Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > All New England Archive >
Feb 7, 2009 07:37 PM

I tried Modern Apizza (New Haven)

I've never had "New Haven Pizza" before this. I'm not sure what to think of it really. I liked the charred(sp?) bottom and the texture of the crust. Although slightly thicker would've been nice. I liked how it had some herbs or spices stuck to the bottom of it for a bit of flavor.

Toppings were OK. Nothing special.

The worst - Where was the sauce? I could NOT taste sauce at all. There was a slight swirl on the end towards the crust and not really enough to taste there either.

I considered going right to Sally's or Pepe's to compare but it was 1 pm and there was a line out the door just like I read on here.

I probably wouldn't drive back up there for that unless I was bored.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Pics of my Modern aPizza with pepperoni, cheese and black olives...

    1. the stuff you saw on the bottom was probably corn meal. it keeps the dough from sticking. good use of that photo feature btw.

      try sally's though. as a matter of fact a show on travel channel that just ended showed flo from sally's and pepe's pizza also.

      1 Reply
      1. re: shoreline

        What would be different about Sally's or even Pepe's though? Can anyone who knows these places give more detail on the differences?

        It wasn't corn meal.. was kind of flaky stuff actually in the crust. Not sure what it was really.

      2. By definition, NH pizza is thin, very thin, and doesn't have a lot of sauce. But they're very accomodating, next time just ask for a little more sauce when you order. But not too much, you'll end up with a soaked crust. Try their sausage (bulk) with mushrooms. Or a white clam pizza with garlic (never a sauce problem).

        1 Reply
        1. re: rbailin

          Everyone who talks about NewHaven pizza talks about the white clam. Is that the big thing there?

          I"m not into clams...

          Maybe I'll go to Zupperadis(sp?) and try the buffalo chicken but then I'm pretty satisfied with the ones in RI.

        2. I went to Modern a couple of weeks ago. The pizza was just "good". Not great, not bad but "good". I remember it better. This time it was nothing special and certainly not worth a special trip or to go out of your way. If I am in New Haven already, i will go there.

          1 Reply
          1. re: johnpops1

            I've actually had the same experience the last time I went which was before the holidays. I've had better from them before. Maybe it was an off day for someone??

          2. You have to keep in mind that in New Haven, "pizza" as we know it has always been known as a tomato pie. Hence, the "sauce" is not sauce at all. It is crushed San Marzano tomatoes placed on the pie like a topping. It is not a cooked "sauce" used as a foundation upon which all else is built. If your preference is for a saucy pizza, you will be disappointed.

            25 Replies
            1. re: FoodieJim

              True... I like the NH pizza, but it is pretty dry. I like it sloppy with juices; Chicago style.

              1. re: FoodieJim

                You think all the New haven pizza shops are using San Marzano tomatoes?

                1. re: triggs73

                  I don't know what "all" is. But Pepe's and Sally's traditionally used them. Wouldn't surprise me if they have found suitable substitutes in this day and age where growing and canning are so much more consistent than in the past. In the 30 years that I have been going, I have not noticed a decline in quality of the tomatoes. (Personally, I have never bought in to the notion that it has to be San Marzano or nothing.)

                  1. re: FoodieJim

                    I must have miss read your post then because it sounded like you were saying that all New Haven pizza is made with crushed San Marzano tomatoes. Not a big deal, but just figured that especially now a days with costs going through the roof, I think that San MArzanos are used less than what they were.

                    1. re: triggs73

                      last week we went to pepes and had a clam with bacon that was simply mind tomato or sauce,just sweet clams,they totally tasted fresh shucked,with lots of bacon,big chunks of garlic and im sure olive oil.perfect char,simply amazing,way beyond what one thinks of when all you know is tomato and cheese "pizza".get one!!!!!!

                      1. re: im hungry

                        ih, you are a cruel teaser. I'm hungry, and I wish I weren't 1200 miles away.

                        1. re: im hungry

                          Disclaimer: Some folks prefer pizza to clam and bacon flatbreads.

                          1. re: ratbuddy

                            Those "flatbreads" were being made in New Haven - and called pizza - long before the invention of the thick-crusted, sauce-drenched, over-topped stuff that is so common now. But if you like the other stuff, there's always the Pizza Hut in West Haven.

