Norwalk hasn’t really been a friend to the Pizza Tour; it’s given us gross crackery pies, puffy sauce-laden monstrosities, and 70s era garbage, that have made it very difficult to justify coming back into town. According to Jane and Michael Stern of Gourmet Magazine, Letizia’s is the light at the end of the tunnel, boasting three generations of pizza prowess dating back to 1937 that crank out pies that Gourmet mentions in the same breath as New Haven’s big boys. The Sterns also call Colony Grill’s pie “about a foot-and-a-half in diameter” and “excellent,” so we’re out to see if they really know what the hell they’re talking about with all of the Letizia’s gushing.
Establishment. Letizia’s is pretty devoid of bells and whistles, with an interior consisting of no more than a few small tables, a counter, and some Snapple coolers for a bare bones, purely utilitarian look helped along by the flour footprint-kissed industrial carpeting. Still, plastered along the walls are plenty of horn-tooting newspaper articles and awards that set the bar pretty high for a restaurant with such a clear following while making the establishment feel less like a stark white hospital. Service was as one would expect of a counter-serve establishment (read: quick, terse), albeit with a bit more tact and friendliness than we’ve come across even compared to some sit-down locales. Evidenced by the standard issue map of Italy on the wall, Letizia’s menu consists primarily of Italian specialties ranging from hearty pasta dishes, salads, and grinder-style sandwiches to their ever-present specialty and traditional pizza offerings including a “garbage” pie packed high with tons of meaty toppings.
Pizza. After sampling countless different pizzas over the past year, we can say that Letizia’s makes a very unique pie both in taste and in texture. This pizza is founded on a super thin and uniquely dense, lifeless crust that is hardly crisp, but flavorful nonetheless. Slathered virtually to the edge is a uniquely sharp and tangy sauce, with slightly metallic notes reminiscent of The Varsity Club’s party room pie (we realize that this is a very obscure reference that only about a half generation of Stamford kids will understand, but suffice it to say—this is not a particularly good thing). Cutting through this faint taste of rusty buffalo nickels was just the right amount of creamy, delicious cheese with a perfect springy snap cooked to a golden-brown, gooey consistency. Atop this Pie of One Thousand Tastes was our topping of choice, half-steak and half-a virtual swimming pool of oil that would make even the least health conscious of diners consider a napkin mop-up job before digging in (this seemed to be exclusive to the slices that we specified to be half-cheese, so we’ll chalk that up as an aspect of their plain pie). All of that said, the toppings were absolutely delicious: the steak was tender and moist, the oil was heart-stoppingly indulgent. As you may have gathered from our take on the crust, we were less than enthusiastic about this pizza’s floppy, cumbersome, ingredient slip-prone texture that had us reaching for a knife and fork from the beginning—probably the biggest knock on yet another decisively below average pie.
The bottom line. While this pie was immensely flavorful, most of it’s flavor is derived from a strong, gaudy, sub-par sauce that overwhelms an otherwise thin and incoherent pizza that is nothing like anything we’ve ever tasted—and not in a good way.
Hits the Spot: 6.3/10
Large Cheese: $11.75