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Other Good Pizza In New Haven

Whenever I have to go up to Boston, I like stopping in New Haven to have some of their yummy pizza. So far, I've had Frank Pepe's, Bar, Modern and Sally's. In terms of my preferences, I'd probably rate Pepe's and Bar equally, tho because there is a Pepe's in Yonkers, NY, I'd probably give Bar a slight edge - only because I can get Pepe's without having to drive all the way to New Haven, thus making Bar more coveted. Modern is slightly below the two aforementioned joints and Sally's, well, based on my first experience there, they don't even factor in. However, the guy sitting behind us at Sally's loved his pizza and said that Sally's is the best. I'm sure there is good pizza on their menu, we just didn't order it that time around.

Anyways, in terms of trying out new places in New Haven for pizza, what else is good? I've been looking a bit on Yelp and places that seem to be well reviewed are Da Legna, Grand, Zuppardi, Costa, Mike's and Avellino's.

Just wondering if any of those are really any good, or if there are others I should look into?

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  1. I think you have New Haven pretty well covered. There are a number of options in East and West Haven off I-95, plus Hamden off the Whitney Ave. and Dixwell Ave. exits on the Wilbur Cross Parkway to I-91 then 84 to the Mass Pike. Large Italian populations in all 3 towns.

    1. Big fan of Zuppardi's sausage pizza. Understand they have a great fresh-shucked clam pie also but clams not my thing.

      1. Try GG's in Milford. Very thin crust baked in a wood fired oven (imported from Italy - the same oven that Mario Battali uses!) and some very creative pizzas. Additionally, really good salads, a wide variety of beers and a nice wine list. Definitely worth checking out!

        3 Replies
        1. re: lsnhc

          YES! Finally got here--had wanted to try GG's for the longest time. Their arancini are OUTSTANDING. I enthusiastically second your recommendation on their pies. Very friendly service, too. They make their own root beer--good stuff!

          1. re: kattyeyes

            If they make their own root beer, say no more!

            1. re: kattyeyes

              Having tried Da Legna in New Haven, their pizza is superior to GG's, tho GG' is still quite nice.

          2. Zuppardi's, yes...That's waste haven...so If you're willing to consider the "greater" New Haven area, Roseland in Derby, Olde World in Hamden and Tolli's in East Haven get high marks in my book

            2 Replies
            1. re: BiscuitBoy

              BB, agree with you liost PLUS Ernie's on Whalley Ave in the Westville section of New Haven.

            2. I love Pepe's clam pie as much as anyone can but last night as I was driving through New Haven at about 7, the lines were too long for the time we had available so I decided to finally try Zuppardi's. It was excellent. Not destination great but you would be pretty lucky to have this as your local joint. Regular with roasted red peppers, and a clam and bacon, both small. Toppings were good though a little to much garlic on the clam but what struck me was how good the crust was. Very glad to be able to walk in and grab a booth and be served promptly on a Saturday night at prime time.

              7 Replies
              1. re: stuartlafonda

                This thread has long since died, but I finally tried Zuppardi's and wanted to chime in. I went there with my girlfriend on January 2, en route to Boston, before the storm got too bad. We arrived at 11am, just as they opened and were initially the only ones there, tho more people did come in.

                After some discussion with the staff about what to order - they did recommend the sausage and meatball pies, as they make their own fennel sausage and meatballs - we opted for a large clam pie, which was the plan from the get go. If you do order the clam pie, make sure you specify fresh clams, as they do have a version with canned clams. Fresh is more expensive, but tastes much better. One last detail about our order - we got 25% of the pie with mozzarella.

                It took the pizza a pretty long time to come, but when it finally did arrive, it was well worth the wait. It looked and smelled delicious. They said the long wait was because they shuck each clam freshly. I asked how many clams were on the pie and was told 5 dozen.

                Taste-wise, the mix of clams and spices was excellent. The section with mozzarella tasted just as good as the section without. The crust was firm and crisp as well. The section with no mozzarella, when held horizontally with no support from underneath, stood firmly without bending. The section with mozzarella did bend, but no big deal there.

