Young and Hungry

What Is New Haven-Style Pizza? Hint: It’s Not About Coal.

This past weekend, I drove up to New Haven, Conn., to sample as many slices of pizza as I could before turning into a walking dough ball. Three of the owners from Pete's ApizzaTom Marr, Joel Mehr, and Michael Wilkinson — met me there to provide an insider's view of the region's famous pies.

This conversation took place at Grand Apizza in Cheshire, Conn. Grand is the inspiration behind the New Haven-style pizzas served at Pete's. In the video, Grand owner Rick Nuzzo (center) talks with Mehr (left) and Marr (right) about the defining characteristics of New Haven pizza.

The pizza geek out starts as soon as you press the start button.

  • dave p.

    i REALLY hope you hit the big three while you were in NH: Pepe's, Modern, and Bar. Pepe's has the best red-mozz pie in NH by far (IMHO), Bar has a mashed-potato pizza that makes me teary-eyed remembering it, and Modern pulls up the rear of the top three with a solid all-around pizza. Growing up in CT, I always prided myself in knowing we had the best pizza in the USA, if nothing else, to brag about. Nothing in NYC or Chicago comes close.

  • LB

    48 hours eating pizza in New Haven - it does not get any better than that! Pete's Apizza is by far the closest thing we have to good pizza in the area! If only Pepe's would open a satellite location. sigh.

  • BRC

    Coal IS still used on New Haven-style pizza -- particularly at Little Rendezvous Pizza in my mom's hometown, Meriden, CT.

    I've lived (and had pizza) around the world, and for my money, Little Rendezvous makes some of the best pizza anywhere. They use a coal-fired oven originally built in 1888, and used for pizza since 1938.

    They use the flat crust, minimize use of sauce so you're not squirting sauce out underneath the cheese when you bite down, use a crumb sausage that is to die for -- if you live in the tri-state area, and you're a pizza fan, you owe yourself a visit to Little Rendezvous -- check it out at

    I'm not a shill, just a fan.

  • creativemeat

    The guy mentioned no rise pizza dough for ny style. He didnt mention anything about no knead. I think Co.'s pizza in nyc is no knead dough. Amazing pies there.

  • cnote

    PePe's,Sallys.The Spot and Modern Pizza are the best pizza you can find anywhwere. There is no comparison with any pizza I know of.

  • breadbunny

    For two people that OWN pizzerias, Mehr & Nuzzo at the very minimum have a lack of awareness to try and speak on pizza in a clear, concise manner that they average reader could glean something from.

    Mehr's shakey description of the NY pizza making process has hits and misses, but also dives into pure speculation. Nuzzo sounds like a complete balloon head that may understand ONE style of pizza, back (at least) sounds like he lacks any volume of knowledge on the pizza making process on a deeper level.

    And "The difference is it's, apizza"....that does not explain much....and is merely an opinion besides.Not to mention Grande and Polly-O are anything but high quality products.

    Good lord. --Toby

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  • KaptainSteve

    Let's get this straight, there is not a big THREE but a big TWO in New Haven. There is Pepe's and Sally's. That's it. They set the standard, the rest are at another level whether they be Modern, Grand, Abates, or whomever, it don't matter, because Sally's and Pepe's do it the right way all the way through w/out cutting corners down to the coal ovens (gas, wood, electric is not the same) and the style of dough they make. If you see someone tossing dough or rolling it with a pin, the dough is not the same. Enuff' said.

  • Rodi

    Kaptain Steve... you are right... but I think as of late Pepes has changed their dough... it is now tasteless, it used to be slightly thicker than Sallys, but it had a lot of sour dough taste... no more...

    I recently had a Sallys pie with my wife and the wait was excruciating... but it was worth it... waiting in a cold room with poor service... but it was worth it. it was way better, I mean light years better than Pepes (and Pepe's uses better toppings!)