eating clam pizzas in New Haven and beyond, this, I had to taste.
From Sally's Apizza [Photograph: Adam Kuban] The New Haven Pizza Fest got underway last Thursday and Friday. While sadly two days are behind us, the good news is that the second half of the festival is this Thursday and Friday from 12-1:30 pm on the New Haven Green (map). If you can get there, why wouldn't you?! The festival is a fundraiser for The Connection Fund. They have had 483 pizzas donated from 28 area pizzerias, including their sponsors Modern Apizza, Abate, Tolli's, P&M, Born in America, and Marco Pizzeria. Slices are going for 3 bucks each or 2...
The Caseus Grilled Cheese truck is the mobile offshoot of the Caseus cheese-shop-cum-bistro in New Haven. Using up the end bits of provolone, Swiss, comte, gruyere, gouda, and sharp cheddar from the shop, they melt the blend on buttered, toasted sourdough slices in the truck to order. In addition to the classic bread-plus-cheese ($5) you can throw on any number of add-ons for a buck each: guacamole, sweet applewood bacon, roasted red peppers, grilled onions, Jambon de Paris, tomato, or arugula. Look for daily specials on the colorful chalkboard out front.
A slice of New Haven's Wooster Street arrived in Danbury, Connecticut last week in the form of a new outpost of Frank Pepe's Pizzeria Napoletana. Just to make absolutely sure this was not a wintertime mirage, I headed over to the new Danbury branch during a recent snow day.
According to the staff, the original pizza cook at Bar once worked at Sally's on Wooster Street, and at first glance, the pedigree is apparent: the pizzas are served over a sheet of parchment paper set into aluminum sheet trays, shaped into elongated circles to better fit the rectangular pan. There are differences, too, though—the pizzas are substantially thinner than other New Haven pies, and they are sliced into rectangles rather than the usual wedges.
Ken Lassen, grandson of Louis' Lunch founder Louis Lassen and proprietor of Louis' Lunch for 65 years, died last Tuesday at age 93. Louis Lunch in New Haven, Connecticut, is known as the "birthplace of the hamburger" and has been serving their famous broiled burgers on toast since 1900.
I wouldn't be surprised if more people were familiar with Lithuanian coffee cake in New Haven, Connecticut, than in Lithuania proper. Why do the locals, namely Yalies, love this treat from Claire's Corner Copia so? Three reasons: the dense sour cream cake, the middle brown stripe (sweet raisins and walnuts coated in brown sugar and coffee grounds), and the buttercream frosting. While most coffee cakes are just nice things to nosh on between gulps of coffee, this one actually has coffee in it.
A few friends of Slice visited New Haven, Connecticut, recently (both independent of one another) and loaded up on pizza at some of the city's most celebrated pizzerias. First up on Sunday was pizza photographer Hong-An Tran (who we interviewed here a couple weeks ago). She and a couple of friends hit up Bar, Frank Pepe's, Modern, and Sally's in that order. Only at Sally's were they blown away, it seems.