For the best White Clam pizza in Connecticut, you need to head to New Haven, where it was first made in the mid 20th century. While its exact origin is uncertain, one frequently repeated story is that a clam vendor in an alley off Wooster Street near Pepe’s Pizzeria Napoletana convinced Frank Pepe that the two of them should pool their resources. Raw littlenecks on the half-shell already were on Pepe’s menu as a pre-pizza hors d’oeuvre. Pepe used them on a pie with neither tomatoes nor mozzarella cheese – just the freshly-opened clams, minced garlic, olive oil, a dusting of sharp Pecarino cheese and a sprinkle of herbs. The elegant medley is really as much a flatbread as it is pizza, its crust ultra-thin with a rugged underside from grains of semolina on the oven floor, its circumference puffed up in a golden circle that offers profound resilience in every bite.
Where Else to Order
White clam pizza remains Pepe’s signature pie and a popular item at New Haven’s Modern Apizza and Eli’s Brick Oven Pizza, as well as at Dayton Street Apizza (which customarily adds a bit of mozzarella). Some connoisseurs believe the very best white clam pie is served at Zuppardi’s Apizza in West Haven, where clams are shucked only when the pizza is ordered.
The granddaddy of New Haven pizzerias, Pepe's is best known for its coal oven's chewy, full-flavored thin crust. And for superb, simple white clam pies.
Eli's pizza has a crust that is microthin but just hefty enough to offer a nice chew rather than break when bitten. A New Haven-area pizzeria worth the trip.