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Modern Apizza...Seriously? That's the best you can do?

On the Boston board I started a thread about where to go for our Italian night while in Boston...Al Dente, Santarpio's or Regina. This elicited much lively debate about the merits (or demerits) of each place. As stated in the original thread, we eventually ended up choosing Regina a week ago Friday and it was AWESOME!! I went so far as to say it was the second best pizza I had ever had.

With that very positive experience (and tasty pizza) under our belts, we eagerly anticipated our trip to New Haven and Modern Apizza. After all the hype of seeing it on a number of Food Network shows (Man vs. Food, etc.) we figured we were headed for pizza nirvana. How wrong we were. I have to say, I don't recall ever being so let down by a pizza in my life. Especially after all the anticipation. But this apizza thing was nothing short of awful. The crust was mushy, floppy and just plain bad. The sauce was salty (I was still tasting salt for the rest of the day) and the cheese and toppings were only so-so. People on the Boston board wanted us to post our thoughts, comparing the pizza at Modern to Regina. But to even begin to compare this slop to Pizzeria Regina is laughable. Needless to say, Pizzeria Regina was our hands-down favorite and Modern actually ended up being the most disappointing meal of our nine day trip. Too bad...we had such high hopes.

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Modern Apizza
874 State St, New Haven, CT 06511

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  1. Pepe's trumps Regina trumps Modern all day long, IMO. If you are trying to incite yet another pizza riot here, the warriors are home, sharpening their swords...

    14 Replies
    1. re: Veggo

      ands Sally's trumps Pepe's..................

      Veggo, I don't have to sharpen my sword. Went to visit my mother in New Haven late this afternoon, then across to Wooster St and Apizza nirvana at Sally's. Tomorrow, I have to be back in Hamden, and will lunch at Glenwood in your honor. Going to negotiate the sale of a property on Dixwell near Cherry Street (does Sterling and Susman bring back memories?)

      1. re: bagelman01

        The clothiers, of course. Bagelman, the old 'hood has indeed changed. I still mourn the loss of Fenn-Feinstein, JPress, Arthur Rosenberg, and Alan White's surliness!
        If Wayne is at the Glenwood, tell him hey for me..enjoy the clams or lobster roll!

        1. re: bagelman01

          bagelman01,

          Have a hot dog at the Glenwood on me. I travelled all the way from New Jersey to have a dog there. It was worth the trip.

          1. re: bagelman01

            dixwell/cherry....cherry hill? cherry ann? venice pizza territory...lock your doors!

            1. re: bagelman01

              Perhaps my first experience at Sally's killed any interest in the New Haven phenomenon. After hearing all of the praise, I decided to grab a pie at Sally's. Got there early, and nailed a place at the head of the line. By the time they opened the doors, the line was down the block. Since I was at the head of the line, I walked in, and grabbed a seat at the first place I saw. Within seconds, the entire place was packed, and there wasn't a seat to be had. One minute later, this bitchy waitress walked up to my table, put a "RESERVED" sign on the table, and told me that I had to move. The table was reserved for "regulars". When I pointed out that all the other tables had been taken, she told me to get back into line. Since I had no intention on waiting a second time, I asked her to order me a takeout pie. She refused, indicating that I was probably going to get the take out pie, and sit down at an open table when one opened up. I had to fight to get the damn order accepted. The pie was good, but it certainly wasn't worth the abuse, and the obnoxious attitude.

              I like the coal-fired oven idea, and the whole Wooster Street atmosphere, but I will not spend a penny there after being treated like dirt.

              1. re: rogersmithiii

                I make no apologies for the staff at Sally's. In more than 55 years eating there I've never received rude service. That doesn't mean someone else might recieve less than stellar service.

                I am a regular, have the private number and can avoid the line. Do I abuse it? NO. Have I stuck with them in the good and bad times over more than half a century, YES. Do they make my favorite apizza, YES. Do I also eat pizza elsewhere, yes.

                Unfortunately, your decision not to patronize them will not hurt them, they have to turn away business, and don't want to expand in terms of space or hours.

                1. re: bagelman01

                  It would be interesting to hear your definition of what abuse of the private number is. I would define it as using it at any time to avoid waiting in line. It is one thing to treat regulars with some deference, perhaps a comped drink or pizza, but is is another thing to let them jump the line. They are obviously free to run their business as they see fit, but I would never patronize an establishment that practiced what they do. If they didn't have a reserved notation on a table when they opened the doors, and then evicted someone who took an open table, someone should be visiting the public accommodations lawyers.

