New Haven Pizza Tour
We are 8 mature NJ chowhounds who are drooling over an upcoming trip I am planning to New Haven for a whirlwind pizza tour. My fantasy is to arrive at 11:30 and hit 3-4 stops by 2:00.
Break for an hour or two at the Yale Museum and try to get in another 3-4 pizzerie on the way out of town!
What do you think? Doable? Does anyone have an opinion as to whether places will freak out over a group of 8 ordering one pie? We certainly would have beverages and would be way above average tippers. Or will we have to take out & eat in our van? It may also make sense to order 2 pies at each restaurant and just take home the leftovers.
Of course we also welcome any suggestions, especially outside the usual suspects and would be thrilled over any suggested itineraries.
Looks like our most likely date will be March 17!
Thanks for all your input.
Could be tricky...that's a lot to cover in a short period of time. I might suggest splitting up on Wooster Street. Half of you stand in line at Pepe's and the other half stand in line at Sally's. Then you have choices. You could each order one pie to stay and the other to go, swapping pies in the street afterwards. Or, if you're clever about it, you might order the pies, each eat one slice, and then, two at a time, swap tables...(maybe warn the waitstaff?). The problem is that neither Sally's nor Pepe's is open for lunch, and those are the places where you're most likely to lose a lot of time waiting on line...although maybe on St. Patrick's Day there won't be as many people eating pizza as there might be on other days.
Besides Sally's, Pepe's, and Modern, what else is on your list?
(Bring cash....Sally's doesn't take credit cards)
What are the 6-8 places you're thinking of hitting? I can only think of 5 max that might be interesting - Pepe's, Modern, Bar, Sally's, and Zinc, and of those I've only ever been to the first 3. If you go to Bar, be sure to get the mashed potato pizza with bacon; it's pretty fantastic. Pepe's and Modern are good but haven't really blown me away. Not sure what else would be worth the ride from NJ...
I'm not sure about other places just outside of New Haven, but Zuppardi's in West Haven (I hope I'm remembering the location correctly) is not that far out of the city, so that could be a stop on your way in or out. Make sure you double check on hours and acceptable payment on the places you are planning on visiting too. I think it sounds like it will be great...good luck and enjoy!
PS...also be sure to try a clam pie from Pepe's if it's availiable!
I think that the divide and conquer strategy is best. Waiting in line for a table for 8 at Pepe's, and even more so, Sally's, is going to be tough. In fact, off the top of my head, I can only think of one table at Pepe's that would hold 8 adults, and that is the round one that sits by the cash register just as you enter the back room. Don't even know if Sally's has a table for 8 adults. In any event, after the waitstaff goes out of their way to find room for you, if you only order a single pie, they will be (justifiably) exasperated. Instead, go to both places as a four and a four and each order a pie there, sharing from table to table.
And I agree with other posters. There really aren't 8 places try, and with the hours they keep, it would be tough to do. Here's my proposed itinerary:
All 8 go to Pepe's for lunch and sit as a 4 and 4. If the table for 8 is open, take it, but I'd order more than one pie if you do. If you split the group, each table orders a pie, and you can swap pieces. If you get there when it opens, (11:30) you should be done there by 12:30. You can then head to Modern which is also open for lunch. You should be seated, served and done by 2:00-2:30. Again, be prepared to sit as a 4 and a 4, but sitting as an 8-top at lunch is not out of the question. If you are a glutton for punishment, you can squeeze in another place that serves continuously from luch through dinner, but frankly, I can't recommend one. Save your appetite, or what is left of it, for dinner.
At 4:30, head back to Wooster Street. Go as a 4 and a 4 at the same time to The Spot and Sally's. (The Spot opens at 4:00 and Sally's at 5:00. Get in line at Sally's at 4:30 and you should get in at 5:00, and at 5:00 the other group should find no line at The Spot). While there, each group orders a pie to eat in and a small to go. Meet out on the sidewalk to swap take-out pies after you finish dining. Make sure you stagger your eat-in and take out orders as you want to pick up your take-out pie just as you are ready to leave. Better to have your group done and paid for, and waiting out on the sidewalk when the pie gets out of the oven than to have the pie ready too early. If you are going for a "once in a lifetime" smackdown, you want the pies hot, and not warm, sitiing in a box.
When you finish your sidewalk picnic swap, head over to Bar at any time. It serves late, so no need to rush.
That gets you 5 places in one day. Bring a cooler and some ice and prepare to take home plenty of leftovers.
Ernie's is truthfully my old favorite, but I also grew up on it. IMO, they do have the best sauce on a pie, and their sausage is really good. Most people find there pizza cheesier and greasier than other New Haven spots. Their crust always comes out good and dark, and the ends thicker and crispier. They do use electric (or is it gas) ovens, so that is also very different from the "big 3" pizza spots.
Ernie's is really close to the Merritt, and I think it may be open for lunch (I couldn't find info on that though, sorry) so it would be a good first or last stop. Also, Dayton St. Pizza is right around the corner, the owner used to work for Modern.
As for The Spot, it is not different enough from a culinary standpoint, but since it sits on "the spot" of the original Pepe's, it has some history going for it. the reason I included it is because Sally's isn't open for lunch, and it would be hard to be seated as an 8 there. So I suggested that you break up the group. but if you want to take The Spot off the board, go as early as you can to Sally's and prepare to split into a 4 and 4. If you want to add another place to substitute in for The Spot, I would go with Zuppardi's.