                            1. re: alanbarnes

                              No sauce? Fine, it's a 'white' pizza. No cheese? Fine, it's a .. Well, it's not a pizza.

                              Insinuating that I'm some kind of mass-market 'pizza' goon? Not cool. My personal favorite is Harry's Bishop's corner..

                              edit: Oh yeah.. As the menu board clearly states, it was called a 'Tomato Pie' in New Haven, not a pizza.

                              1. re: ratbuddy

                                The first thing to ever be called pizza - pizza marinara - has only tomato, oregano, garlic, and olive oil. Maybe basil. No cheese. They've been selling it since 1738 at Antica Pizzeria Port’Alba in Naples.

                                In New Haven, pizzas have been called pizzas (or apizze) for more than a century. Frank Pepe was selling them from a cart around 1900, and although the menu board at his place lists "Tomato Pies," he named his restaurant "Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana." Not "Frank Pepe Tomato-Pie-eria."

                                Back to the cheese issue, Frank popularized the white clam pie - no tomato, no mozzarella - long before anything that claimed to be pizza was coming out of the ovens at Henry Bishop's (or Pizza Hut). You may prefer pizza with cheese on it, but claiming that anything without cheese isn't pizza is simply incorrect.

                                1. re: alanbarnes

                                  It's Harry's Bishop's Corner. Not Henry Bishop's. If you want a real good pizza, they're a must-try. If you prefer Pizza Hut, that's just fine too.

                                  Also, while Antica Pizzeria Port'Alba was open and selling flatbreads and other street food since 1738, it did not actually become a pizzeria until 1830. Slightly misleading, although the earlier date is oft-quoted..

                              2. re: alanbarnes

                                Pizza Hut! Ouch! Sorry, I don't have the local loyalty or tough hide required to fight these apizza wars! I also don't get (as I've stated here before), what makes people so crazy about pizza. When I first moved up here (seven years ago), it seemed about all that was discussed on Chowhound or EGullet.
                                I really do like the fresh clam apizzas (except for the pieces of shell), but otherwise, if I get the itch, I make my own. I'm not going through the ordeal of the Wooster Street/State Street scene.

                                1. re: Scargod

                                  Tex, we're in another one of those conundrums of what one knows growing up vs what is "authentic": like the Chile-chili debate. Growing up in The Garden State, another hot bed of Italian food (and dearth of good Mexican), I'm drooling to try a Peppe's clam bacon whit. Maybe in April, we can hit it, if you want, on an off hour. Would a week day mid-afternoon be less crowded?

                                  1. re: Passadumkeg

                                    Modern Apizza Hours
                                    Tuesday–Thursday: 11 am–11 pm
                                    Friday & Saturday: 11 am–12 midnight
                                    Sunday: 3 pm–10 pm
                                    Monday: Closed
                                    I'm sure a late lunch would be preferable. In the evenings I've always seen lines, albeit, some were short.
                                    Here's their website: Funny, the picture makes the sidewalk look huge, which it's not. Sometimes it's difficult to get past the place because of the crowd. I don't think I will take SO there for Valentine's dinner.

                                    1. re: Scargod

                                      My bro will do us baby backed ribs after we land in LV on VD! Warmth, sun & good Mexican food!

                                      1. re: Scargod

                                        The line thing is, in my experience, a total myth. That's not to say that there aren't lines, but, after going to Modern on about a once a month basis for the last five years, I've only once waited on line for more than ten minutes. At least ninety percent of the times I've gone, the wait has been more like five minutes. Usually, the wait is basically just a backup caused by the hostess only being able to seat people so fast (as opposed to every table being full and having to wait for other customers to clear out). I've also only ever gone in the evening, so it's not like I've just happened to be there at slow points. The line moves very fast. I have seen and heard of longer lines, but only between about 6:30 and 7:30, and only late in the week or on the weekend.
                                        I am not a very patient person when it comes to food. I've left plenty of restaurants over not having a drink in front of me within ten minutes of arriving. Despite that, Modern has only come close to trying my patience once, when I was stupid enough to go at 7 on Saturday of Yale's move in weekend. Even then, from the time I parked to the time I had pizza in my mouth was under half an hour.

