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Connecticut’s Fabulous Pizza Scene

pepe pizza

When I lived in New York, I thought New York pizza was unmatchable. Then I moved to Connecticut full time (I had spent summers here as a child) and discovered a whole new world of pizzas.

Connecticut pizza comes in a few varieties. There are the coal-fired brick oven pies of New Haven with their crisp crusts and charred spots that add a whole new dimension. There are the ultra-thin crusts, similar to New York pizza but often less greasy. And there are the Greek-style pies with their doughy crusts that are so unlike the others that they need their own category.

Last year, while on a business trip in Seattle, one of the other folks on the trip mentioned a pizza place in Connecticut that they were familiar with and something about it being the best in Connecticut.

I had to correct her.

Pizza in Connecticut is somewhat of a phenomenon. There are so many great pizza places, and everyone has a favorite — but it’s more than that. It’s like taking sides in a never-ending pizza battle. And it’s not just us Connecticut people noticing these great pizza joints — many are nationally ranked as the top pizza places in the country.

Pepe's Original Tomato Pie
Pepe’s Original Tomato Pie

The biggest players are the New Haven pizza places. Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana (affectionately known as Pepe’s) and Sally’s Apizza are the most talked about, most known and most debated (as to which is best, of course). Both serve coal-fired brick oven pizzas and were started by relatives. There’s also Modern Apizza, which has its own devoted following as well.

At Pepe’s, the thin crust comes out crisp with little black bits of char. Their signature white clam pizza is loaded with fresh clams, olive oil, garlic, oregano and grated cheese — a perfect pie for eating so near the Connecticut shoreline. But most often, my family orders the Original Tomato Pie, which comes with sauce and grated parmesan. You can also order it with mozzarella. Their pepperoni pizza, something I am generally not fond of, is worth trying. It’s kind of amazing.

I haven’t tried Sally’s or Modern, but they are on my list of must-tries this summer.

One of my favorite pies comes from outside New Haven. Carminuccio’s is a pizza place located in Newtown, Connecticut. Their pizza has an ultra-thin crust that holds their signature sweet-savory sauce and just enough mozzarella to coat without overdoing it. My favorite pie there is the clams casino pie, which has clams, bacon, onions and more. It’s a must-order whenever my friends and I go.

Still, there are other pies that I keep hearing out like the hot oil pie at Colony Grill in Stamford, which was named one of the 8 Best Pizzas in Connecticut by Slice. It’s topped with a chile pepper-infused hot oil that’s supposed to be amazing. Roseland Apizza in Derby, Connecticut also made that list with their famously rich tomato sauce.

As for the Greek-style pizza, Newtown Pizza Palace is a favorite. Famous Pizza in Bethel, Connecticut makes a great Greek-style pie too. Both feature addictive marinara sauces and a good layer of mozzarella cheese. But be warned, the Greek style can be a little oily.

I’m undoubtedly missing some fabulous pizza places here in Connecticut.

Do you have a favorite? What is it?


Saturday 18th of May 2013

I guess living my entire life in CT, you really take for granted how amazing it is. And the pizza is to die for. I certainly miss the crust and the blacked parts of the pizza. I now live in south NJ. Let me tell you, nothing compares to CT pizza. I've been here 2 years, haven't found a fantastic place yet. They're big on commercial pizza, like Papa Johns and such. Not sure NJ knows what crust or sauce is!!

Richard Thompson

Thursday 2nd of May 2013

I think Connecticut pizza is something people overlook so often! They always talk about New York style and Chicago deep dish, but clearly they've never had pizza from Connecticut. Thanks for sharing, my personal favorite is going to have to be the original tomato pie for sure. Thanks for sharing!


Saturday 17th of November 2012

The Story left out a few very important pizza place's in Connecticut Here in Greenwich are two institution's that have been in business for over 30 years

the Bruce Park Grill and Glenville Pizza

both very worthy of a trek


Friday 16th of November 2012

Frank Pepe's and Modern are great! I've just got to mention two lesser-known restaurants in the same area that I actually prefer even to Pepe's and Modern: Aniello's and Minervini's, both of which are in East Haven and actually across the street from each other. Fantastic, colossal, and surprisingly inexpensive pies made by wonderfully friendly staff at family-owned pizzerias. And both stock Foxon Park sodas, locally-made all natural sodas that are so amazingly good that they have effectively ruined Pepsi and Coke products for me. When I lived in the New Haven area I used to order from Minerini's or Aniello's at least once a week!

Sarah W. Caron

Friday 16th of November 2012

LOVE Foxon Park sodas!!

Dan R

Tuesday 13th of November 2012

There was a time when Waterbury had three of the best pizza restaurants ever - Bacco's, Gino's, and Dominic's. Sadly, all three are under new ownership and I could no longer vouch for any of them. A Bacco's pizza was near perfect and I would put it up against Pepe's any day. I heard it's Indian owned now so I imagine it's not going to be as good as it was when the Bacco family owned the place.