February 12, 2010

Sally’s Apizza – New Haven, CT

We went to Pepe’s shortly after we concluded our tour of Stamford, we ate at Modern shortly after that, and then—inexplicably—we waited another six months to tackle the final piece of New Haven’s holy pizza triumvirate, Sally’s. Yes, we finally braved the arctic winds waiting in yet another out-on-the-street New Haven line to round out our tour of the city’s heaviest hitters.

IMG_3931 Establishment. As it turns out, New Haven pizzerias are all kind of the same: minimal parking, old coal-fired ovens, and long lines in the street (which can be charming on a summer evening, but painful and borderline infuriating in the dead of winter). Sally’s is no exception, with its requisite long, dimly lit, wood-paneled, ceramic-tiled, drop-ceilinged dining room spattered with pictures and articles attesting to its fame and/or Italian-ness (apparently, Ol’ Blue Eyes was a big fan of the place).

large_Frank-Sinatra(sorry for the lack of photos, the garish, stained glass “PIZZA” bar lamps blew out all of our good interior shots).

Once we found our way inside, thawed, and were seated (no small feat in its own right) we waited a good 10 minutes to be helped, and another 35 or so to be served. In this time, we witnessed an obvious regular strut in and feed his family of six, a family of eight leave in absolute disgust after their one hour wait yielded no pizza whatsoever, and the brazen neglect of the time-honored “I’ll be with you in a sec” promise about 40 times over. But Sally’s (and the rest of the city in general) isn’t known for its kindly interest and goodwill, especially toward newbies like us; we never expected much. The menu is more or less a list of toppings, among which are the New Haven-specific white clam pie and an extraordinary emphasis on mozzarella being considered a topping. Oh, New Haven, you and your disconcerting ways.

Pizza. Once we absorbed the horrible one-two punch of waiting and terrible, impersonal service, we sunk our teeth into a medium mozz (“mootz”) pie topped with sausage. That’s two toppings if you’re keeping track.


The crust was less chewy than expected, but it was super thin, yeasty, and blistered with a hearty New Haven char in places (and burnt to a friggin’ crisp in others), making for a markedly unique taste and fingers resembling those of a chimney sweep. Crust aside, the sauce was the true crown jewel of this pizza with a strong, well-seasoned tanginess and the chunky texture of whole crushed tomatoes. The mozzarella, while somewhat of a outcast in New Haven, was superbly creamy and stringy. Further, it brought the pie together both physically and in terms of flavor, mellowing the sharp flavors of the sauce and making us wonder why it’s so much of an afterthought in these parts—without it, this is just a big cracker with sauce.

We weren’t particularly crazy about the sausage topping as Sally’s uses sliced sausage rather than crumbled, which tends to shrivel into little grease-filled cups in the oven. Plus, it tasted pretty bad. Also, as is the case with ultra thin pies like these, it cools ultra fast; even when you put it away with ravenous Pizza Tour speed, your last slice is just south of tepid. That said, we can see how Sally’s simple core product keeps people coming back, especially favored regulars that can traipse right in and throw back a few well-rounded, iconic pies while suckers like us play the waiting game on the street.

The bottom line. Sally’s certainly earns its reputation as one of the big three with a clean, textbook New Haven pie, but the unwritten rules here will leave you scratching your head.

Establishment: 13/30
Pizza: 21/30
Hits the Spot: 5.0/10
Large Cheese: $15.80 (18")

Sally's Apizza on Urbanspoon


  1. It's also the shape of a mole you'd want to get checked out. Ick.

  2. If you want Wooster-Street-quality apizza ("ah-beetz") without the long lines of Yalies and tourists, and a shorter drive from Stamford, try either branch of Papa's Pizza in Milford.

    For no lines but with a longer drive from Stamford, try Luigi's in North Haven.

    FWIW, a classic "New Haven Pie" has no mootz, authentic New Haven pizzerias spell their product Apizza, are closed on Mondays, and serve only Foxon Park soda.

    I prefer red-clam apizza to white-clam, or any white apizza. Apizza without tomato sauce is a grilled cheese sandwich.

    Michael N. Marcus (who spent 12 years in New Haven, 36 in New York, and nine in Milford)

  3. We decided to try Sally's in New Haven July 2 while my husband was there for a job interview at Yale. We got up and walked out after waiting 20 minutes for any drink at the table!! When my husband asked the waiter about a drink, the waiter mumbled "it's over there" then proceeded to sit down in the back booth. He got up and walked to the front booth and sat down with the waitresses and wrote on a notepad. He looked at us and then stood up and started to fill the drinks. He then looked over at us again which is when we got up and left! Go to Frank Pepe's down the street the waiters are friendly and explain how everything works.

  4. I know sallys is weird. But I love it. Everyone I bring loves the pizza and learns to enjoy the wait. I understand all the negatives. But its one of those places that if you dont get it (understand) by the second visit, then you "just ain't getting it". I started going there maybe once a month about a year and a half ago. Now when I go I call ahead for a reservation, get a table near the kitchen, and have learned the names of everyone who works there. I've tried the others. This pizza is awesome. Just my two cents. R.I.P. Flo Consiglio

  5. I love Sally's and Pepe's but I frequently go to Abate's on Wooster Street. No tourist crowd, seldom a wait and plenty of parking.


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