What Is New Haven-Style Pizza, And Why Is It Called ‘Apizza’?
Everyone loves pizza. Whether you prefer a thin crust or a thick and cheesy slice, pizza is a universally beloved dish. But have you ever heard of New Haven-style pizza, also known as “apizza”? This unique and mouthwatering creation has a fascinating history and a distinct flavor that sets it apart from other styles of pizza. So, let’s dive into the world of New Haven-style pizza and uncover why it’s called ‘apizza’.
The Origins of New Haven-Style Pizza
New Haven-style pizza traces its roots back to the early 20th century when Italian immigrants settled in New Haven, Connecticut. These immigrants brought with them a rich culinary tradition, including the art of pizza-making. Frank Pepe, an Italian immigrant, is credited as the pioneer of New Haven-style pizza. In 1925, Pepe opened a small bakery in the Wooster Square neighborhood, where he began serving his delicious, coal-fired pizzas.
The Characteristics of New Haven-Style Pizza
What sets New Haven-style pizza apart from other types of pizza is its thin, charred crust and uncomplicated toppings. The dough is made from a few simple ingredients: flour, water, yeast, and salt, resulting in a crust that is both chewy and crispy. The pizza is then topped with a flavorful, homemade tomato sauce and a sprinkling of pecorino Romano cheese.
One of the keys to New Haven-style pizza’s distinctive flavor is the coal-fired oven used in its preparation. This traditional cooking method gives the pizza a slightly smoky and charred flavor, adding depth to every bite. The high heat of the oven ensures that the crust becomes crisp while the toppings remain perfectly cooked.
New Haven’s Pizza Culture
In New Haven, pizza is not just a meal; it’s a way of life. The city boasts a vibrant pizza culture with several renowned pizzerias that have been serving their loyal customers for generations. Alongside Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana, other iconic establishments like Sally’s Apizza and Modern Apizza have become staples of the New Haven food scene.
Waiting in line for a table at one of these pizzerias is not uncommon. Locals and visitors alike are willing to wait for hours to savor a slice of this legendary pizza. The sense of community and tradition surrounding New Haven-style pizza makes it more than just a dish; it’s an experience.
‘Apizza’: A Unique Name
You may be wondering, why is New Haven-style pizza called ‘apizza’? The name may seem like a mistake or a mispronunciation, but it actually has deep roots in the Neapolitan dialect brought over by the Italian immigrants. The word ‘apizza’ is based on the Italian phrase ‘a pienza,’ which translates to ‘in the way’ or ‘as you like it.’
Over time, the Neapolitan dialect pronunciation transformed the phrase into ‘apizza,’ and this unique name stuck among the Italian-American community in New Haven. Today, when you order a delicious slice of New Haven-style pizza, you are actually using a term that has been passed down through generations of pizza lovers and carries a piece of history in every letter.
The Spread of New Haven-Style Pizza
While New Haven-style pizza has deep roots in its hometown, its reputation has spread far and wide. Thanks to word-of-mouth, newspaper articles, and the internet, pizza enthusiasts from all over the world have become aware of this extraordinary pizza style.
As a result, various pizzerias have popped up in different parts of the United States and even internationally, inspired by the flavors and techniques of New Haven-style pizza. These establishments strive to recreate the magic of the original pizzerias in New Haven, attempting to capture the perfect combination of thin crust, robust sauce, and delightful charred flavor.
New Haven-style pizza, known affectionately as ‘apizza,’ is a culinary treasure with a rich history and unique taste. The combination of thin, charred crust, simple yet flavorful toppings, and the traditional coal-fired oven cooking method produces a pizza like no other. Its name, derived from the Neapolitan dialect, adds to its charm and connection to the Italian-American community in New Haven. So, next time you’re in the area, make sure to indulge in a slice of New Haven-style ‘apizza’ and experience a true culinary delight.