Why New Haven Style Will Always Have A-pizza My Heart
Whether you're having the best day of your life, or the worst, pizza is always a good call. It's warm, crisp, and filling in a satisfying way that not many other foods can achieve. I've always loved pizza, and growing up in Connecticut, I never realized how good I had it with our special New Haven style pizza.
When I moved down to Georgia for school, I knew that I wouldn't have top notch pizza within walking distance from myself, but that was a sacrifice I was willing to accept. The first time I visited home after three months away at school, I devoured about half of a pizza. The all familiar cheesy, crispy, and slightly charred flavor entered my mouth and my heart, and I realized that pizza was a necessary staple in my emotional health.
This article is dedicated to my childhood years of eating pizza as well to all those individuals who have never experienced pizza the way I have, the best way - New Haven style. But first, lets dive into the more widely known pies.
I admittedly have not traveled to Chicago yet in order to try the famed deep dish pizza, but upon research and hearing first-hand accounts, have come to realize that Chicago style pizza is really a class of its own. More pie than pizza, this cheese-filled dish takes away any inherent childhood friendly competition about who can eat the most slices of pizza.
It is traditionally made with a deep crust in a cylindrical pie-like dish that ranges from medium to thin. Due to its deep nature, the toppings must be placed in reverse order so that the cheese does not burn. This cheese is the first ingredient to smother the crust, which is then topped by meats or veggies, followed by sauces. It is baked for much longer than the rest of the nation's pizzas, due to its structure.
Chicago style pizza is very much ooey, gooey good. It is the epitome of cheesy and I'm sure offers a great deal of comfort, if not a stomach ache. While on my bucket list to try, I'm not sure Chicago deep dish qualifies as pizza enough to be compared to its national counterparts.
New York Style
New York Style pizza has a thick and crisp crust along the edge, which becomes soft, thin, and pliable as you travel further into the center. This crust allows for many toppings and typically a requirement to partially fold over the piece of pizza in order to eat it and maintain all the juices.
The first pizza shop was opened in New York by an immigrant pizza maker from Naples, Italy in the early 20th century. The standard for these pizzas is full-fat mozzarella cheese on them, and they are most commonly found in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut.
I don't have anything against New York Style pizza. It is very good, I eat it often, and I enjoy it. However, that does not mean it's the best. Most people know about New York Style, and almost everyone appreciates it. However, its close neighbor New Haven style overcomes some of its downfalls and should be experienced as well.
New Haven Style
This pizza first originated in New Haven, Connecticut in the early 20th century at The Original Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana, of which there are now several locations across the state.
It is characterized by a thin-crust with a crispy outside and chewier inside. Baked in coal ovens, these pizzas add a traditional and distinctive char to the crust with no uniform shape. They are never over-sauced, over-topped, or over-cheesed. The beauty of this pizza is their crisp simplicity. As far as toppings go, you can add anything you want but it is often better to leave them as simple as possible. Even mozzarella cheese is considered an additional topping in the most traditional New Haven style.
Finding true New Haven style pizza far outside of its birthplace is rare, and for a reason. Nick Laudano, owner of two New Haven-style pizzerias in Florida stated "If you are not well-versed in New Haven-style pizza, leave it alone." These pizzas are a masterpiece, but must be done correctly if they are going to be done at all.
My advice? If you're anywhere near a New Haven-style pizza, eat all of it. It delivers the perfect combination of crunch, cheese, and satisfaction while skipping the doughy and oily downfalls of other styles. It's exactly what pizza is meant to be.