First Street Apizza is a hole-in-the-wall storefront primarily designed for take-out business. Seating consists of just three tables and a short counter at the front window. The menu is huge, not only all kinds of pizza but subs and sandwiches, stuffed breads and calzones, soups and salads and pasta.
With time and appetite for only one item when I first visited, I chose the New Haven classic, clam pizza. “White or red?” asked the girl at the order window. I chose white, which here means mozzarella but no red sauce. The clams are fresh, not canned, but to my taste, they seem to have been opened a while ago, being more chewy than juicy. Their flavor is fresh and sweet, but I miss the succulent nectar that drips from a just-opened one. Cheese is spread judiciously so as not to overwhelm the crust or clams and bits of raw garlic are strewn about in abundance. Lemon wedges are provided on the side, which do add sparkle to the clams; but call me hidebound: I’m just not happy squeezing lemon juice on a pizza.
The crust is New Haven style, meaning Neapolitan: very thin with a puffy circumference, its underneath spangled with tasty debris from the oven floor. It is not as dense and chewy as what you’ll find in New Haven on Wooster Street (and State Street); the lighter weight gives it a certain elegance that is very different from the soulful raunchiness of a pie at, say, Sally’s.
I have since returned for pizzas topped with sausage, broccoli rabe, shrimp, and a glorious combo named for the customer who always ordered it: Artie’s Special. That’s anchovies, onions, garlic, and grated cheese, hold the mozzarella: a powerhouse!