                Zuppardi's just uses a regular pizza oven - no coal, wood or anything else fancy, but the pizza taste great.

                The price, including tax and tip, ended up being $45, which was kind of pricy. However, the price for the large clam pie on the menu was not what they charged us. They actually charged us a few dollars less than the marked price, so we caught a small break there. Being that Zuppardi's charges $1 per raw clam on the half shell, $45 for a pizza with 60 clams isn't a bad deal at all.

                As other reviewers have said, West Haven is Waste Haven and not destination great, but you would be lucky to have this as your local joint.

                1. re: willscarlett

                  This may sound like a silly question, but was 60 clams "excessive"? It sounds like an awful lot of clams (and I guess I made a pun).

                  1. re: DGresh

                    I didn't count the exact number of clams on the pizza, but if 60 clams were on that pizza, it wasn't excessive. The clams are also served whole and not chopped.

                    1. re: DGresh

                      If the large pie was cut in 12 slices (typical in New Haven area) 5 clams per slice is not excessive (especially when one doesn't know the size of the clams)

                      1. re: bagelman01

                        I think Zuppardi's large pie was 16", tho I could be wrong. Here are some photos.

                        1. re: willscarlett

                          Oh my, that looks nice and clammy. Can I be nosey and ask the price? The Large clam pie at Pepe's is $26.25 .

                          1. re: Veggo

                            Surely! From what I remember, the price on the menu said $39, but when the bill came, they only charged us $36. Once tax and tip was factored in, Zuppardi's large clam pie cost $45.

                            That's certainly the most expensive clam pie I've ever had, but if you judge it by the fact that Zuppardi's charges $1 per raw clam on the half shell and this pie contained 60 clams, plus all the other ingredients, it's not a bad deal.

                2. Da Legne. Also check out kitchen zinc

                  1. One more vote for Zuppardi's.

                    And I couldn't agree more about Sally's. I went there a couple months ago. The crust was passable, but it was the worst tomato sauce I've ever had. Starchy and tasteless- zero vibrancy. Also, the quantity of bench flour stuck to the bottom of two of our four pies was outrageous. I work with pizza for a living and I'd have a hard time getting that much bench flour on a pizza. In parts, the flour was coming off in flakes.

                    The potato pie was very good, but nothing could redeem the egregiousness of the sauce and bench flour. I give coal oven places a lot of leeway when it comes to char and crust characteristics because of the fickleness of the oven, but you can't blame inedible sauce on the oven.

                    You don't get to be a legendary pizzeria without putting out great pizza, so I have no doubt that, at one time, Sally's was truly great, but, from the pizza I had, I feel that they're coasting on their laurels.

                    Someone needs to take some these over the top Sally's fans and have them do a double blind taste test between Sally's and Pepe's. Many will recognize Sally's and automatically choose them, but I think quite a few will not, go strictly by merit and choose Pepe's. Pepe's has it's own issues (mostly oven based inconsistency), but, side by side with Sally's, there's no competition.

                    Btw, there's considerable precedent for legendary places to eventually fall by the wayside. Lombardi's, America's first pizzeria and a NY institution, hasn't put out a good pie in years. Grimaldi's, another hugely famous NY pizzeria, is just as much of a joke.

                    The bigger they are, the harder they fall.

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: scott123

                      Scott, just so you know, Lombardi's is not America's first pizzaria or a New York institution. First, the original Lombardi's was located across the street and down the block. It was a restaurant and pizzaria. It closed. Ten years later, a man bought the name from the family and opened up in a long closed bakery that had a coal oven. The idea that this is America's or New York's first pizzaria is a scam, and a profitable one for the owners. Second, it is not a New York institution. For many years now it has been a tourist trap. I do not know any New Yorker who eats there now or ever did on a regular basis. Finally, and most importantly, the pizza is mediocre at best. I agree with your comment that they have not put out a good pie in years. Dried out and hard crust, insipid sauce. Stay away, spread the truth, don't unintentionallyspread their lies.

