Eli’s Brick Oven Pizza and Market

Review by: Jane & Michael Stern

Connecticut does not have an official state dish, but all serious eaters know what it would be. Pizza, of course. Connecticut didn’t invent it; but without question it is the place to get the best. Most of the state’s cities and towns have pizza parlors worth checking out; in and around New Haven, the choice of excellent ones is staggering.

Eli’s, in Hamden just up Whitney Avenue, is high on the list of worthies. It is no hole in the wall. It is a modern restaurant with a full menu and an attached market that sells Italian products, meals ready to take home and heat, and handsome pastries. Never mind all that; the specialty of the house here is brick-oven pizza, a fact that is evident when you note that each table is outfitted with an armature designed to hold two pizza pans in the air for easy access by all around it.

Eli’s pizza has a crust I want to call microthin, but it is just hefty enough to offer a nice chew rather than break when bitten. Its rugged underside is a beautiful scattering of dark grains from the oven’s floor, its edge just barely risen, mostly dark brown but blistered black in a few places where it rose the highest in the oven. The topping selection is vast and includes two of New Haven’s signature configurations, both originally sold at Pepe’s – white clam (no red sauce, no mozzarella) and “old fashioned,” the latter a tomato pie topped only with a sprinkling of pecarino cheese but, here too, no melted mozzarella.

I could quibble and say that the dough lacks the certain soulful flavor that distinguishes the great crusts of Wooster Street, but the fact is that Eli’s pizza is one I never would kick off the table, and is superior to 99.99% of the world’s pizzas.

Directions & Hours

11:30am - 12am
  • Monday: 11:30 AM – 12:00 AM
  • Tuesday: 11:30 AM – 12:00 AM
  • Wednesday: 11:30 AM – 12:00 AM
  • Thursday: 11:30 AM – 12:00 AM
  • Friday: 11:30 AM – 2:00 AM
  • Saturday: 11:30 AM – 2:00 AM
  • Sunday: 11:30 AM – 11:00 PM

What To Eat

White Clam Pizza (large)

DISH
Sausage Pizza (large)

DISH
Old Fashioned Plain – Large

DISH

Eli’s Brick Oven Pizza and Market Recipes

Discuss

What do you think of Eli’s Brick Oven Pizza and Market?

One Response to “Eli’s Brick Oven Pizza and Market”

Bobby Stone

August 23rd, 2008

Eli’s has the best pizza in Hamden. While certainly not the equal of Pepe’s, Sally’s, or Modern in New Haven (all of which are worthy of a long drive), Eli’s has rediscovered the New Haven pizza tradition here in town. While a bit overpriced for the area, the restaurant features comfortable booths and fine service. On Friday, Saturday, or Sunday be prepared to wait for up to a half-an-hour.

The pizza has a very thin crust, good flavor, and they clearly understand the area’s cultural roots. Eli’s offers a so-called “old-fashioned” pizza, the old-time standard in these parts, with just sauce (no cheese). Excellent! The white clam pizza can be very good but chewy.

While I have recommended this restaurant, if you have the time head on down to New Haven. My personal favorite there is Pepe’s Restaurant on Wooster Street. Expect long waits in line but you will be amply rewarded. No one makes as good a pizza as Pepe’s although other locals prefer Sally’s (also on Wooster Street in New Haven) and Modern (State Street in New Haven). All of these restaurants eclipse Eli’s by some margin. While debate rages, there is uniform agreement that these three comprise the very best.

People in this area take pizza seriously and while the Italian roots of the area have been watered down, Eli’s is the best in Hamden. Pepe’s, Sally’s, or Modern have the very best pizza the area can offer.

Reply

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