                  1. re: sbxstr

                    Expedited service is of more value to regulars than a nominal comped item. Non-regulars on Wooster St. are second class citizens, period. That's the way it is. A Hobson's choice. Bagelman01 is fortunate to have been welcomed to the inner circle without the usual pre-requisite of being Italian, but decades of patronage and familiarity are an alternate means of entry to the club.

                    1. re: sbxstr

                      abuse of the private number examples:
                      calling and saying I'll be arriving in 10 minutes and jumping the line
                      Non-abuse
                      Calling early in the day or at 5 and making an advance reservation for 7:30 (reservations not generally accepted from the public) and arriving at the appointed hour and being able to go to the front of the line

                      I have never had them evict a party from a table to seat me, and would not accept the table if they did so.

                      Sometimes with the entry rush when unlocking at 5, a customer may seat themselves before an employee has had the chance to put the reserved sign on a table. That said the displaced diner should be offered the next available table.

                      1. re: bagelman01

                        They had all day to prepare for the opening "rush" . And from the sounds of it, it happens fairly often and should not have been a surprise. The staff screwed up plain and simple, and the poster here was wronged.

                        1. re: Msample

                          There are two sides to every story. I've been a few times, and I have to say that the people here have never been anything but nice. Something about the story doesn't sound right to me. I'm not saying they're lying, but Flo has a pretty good grip on everything as it relates to the seating and times for carryout orders.

                          If I have one gripe, it's that the bathroom is pretty gross.

                  2. re: rogersmithiii

                    Perhaps I missed something, but if the hostess/waitress did not provide for an alternative accomodation, that's some bunk ass shit. The "private phone number" doesn't bother me so much, but someone getting bumped like that and not having other arrangements made for them, just so the "regulars" can cut in line is straight up shitty. I know, this type of thing happens every day, but if ownership wants to violate federal law (or just be general douchebags) the onus then falls onto the "regulars" to "do the right thing" (if they so choose). I, for one, would not accept a table if I knew that someone who'd procured it in a legit manner was being moved against their will to accomodate me. At least not if they weren't being offered another seat. I was looking forward to a dedicated New Haven pizza excursion from Boston this summer. Perhaps I still will, just without a stop (heresy?!) at Sally's.

                    1. re: BrettLove

                      Agree with the above. It's the restaurant's fault for not managing the seating properly. It isn't that hard. Since they don't open til 5, they have the entire day to figure out seating for Christ's sake. I would not have vacated the table til they provided a suitable alternative. What are they going to do, call the cops ? Fuck 'em. It's not like I would be going back anyways.

                      The fact that "regulars" can cut the line is an added incentive not to patronize the place.

                      1. re: Msample

                        I've always wanted to try Sally's. After reading this I am no longer interested. I'll stick w/Modern.

              2. Hometown bias, you probably like the redsux, too <VBG>

                I'm a native New Havener, and think Modern makes only a 'fair' pie at best. My fist choice is Sally's, then I can be satified at Pepe's (Wooster St only, not branches), The Spot, Ernies in Westville, Papa's on Naugatuck Ave in Milford, Julian's on RT 25 in Monroe, Zuppardi's in West Haven.

                I just spent 1/2 my week the last three years in Massachusetts adn never found pizza that I liked. It is very hard to lose your home town bias. I love New Haven Apizza, I like NY pizza, I detest most Massachusetts pizza. Pizzeria Regina is passable, but not really good.

                BTW> If you search Modern Apizza on this board you will find a number of recent posts that show dissatisfaction with Modern.

                20 Replies
                1. re: bagelman01

                  There's the small problem that the OP isn't from Boston and therefore has no hometown bias for Boston.

                  But yeah, my understanding has always been that Modern is at best a distant fourth behind Frank Pepe's, Sally's and The Spot.

                  1. re: Jenny Ondioline

                    sorry, Jenny, OP didn't say not from Boston, but about posting on the Boston Board.

                    I stand by home town biases in general. I feel Modern is a distant number, nowhere close to 4th.