                      1. re: stuartlafonda

                        I would have to generally disagree about Lombardi's. I've had their white clam and margherita pies and with one exception, they have been excellent. The one exception was my most recent visit when I had the white clam pie and something was off about it. It definitely wasn't as good as the other times.

                        I'm from New Jersey and live less than an hour outside of NYC, so I'm not sure if that qualifies me as a tourist, but I do go there on occasion, which means every few months, probably 4-5 times total so far. I do like Pepe's better than Lombardi's tho.

                        Speaking of pizza scams, how about the people running Patsy's and also Grimaldi's? Both places just ride the coattails of the original owner's name and aren't run by the family any more. I only had Patsy's once, around 7 years ago, but I've been to Grimaldi's in Brooklyn and both Hoboken locations. It's average at best.

                        For a great pie tho, check out Juliana's. It's located where Grimaldi's used to be and is once again run by the Grimaldi family.

                        1. re: willscarlett

                          I agree about Patsy's/Grimaldi's, they are like Ray's, everywhere. But, I don't think anyone goes to a Patsy's and thinks they are eating at "the original Patsy's" and none of them have a brass plaque on the wall proclaiming a falsehood. The Patsy's on 117 is my favoriye slice in NYC and I agree that Juiliana's is excellent. Next trip through Souther Ct i need to try the hot oil pie at Colony, by all reports it sounds like something I would like. Have you been there?

                          1. re: stuartlafonda

                            I have not been to Colony and have never heard of a hot oil pie. I am intrigued tho - what is it?

                              1. re: willscarlett

                                I am not sure if Colony Grill is as good as it use to be, but the orignal in Stamford was tasty. They have one size and the crust is interesting. The hot oil and stingers is spicy. If you add hot oil, they pour on spicy olive oil before serving.

                            1. re: willscarlett

                              I agree with you about Zuppardi's. Never been a fan of Pepe's. If you only went to Grimaldi's 7 years ago, you never experienced it when Patsy owned it. I went first in the '90s when it was called Patsy's. Then the name was changed to Grimaldi's. I asked Patsy what happened and I heard the whole sordid story. I stopped going after he sold the place and it got packed with tourists. No more tables of wise guys showing up. I tried Juliana's soon after it opened. I think I might have written up the first CH post about it. Love, love the place. Feels so good to walk into it with that stupid line still forming in front of Grimaldi's.

                          1. Da Legna on state st new haven.... unbelievable artisan style pizza ( baked potato was the best) and a fantastic tuna tartare app too!!!

                            1. Da Legna++
                              Excellent pizza, creative menu.
                              Parking can be difficult and noise level can be high but def worth it for the pizza!

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: ElsieB

                                You speak the truth, as did danalynnforte before you. I wouldn't have known of Da Legna otherwise, so thank you. Conveniently near Modern, so just keep walking. :)

                                1. re: kattyeyes

                                  When we go to da legna we are amazed to see lines at modern???? do those people in line at modern not notice da legna? So easy to find with the turquoise colored building - could almost be real copper siding in evening light. Certainly a step up from a cafeteria vibe tho I would be glad to see da legna get quieter and more comfy...but then, I am older:)

                                  1. re: ElsieB

                                    I can only guess the people in line at Modern have no idea what they're missing. And that's OK with me, because a) who am I to twist their arms and b) we walked right in and were seated and served right away. I feel like we're in on a fantastic little secret, don't you? :)

                                    But I suspect the word is out because most of the other tables were either occupied or had a "reserved" sign on them.

                                    1. re: kattyeyes

                                      i live nearby and always go to modern. just like clicking on the right square in minesweeper, youve opened up a new world for me. I'll give it a shot.

                              2. The Road to the 38 On EATER just published reviews/pictures on New Haven's supposed top 5 Apizza parlors.


                                My 60 year favorite: Sally's is ranked number ONE

                                I have no problem with Pepe's at #2, disagree with Zuppardi's in West Haven as number 3. Yes they do have fresh shucked clams available for a $23 apizza, but their dough is way to thick to be New Haven Apizza.

