Word of Mouth: Pete’s New Haven Style Apizza

From Kliman Online’s “Word of Mouth”

Last year I wrote an article for the magazine about the rise of boutique pizza in the region, and the resulting dust-ups over style and meaning.  

Pete's Apizza wasn't around then, but if it had been, I would have grouped it with such spots as Cafe Pizzaiolo and Moroni and Brother's, prole pizzerias that put a premium on good ingredients but swerve to avoid being tagged with such terms as "boutique" and "artisanal." (The latter group is big, and dominant: 2 Amys, Comet, Pizzeria Paradiso, American Flatbread).  

An order-at-the-counter operation with bare floors, communal tables and the bustling, unpretentious feel of a by-the-slice operation in midtown Manhattan, Pete's bids to create separation from the competition by serving New Haven-style pies. In New Haven, legendary pizzerias Pepe's and Sally's vie for supremacy, each turning out a slightly different take on the local pie. In general, the style consists of a thin, crispy, misshapen crust that rarely flops, minimal saucing, a tightly-knit integration of cheese and toppings, and—the finishing touch—a generous application of olive oil.  

An array of by-the-slice options await on the counter, but you can also order a whole pie, like the gigantic clam pizza. The last good clam pizza I ate was at Lombardi's in New York, and this one is better—crispier, zestier (although the ratio of garlic to clam ought to be reversed). A calzone-shaped pizza called Sorbillo's Original—filled with salumi, ricotta and mozzarella—is just as good. Pete's doesn't champion its sourcing, but I was taken with a remarkably fresh-tasting antipasti platter, topped with smoky curls of grilled carrot, a white bean-and-shrimp salad, and cubed beets with goat cheese (a small salad of quinoa and broccoli rabe was dull).  

A good selection of beers and wines, plus a complement of gelati from Dolcezza, only deepens the appeal. Pete's is a keeper.

-June 10, 2008