                  2. re: bagelman01

                    Never had pizza in Boston, but go to the Cape several times a year and I'm always looking for a pizza fix. Needless to say, Cape Cod pizza leaves a lot to be desired (cheddar as a common component with mozzerella? really?). Not sure if the Cape Cod style carries throughout Mass, but when we go we can't wait to get home for our CT pizz fix..

                    I'm a long time New Haven pizza eater. For me it was always Pepe's hands down (sentiment goes hand in hand with the Spot). Sallys was good for my 1 and only visit, but service was so rude and offputting I never went back. Why bother with awful service from Sally's when Pepe's is 200 feet away?

                    Modern? Went once and it was good... but wasn't Pepe's.

                    I'm in Fairfield now so I get the "franchised" Pepe's pizza now. Still a decent pizza, but nowhere near the style coming from the original Pepe's / Spot.

                    1. re: foleyd7

                      I have had Regina and it is better than Modern, no question.
                      But I also don't think that Regina is the best pizza in Boston, I am not sure Boston has a best pizza that is comparable to a good New Haven pie.

                      Pepe's and Sally's are the contenders in New Haven.

                      So to answer the OP's question, no, that is not the best we can do!

                      1. re: foleyd7

                        If the pizza you had on Cape Cod had cheddar, then you had what's known in eastern MA as "bar pie," and no, it's not the local pizza standard but a rather divisive subset.

                        1. re: foleyd7

                          My cousin lives on the Cape, and swears by George's in Harwich.

                          http://www.georgespizzahouse.com/

                          I've never had any, so I can't personally comment. Her taste in food is pretty decent.

                        2. re: bagelman01

                          To bagelman

                          If you're anywhere East Longmeadow, try Peppa's. Closest to Wooster st. style you'll find in the Springfield area. I also tried Regina once and if that's the best in Boston, that's too bad for them. I'll take Pepe's and Sally's over Modern any day. Modern is underdone all the time. I actually grew up on Venice Pizza on Dixwell ave. Great pizza.

                          Also, do you mean Cherry Ann St and Dixwell? Isn't that the old Dixwell Playhouse?

                          1. re: awm922

                            Old Dixwell Playhouse, now Columbia Upholstery, Sterling and Susman just north. Cross Cherry Ann going south and Venice was on the first floor of an aprtment block near the church.

                            1. re: bagelman01

                              aka Johnny's Apizza, operated by the Cricca family. I still think their pizza was better than the wooster St. places. Having grown up on Cherrry Ann St. we certainly had it often and maybe that's how one's sense of "best pizza" gets established. But we would occasionaly go to Pepe's then, and still liked Criccas better. I think they had the best sauce, and I wish I could replicate it.

                              1. re: junescook

                                key to replicating most great New Haven Apizza sauce is to use bacon dripping as well as olive oil in the sauce. Most vegetarians think that ordering a pie with just cheese and vegetables is ok, but pizza places have long pour off fat drippings as a way to save money whn making sauce.

                                1. re: bagelman01

                                  completely, outrageously, and sofa king false

                                  1. re: BiscuitBoy

                                    BB,
                                    I don't know what 'sofa king' false means.
                                    I started working in New Haven Apizza place before I was 16 (More than 40 years ago ) and this is how the sauce was made. The owner was a nephew of the famopus Wooster Street family and had trained there.
                                    I have seen this technique used at both traditional Italian Apizza places and Greek owned Pizza joints in Greter New Haven over the years.

                                    It is not commonly used in places that do not use cooked sauce on the pies, as the poured off dripping don't mix well with the canned tomato product and spices without being heated.

                                    1. re: bagelman01

                                      geeze bagel, we've run in the same circles it sounds like! I've been in consiglio and bimonte kitchens (friend of the fam, not an employee) and I have not seen the bacon trick. You have me very curious now

                                      1. re: BiscuitBoy

                                        If you're old enough to remember in the 50s/60s the current Subway location on Whalley Ave in Westville was an Apizza rest with the same name as the family on Wooster St. I worked there, Also at Luigi's on Whalley across from Davis Street (currently occupied by Ernies)(also related to the Wooster Street family), and I worked at Pizza Pal (Greek owned) opposite the cemeteries on Fitch Street in the 70s. Was exposed to this method at all three.

                                        I have done my share of helping out at the other famous Wooster Street Apizza Restaurant over the years (close friend of family), but they don't cook sauce so this method isn't used there.