                                #4 Modern on State Street....Modern is too inconsistent (many on line posts about this lately) and if you are leaving Wooster Street there are a number of New Haven Apizza places that are IMHO better such as Ernie's on Whalley Avenue in upper Westville.

                                #5 Bar--Mashed Potato Apizza? Yea the drunks have been eating this in this micropub since 1996. Trendy for Yalies, visitors and 20 somethings partying downtown, but one of the best in New Haven? I think not.

                                1. Da Legna is AWESOME! Great artisan wood fired pizzas, gluten free, and fabulous small plate menu.

                                  7 Replies
                                  1. re: dga0126

                                    I would put this place in the trendy potato category as well...edamame, and those prices! Good for the tourists

                                    1. re: BiscuitBoy

                                      Putting da legna in the 'trendy potato category' and 'good for tourists' seems very dismissive of a place that is doing creative pies and offering interesting small plates for other choices. I prefer the da legna pies to Pepes, Modern or Sally's which are very oily to my tastes. I think da legnas pies are more sophisticated and better quality that the aforementioned 'famous' places in town.

                                      1. re: ElsieB

                                        If that lenga place lasts half as long, as say, Modern, maybe I can take off the trendy label. When I'm in the mood for pizza, I don't want some "creative" "sophistcated" $20 thinG...I want pizza. Goat cheese? Burrata? No Bueno

                                        1. re: BiscuitBoy

                                          I agree on the Trendy comments. Especially when I look at their website and they have a link to an article in CT Magazine with praise for our chef...
                                          Follow the link and there's one line from a restaurant chef (in a long list) of where they like to eat in 2011 and it references the chef working out on the east shore not in New Haven. Not a single accolade for da Legna. Also a comment in the New Haven Independent story on Delaney burning Down (I started a thread this week referencing da legna having a fire a couple of years ago....
                                          "posted by: Lisa on August 26, 2014 12:14pm

                                          When the fire happened on State St a couple years ago (DaLegnas) the neighbors rallied and raised money, and organized donations of clothing and furniture for the displaced tenants. They even found an apartment for one family, and got a moving company (@ Young Studs I believe) to donate the moving truck and movers, People were very generous. However, someone needs to step up and be the organizer. That is the hardest part - organizing it."

                                          I've asked my New Haven foodie friends and not one has tried da legna.

                                    2. re: dga0126

                                      YES, AWESOME! Yes, excellent wood fired pies (thus "da legna"), I have no need for gluten free, but David Foster in the kitchen alone is and was worth the trip for this kat.

                                      Corn fritter salad to start. Didn't even ask to have them split it; when we mentioned we'd share, each portion came on its own plate. NICE. And better still, what a freakin' excellent dish--hot, crispy corn fritters atop salad greens dressed with raspberry vinaigrette and crumbled Parmesan crisps. Delightful.

                                      Vongole casino pizza--more awesomeness coming right up. Freshly shucked clams (not chewy as they can be when they're not fresh), peppers, onions, BACON. Fanfreakin'tastic!

                                      My only bitches--and NOT about the food or service, which were stellar:
                                      Parking is tough (you New Haveners know this already).
                                      It's loud in there (no great shakes, Mondo in M'town is loud, too).
                                      The water tasted chlorinated and gross (as it does in most of M'town). Easily remedied by buying a glass of wine. CHEERS!

                                      This place deserves to do well. Was plenty busy while we were there tonight (yeah, even busy on a Wednesday, good for them). With the magic of David Foster shining through in the kitchen, I will find excuses to get back there more frequently.

                                      Meantime, here's a cool video of the man himself making basil gnocchi:

                                      ROCK ON, David! Rock on, Da Legna! You are among my top pizza picks in the state of Connecticut.

                                        1. re: kattyeyes

                                          Looks like a good pizza for sure. Will try this place next I'm passing through.

