New Haven Pizza Outside of New Haven?

When the topic of cities known for their unique pizza styles comes up, New York, Chicago, and Detroit often come to mind.  What do you think of when you hear New Haven?  Unless you are from somewhere around New Haven, Ct., pizza doesn’t typically come to mind.  But if you are from New Haven, things are quite different.  Residents there are as passionate about their pizza as any and have been die-hard fans of their local pies for almost 100 years. 

But it is just recently that New Haven is starting to gain some national recognition.  The first ever New Haven Pizza Workshop was held last October at the Pizza and Pasta Expo in Atlantic City.  The convention where pizzeria owners from all over the US go to learn about the latest pizza trends and take back ideas for their own shops.  The workshop was so popular that it is being repeated at the International Pizza Expo in Las Vegas this spring, this time for an international audience. The NY Times published a recent article on the emergence of the New Haven style, “Pizza in New Haven” (C. Caplan) was written a few years ago, you can go on New Haven pizza tasting tours,  learn how to make New Haven style pizza in New Haven,  and Pepe’s , perhaps the most famous of the original New Haven pizzerias, has opened 13 additional pizzerias across the East Coast in Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New York, Maryland, Virginia, and Florida.   

So what is the New Haven style… and why is it so good? 

New Haven-style pizza, also known as "apizza" (pronounced "ah-beets"), is a unique pizza characterized by its thin, chewy crust, and while somewhat similar to New York style, it is thinner, crispier, cooked longer, and has a charred crust. Traditional New Haven pies place emphasis on the tomato sauce which is uncooked and made from highly quality Italian plum tomatoes, often hand crushed with no added puree or juice, some oregano, and salt.  That’s it.  It is thick and fresh tasting. They also use much less mozzarella than other styles.   If you are looking for gobs of melted mozzarella on top, Abeetz is not for you.  Another hallmark of New Haven-style pizza is its liberal use of high-quality toppings.  Pecorino – Romano cheese is often, and generously, applied to the pies as well as lots of high quality Italian olive oil, and garlic.  

 As for the crust, unlike a puffy, high rise, cornicione (the crust on outer rim of a pizza), the New Haven crust is fairly flat, crispy, and somewhat chewy. The beauty of this pizza is the combination of the sauce, the dough, and the simple, high quality toppings they put on it.   It has retained more of an old world style – not a lot of complexity here,  just a few simple, fresh, high quality ingredients that come together perfectly.  

 One of the most famous variations of New Haven-style pizza is the white clam pie, topped with fresh clams, garlic, olive oil, oregano, and grated cheese.  Of course, New Haven pizza can be ordered with the usual toppings like pepperoni, mushroom, sausage, etc., as well as some more unusual native toppings, like mashed potatoes, but that’s for another blog.  In my mind though, there are three traditional pies  which made New Haven famous. 

The classic “Tomato pie” with its beautiful tomato sauce, liberal use of garlic and  oregano, and lots freshly grated Pecorino-Romano cheese sprinkled generously on top. 

​One variation which I have to mention is the Tomato Pie with Anchovies.  Just as it sounds… fresh tomato sauce, garlic, anchovies, olive oil, and Pecorino – Romano.  If you like anchovies, this will be one of the best anchovy pizzas you’ll try, a perfect balancing act of salty, savory, and sweetness. 

The classic “Tomato and Cheese” with its sauce and unique layering of mozzarella.​  Same sauce as the Tomato pie, oregano, olive oil, but topped with deli sliced, very thin mozzarella. When it bakes, the tomato sauce boils up, and through, the thin mozzarella slices and creates a distinctive topping, a pure fusion of the tomato and cheese. 

The classic “Clam pie”.  Most popular is the ‘white’ version originated by Pepe’s in the 1930’s. Seems like an unlikely main ingredient but if you like clams, this pie is to die for.  Clams, lots of them, olive oil, garlic, Pecorino-Romano, and a little oregano, all sitting on a wonderful, well cooked, crispy, chewy crust.   

Overall, New Haven-style pizza is celebrated for its simplicity, quality ingredients, and distinctive flavor profile, making it a beloved regional specialty and a must-try for pizza enthusiasts. I have a link below to one of my favorite New Haven pies, Tomato and Cheese, made in the original style of Frank Pepe.  It is an easy pizza to make.  You’ll need to ferment the dough for a day or two, but once you are ready to make the pizza, it all happens pretty quickly with minimal topping preparation.  

Try it out and let me know what you think.  I am guessing it will become one of your personal favorites too. Comment below and let me know if you want to see other New Haven recipes as well. 

“Fare ottima pizza” (make great pizza) 




New Haven Style Tomato and Mozzarella Recipe

New Haven Style Pizza Dough Recipe
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