New Haven, CT: Modern Apizza Earned its “A”

There is always time for a trip to New Haven when I am on the east coast. I lived in this city for just over three years and there are a lot of things I miss about it. Pizza is one of those things and it’s at the top of the list.

The pizza in New Haven is a little like traditional New York style pie: thin crust but with more crunch and cornmeal. The most famous ovens in New Haven are wood- or coal-fired brick oven kilns of epic proportions. This gives the pizza a blackened crust. “No, your pizza is not burnt. You’re in New Haven, and that’sa theway they do ‘apizza’ around here.” Some people say Frank Pepe’s or Sally’s is the best, but I don’t agree. A few years ago, I tried Frank’s again and as usual it was not great and it took way to long to get it. I was so unhappy with it I didn’t even write about it.

This time, our trip to New Haven was two-fold: to catch up with our old Portland friends who’d moved to Connecticut a few years ago, and to bring Todd to my favorite New Haven pizza joint, Modern Apizza. Modern was one of the closest pizza options to where I lived and it happened to be my favorite, so I ate there a lot over the years. Located on State St. since 1934, this is one of the area’s oldest and most definitely the best in my book. Playboy magazine says so, too! Modern was again on Playboy’s top ten pizza list.

A lot has changed at Modern in the past eight years. The restaurant now has a front entrance that allows people to chill out while they wait for a table without disturbing the eating crowd. They kept their very successful takeout window but upgraded the entire decor. It looked great and the servers didn’t just forget about us while we sat in the waiting area. As soon as our party was all there, they came to get us for our table.

We ordered a couple of pitchers of soda and two pizzas. One was covered in clams and white sauce, the other in cured meat. The first bite really took me back. I could close my eyes and transport myself back in time over eight years ago, my Vespa parked out front, and a crowd of people hanging over my shoulder wishing they could have my seat or at least a bite of my slice. It was a bit of a relief to find I was still in 2012 with my west coast friends but enjoying that same Modern Apizza pie.

Todd and I checked in on Facebook and a friend commented that the people on the east coast didn’t know how to spell “pizza”. My reply was simple. Modern “Apizza” had earned its “A”. The slices are almost always haphazardly cut, the pizza piping hot, dripping with grease from the cured meats and fresh mozzarella, and perfectly crisp for folding and eating. It really is one of those local foods and spots you must seek out when you get to New Haven, Connecticut.

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