Since 1925, New Haven has cemented its status as a promised land for thin-crusted ‘Apizza’ (pronounced “ah-beetz” by those who know it best). For decades, hordes of hungry pizza-mongers have clambered through the streets of Wooster Square in search of the perfect slice of New Haven-style pie — a subject still fiercely debated today. So where to begin? If you don’t mind a line, go with the classics first: a slice of Pepe’s world-famous White Clam Pie and Modern Apizza’s almighty Italian Bomb, followed by a quick bite of Sally’s white tomato pie to compare (Sally’s fans say it’s enough to end the debate once and for all). And then there’s joints more off-the-beaten-path like Ernie’s, the Westville favorite turning 40 years old and the increasingly popular Da Legna, drawing in crowds with its ‘artisan’ take on ‘Apizza’ and freshly-sourced ingredients shipped over from Italy itself.
And finally — No trip to New Haven is complete without a mouthful of the mashed potato, bacon and garlic white pie from BAR’s (in)famous playbook.
Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana
Once upon a time (in 1925, to be exact), Italian migrant Frank Pepe opened his signature pizzeria on Wooster Street – and the world, as they say, would never be the same. Fast-forward over 90 years, and Mr. Pepe’s legacy lives on at Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana, credited as the first (and many say finest) ‘Apizza’ establishment and one of New Haven’s most popular attractions. Wondering what to order? Three words: White. Clam. Pizza. Oh, and a local Foxon Park Birch Beer to wash it all down.
Rivaling Pepe’s popularity in both taste and technique (a feud that has fueled families on both sides of the aisle for ages). Sally’s loyal following of Apizza devotees insist the parlor’s signature pie with sauce and grated cheese is enough to end the debate.
It’s worth noting that some New Haven’s finest pizza parlors reside outside downtown’s confines, like Ernie’s, for example, the Westville favorite that has been family-owned and operated since 1971, touting a tasty blend of Neopolitan-meets-NYC-style pizza, bordered by a delightfully crispy crust that ‘kneads’ no introduction.
Also among the ranks of New Haven’s pizza elite, Modern Apizza has solidified a name for itself with a wood-fired approach to traditional Apizza – delighting its audiences with fresh, artisanal toppings and bold menu items like the aptly-titled ‘Italian Bomb’ pie, buried in bacon, sausage, pepperoni, mushroom, onion, garlic, and peppers.
Born in 1991, BAR is the beloved baby of the New Haven pizza scene, attracting a younger, hipper crowd with its innovative take on traditional Pepe’s-style pies, paired with beer brewed in-house and high-energy late-night vibes.
Da Legna x Nolo
State Street newcomer Da Legna (literally meaning “from wood”) has quickly acquired a cult-like appreciation from pizza connoisseurs who crave something different from the competition. And that’s exactly what owner Dan Parillo was going for when he opened the parlor in 2012. With freshly-sourced ingredients shipped in from Italy every week, Da Legna’s take on neopolitan ‘craft’ pizza is the best you’ll find outside of Naples, Italy. Top menu picks include: The Classic Margherita, the Napoli, the Rustica, the Broccoli Rabe, and the State Street.
Pizza at the Brick Oven
Founded by Turkish immigrant Kadir Catalbasoglu and his family 20 years ago, Pizza at the Brick Oven remains a beloved community landmark among Yale students and longstanding residents alike. It’s not just the pizza that draws people in – it’s the people. Pay a visit to the Oven and you’ll be greeted like family, no matter what time of day (or night – the Brick Oven stays open until 4am on weekends).