While there are many connoisseurs of pizza who will fight us on this point, we cannot say with absolute certainty that Modern Apizza of New Haven serves the best pizza on earth. In our book, it might rank only second or third best. But the differences among Connecticut’s greats are minor; and if even if you do put one of the area’s other holy pizza shrines at the top of your list, eating at Modern is a spectacular experience, perhaps like winning only $100 million rather than $125 million in the lottery.
“Our brick oven reaches temperature in excess of 700 degrees,” Modern’s menu warns. “Some pizzas may blacken around the edges, and even lose their perfect shape due to contact with the brick floor of the oven.” Ok with us! While a few places around the edge may be charred (very much so if you order it well-done), the whole pizza has a swoonfully appetizing smoky taste; and you see why when you devour slices off the paper on which the pizza rests atop its round pan. The paper appears strewn with charred little bits of semolina from the oven floor, most of which cling to the underside of the crust, creating a slightly burnt hot-bread flavor that no metal-floored pizza oven could produce.
Modern’s specialty toppings include broccoli, sliced tomato, artichoke, and clams casino, which is clams, bacon, and peppers. It is also known for the Italian Bomb, which is a joy to eat despite the fact that it totally overwhelms its crust: sausage, pepperoni, bacon, peppers, onions, mushrooms, and garlic. There is also a Vegetarian Bomb topped with spinach, broccoli, olives, peppers, mushrooms, onion, and garlic.
As for the New Haven favorite, white clam pizza (hold the mozzarella, please) Modern uses fresh clams brought to the restaurant three times a week, and it is delicious – ocean-sweet and powerfully garlicky. Without a blanket of mozzarella, the crust that puffs up dry and chewy around the edges, staying crisp and wafer-thin all across the middle.
Note: Gluten-free pizza is available, made on a mozzarella base.