                                        1. re: Scargod

                                          For what it's worth, I've been to Modern 4 times, each time after 9pm and I've never waited 10 seconds for a table, sit, drink, eat.

                                          Clam with Bacon is A+++!

                                          1. re: Bill Strzempek

                                            Well...whadda I know? I just see the lines as I drive by, on my way to a place where I have a reservation and a table waiting for me. I'm old; I deserve it. I've paid my standing in lines dues, and now, I'm not going to do it in the freezing cold and being with smokers. Since several of you have clarified that it is not a wait, or a long wait, I will have to try going to Modern, off peak. Is Pepe's the same way? When are the "not long wait" periods?
                                            I'm also (frankly), intimidated by the secret lingo and how to say it. Moz/no moz, not charred, more sauce.. extra this or that. I don't want to be dope-slapped by a surly waitress at Sally's for asking dumb questions or saying something wrong. Is there a primer?

                                            1. re: Scargod

                                              Your concerns are completely valid for Pepe's and Sally's. The lines are far worse at both than at Modern (though still not even close to what the legends claim). They also don't seem to be nearly as efficient, especially at Sally's. Every time I have ever waited at Sally's, someone from the Sally's in crowd has shown up and gotten to skip the line, typically with a party large enough to set the line back a good ten minutes. This has happened to me at Pepe's, but probably only half the time. This doesn't happen at Modern.
                                              Waitstaff at Sally's and Pepe's also are sometimes nasty (again, Sally's moreso than Pepe's) and you can get snapped at for ordering wrong. Again, not as bad as the legends claim, but still a distinct possibility. And again, it doesn't happen at Modern.
                                              Pepe's and Modern both seem to understand that they are an attraction, that many people coming in are first timers, and that this is the reason they make decent cash. Sally's absolutely doesn't seem to get this. Their general attitude seems to be, "If you're not part of our in crowd, you're a damned nuisance."
                                              You have nothing to worry about with lingo at Modern. As much as I go there, I order the same way I order at any other pizza place. They either correctly assume that when I say plain, I mean "sauce, cheese, and dough" or they ask a clarifying question. A lot of the waitstaff in the evenings are eager to please late high school or early college kids (I feel old, no longer being able to distinguish) who understand that being nice means a good tip, which means a better time on the weekend. If you want to be extra careful with how you order, just specify everything you want on top of your dough, sauce and cheese included. But, like I said, if you say, "Plain," they will say, "mozzarella?" And they'll say it nicely.

                                              1. re: danieljdwyer

                                                I never knew Pepe's and Sally's were like local versions of Seinfeld's Soup Nazi episode--GEEZ. But Modern has been on my list of places to try since it was recommended to me some time ago and based on positive comments I've read here...your addition to this thread seals the deal for me. Their clams casino pie sounds delicious.

                                                1. re: danieljdwyer

                                                  Mrs 02sbxstr and I have been many times to Pepe's in NH and have never encountered a waitstaff member with an attitude. We always go at lunch time - maybe its different at dinner. I know of Sally's reputation re the 'in crowd' and that is a reason we have never considered going there. (Aside from the fact they're not open for lunch.) We like Modern, but we're making a special trip from Glastonbury and don't want to settle.

                                                2. re: Scargod

                                                  You can also call in Modern and pick it up at a side door that is just for take-out. You can do a similar move at Pepe's by going to The Spot which is a little side building that houses the original Pepes oven.

                                            2. re: Passadumkeg

                                              there are Pepe lovers and Sally lovers, jfood the latter. Jfood had a clam pie last year, not to his taste. He would skip the clam pie and get a good bacon 'za from sallys.

                                              And if you do go to pepes, order a pitcher of soda, not a glass. When you see it you will know why.

                                          2. re: alanbarnes

                                            Big Al, just curious, how is a good Californicator like you so conversant on NH pizza? Are you a bi-coaster?

                                            1. re: Passadumkeg

                                              I had a parapatetic youth, including six years in Boston. During that time, my best friend was in New Haven, and we spent many a tipsy Saturday evening in line at the Modern.