                                        Basic observation: if the Apizza place only serves Apizza they don't cook sauce, they mix wet and dry ingredients and ladle on dough (it bakes in the oven). If a pizza place also serves hot subs, pasta, and baked pasta dishes then one is likely to run into cooked sauce. It is cheaper to use the raw sauce on pizza, but when the kitchen gets slammed, or they run out or the pie man is lazy, cooked sauce finds its way onto the dough. This can account for liking the pie one time and not the next.

                                        1. re: bagelman01

                                          Ahh... the Westville pizza shop. A favorite of my dads. Almost as good as Pepe's and about 10 min closer when you are doing "pick up" from Derby.

                                          Thanks for the bacon insight! I'll let my dad know his boder-line cholesterol problem probably started 30 years ago with the "tomato pie"!!

                            2. re: awm922

                              North end Regina is excellent, all other outlets are not nearly as good. As a Boston boy, I'v eonly tried Pepe's (original), and nothing in Mass compares. I've not tried Sally's (too long of a line, and I don't have the "special phone number"), or Modern(my New Haven friend caurtoned against it - he's a Pepe's man).

                              1. re: kimfair1

                                I should clarify a couple of things:

                                1). I am not from Boston. Check out my username and you'll have a clue where I'm from.
                                We were vacationing in new England last week and took the opportunity to try a couple of pizzas in various places.

                                2). The Regina's we went to was in the North End, which is generally regarded as the best Regina's. I stand by my assertion that the Regina pizza was the second best I have ever had and the Modern apizza, while not the worst I've ever had was certainly in the bottom half. Sorry we didn't get to Pepe's or Sally's to get a true taste of New Haven pizza.

                                1. re: gbpakrfan

                                  It gives you a reason to come back! They can't all be winners. If it makes you feel any better I think it's decent enough pizza, but certainly nothing I would make a special trip for. I've raved to people about the pizza at Motorino only to have those same friends say they didn't get what all the hype was about. What can you do? Good luck on your future pizza quests.

                                  1. re: ladybugthepug

                                    Stopped into Pepe's yesterday on the way back from NYC to Boston and ordered a Pepperoni Pizza. It was not good, overcooked and crust too thick and doughy.

                              2. re: awm922

                                Holy hell, I also grew up on Venice as my grandparents lived around the corner on Elmer Ave and I still miss it. We lived in Cheshire at the time and Rossinis is a solid pie as well. Sure the NH stuff is classic, but I miss that Venice pepperoni or just a plain sauce pie. I loved how they would put a shake of parm in each piece of roni......damn I miss that.

                                And the earlier mention of Glenwood dogs......not pizza, but another favorite.

                                -----
                                Glenwood Cafe
                                420 Springfield St, Springfield, MA 01107

                            3. GBpakrfan - I feel your disappointment. I posted a similar reiew a few weeks ago:

                              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/806858

                              "Despite the fact that both crusts were nicely charred, the bottom of both pies were mostly white, with only a few tan spots and extremely soggy."

                              something is clearly aMiss with Modern aPizza

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: joe777cool

                                Not sure where all the Modern hate is coming from. Ate there a few weeks back and it was as top notch as always. The waitstaff is also so much more palatable that the Wooster St. Pepe's. Not an ounce of attitude.

                                We had a sausage pie and a clams casino pie. Bother were excellent and every last crumb was devoured. Much better beer selection at Modern as well.

                                1. re: kwhitehead

                                  I think its clear that both gbpakrfan and I went, well out of our way, to Modern with the clear expectation that we were going to love it. This didnt happen. The pizza just wasnt any good....soggy, limp, and gross! Maybe people are holding on to memories of when Modern was better?

                                  1. re: kwhitehead

                                    When l started on Chowhound, my number one 'best meal' was at Modern. After two very, very sub par pies last fall, it is off my list.

                                2. so my wife and i went to have pizza at modern, and they were closed. so the place next door amato's was open. i guess they alternate on and off days, because amato's was closed the day before according to the posted hours. now i have eaten at all these places, and this place kicked all there butts, and on top of the pizza being killer the food was killer. i know because my then two year old ate both the meatballs we ordered, and most of his pasta, and he is a finicky little bug. thats just my two cents.

                                  1. i agree with Modern being salty, too cheesy, and with a pallid crust

                                    1. I actually prefer BAR to any pizza in New Haven that I've tried so far. Thin, crisp, delicious! :)