                                      1. Has anyone tried the Grimaldi outpost in Woodbridge?

                                        10 Replies
                                        1. re: BiscuitBoy

                                          we were there during the soft opening. May be coal fired brick oven, but NOT New Haven Style.

                                          The dough is relatively thin, but stiff and a bit fry.
                                          Sauce is good, would ask for extra next time.
                                          They use slices of fresh mozzarella, not shredded yellow mozzarella like most pizza places.

                                          We had a mozzarella with eggplant. The eggplant is roasted, not breaded and fried. I loved the eggplant, Mrs. B prefers the traditional breaded and fried.

                                          Also has a New Haven style pie with just sauce and grated cheese (my standard to judge apizza places. Ordinary at best.

                                          Very overpriced, a one item small was $12.

                                          Soda is overpriced, and the pitcher is a ripoff. It doesn't fill 3 glasses and they don't fill it all the way, plus they put ice in the pitcher. Sent it back and told waiter to bring glasses with ice and a full pitcher of soda, no ice.

                                          Unless someone else in our party requests Grimaldi's we won't return. Too many better apizza places in New Haven area to waste money, tome and calories here.

                                          1. re: bagelman01

                                            Who is claiming that Grimaldi's is New Haven style?

                                            1. re: ajh05004

                                              Hopefully Giordano's does not open in NH. That would lead to interesting "it ain't apizza" posts...it has two crusts, it has cheese, it is thick, it is baked for 15 minutes, it is not baked in a coalfired oven...

                                              Me, I am glad to have different pizzas and apizzas to choose from...sometimes you feel like a nut sometimes a Milky Way.

                                              1. re: ajh05004

                                                NO ONE, including me. I said is is NOT New Haven Style.

                                                Our waiter explaining the new restaurant said to us that they used a coal fired brick oven like they do at Pepe's and Sally's.
                                                The pizza was not New Haven Style
                                                and it truly wasn't NY style either, a classic NY pie slice can be easily folded in half Crust to tip and inserted in the mouth to eat. Grimaldi's crust was far to stiff and dry to fold.

                                                1. re: bagelman01

                                                  That was my point. Nobody is claiming that it's New Haven style, but you felt the need to dramatically declare it.

                                                  1. re: ajh05004

                                                    #1 I referenced a New Haven Style pie in terms that it has just sauce and grated cheese.

                                                    Mozzarella is an additional topping in the traditional New Haven Apizza places on Wooster Street

                                                    #2 the waiter referenced Pepe's and Sally's when talking about Grimaldi's oven

                                              2. re: bagelman01

                                                My Dad picked up a plain pie (sauce, grated cheese) and was meh about it

                                                1. re: bagelman01

                                                  I'd say stay away from Grimaldi's in general. The first time I went, which was in Hoboken, NJ, I thought their pizza was pretty good. However, when I went to their other Hoboken location, it was just ok. I then went to their new Brooklyn location and things were the same. Not bad, but not great. Kind of like Jersey pizza. Towards the end of eating our large, we found a large hair in it. They brought us another small pie for free.

                                                  1. re: willscarlett

                                                    My preference in apizza is just sauce and grated pecorino romano cheese...a true New Haven style pie.
                                                    I will eat Mozzarella, but don't like the inferior shredded cheese mix being used my many places.
                                                    Southern CT has many Greek owned pizza places that bake their pies in round pans. The dough is stretched in the pans, sauce added and put on racks in the walk in for up to three days before it might be dressed and baked.
                                                    Typically they use a cheese mix that has one pound sharp cheddar for each 5 pounds mozzarella. I was taught this when I worked for one 40 years ago. The cheddar is added to prevent cheese burning in the oven.

                                                    That's why the one thing I do like at Grimadi's is the use of fresh mozzarella on the pizza, not the processed stuff.

                                                    That's still not enough reason for me to choose to return, but I won't reject Grimaldi's if others in the party want to go there.

                                                    1. re: willscarlett

                                                      Will, what about the pie was "kind of like Jersey pizza", the hair?