Legendary | Worth driving from anywhere
Review by: Roadfood Team
Not A Secret
Many years ago, I sat with Roadfood.com co-founder Stephen Rushmore at a table in Zuppardi’s of West Haven, Connecticut. We were devouring a fresh clam pizza. At one point, we decided that it just might be New Haven style pizza at its best. We joked that perhaps we ought not to post a review of Zuppardi’s on the website. Do we really want to share such a treasure with others? Might it become so crowded that we can’t get in?
Not that Zuppardi’s is a secret. It opened its doors in 1934. On many nights — weekends especially — you will likely have to wait for a table, even if the second dining room is opened up. But given its location off the New Haven radar, it doesn’t attract the mobs of pizzaphiles who flock to the big guns on Wooster Street. It remains what it always has been – a neighborhood pizzeria. It serves New Haven style pizza that I consider to be among the best, if not the very best, anywhere.
Elements of Greatness
The crust is Neapolitan / New Haven style. Thin and crisp with a puffy circumference, it demands a good chew. It rewards that chew with profound yeasty savor. Toppings? Zuppardi’s makes its own fennel sausage and strews it across the pizza in rugged clumps. In season, you want fresh tomato. Broccoli rabe, escarole and beans, hot peppers, and roasted peppers lead my list of favorites.
The Legendary White Clam
About New Haven’s unique clam pizza: They open clams only when you order it, not before. And they spread them across the pie in abundance. These fresh clams are small and tender, glistening with briny-sweet oceanic liquor, complemented by a surfeit of chopped garlic and herbs. “Some customers ask for mutz [mozzarella cheeese],” the pizzaiolo shared with a disapproving frown, “But that just weighs it down.”
Directions & Hours
|Meals Served||Lunch, Dinner|
|Credit Cards Accepted||Yes|
Photos & Videos
What To Eat
Zuppardi’s Apizza Recipes
What do you think of Zuppardi’s Apizza?
4 Responses to “Zuppardi’s Apizza”
April 22nd, 2022
I finally made it out to New Haven last fall and was able to try five of the legendary pizzerias (three of them twice). Zuppardi’s was the first we went to at and while I was hesitant to try any sausage on the east coast (I had been warned, especially in New York to not expect much with sausage) but I saw that Zuppardi’s did homemade fennel sausage which is what I love back home in Chicago. It was easily among the best sausage I have ever had and the apizza was fantastic. The next day we got another full sausage pie and it was just as good. This is one of those places where you eat it and say, “I can’t believe how good this is!” Once you say that, its a five star institution. And I can see how the tourists will not go here because they want Pepe, Sally’s and Modern first. Sally’s may be my first choice, but Zuppardi’s is second when I go back to New Haven. Another thing I noticed is unlike the more famous three joints in New Haven which use coal-fired ovens, Zuppardi’s uses gas. Doesn’t matter to me. Can’t wait to return. This is a no-brainer.
October 31st, 2010
Zuppardi’s is a little place that has been doing what it does best while the area grew around it. You cannot find them on a main street; you’ll have to drive around the blocks of homes in the town of West Haven but, that said, they are easy to find. This typical Connecticut storefront operation isn’t just a business but a neighbor. There are a few tables and a TV in the corner. Pizza boxes are stacked in anticipation of the pies that will be sold later that evening.
Like the “Big Three” in New Haven, Zuppardi’s has been in business since the 30s. They produce a pie of the same quality as those guys too. What is unique is that their pie is produced in a typical pizza oven, without coal or wood.
The bottom is crisply scorched on the bottom, with a dark edge around the side. I had their house-made sausage, which is wonderful with its specks of fennel and pepper. Unlike their competition, Zuppardi’s offers a few more topping choices for their pies, including eggplant, broccoli rabe, and even pineapple. I do not believe that pineapple can be found on Wooster Street pies, though some purists will insist that they shouldn’t.
Zuppardi’s has another business where they produce a prodigious amount of pies daily for the local bars in the area. Over in the corner is a freezer full of these pre-made pies, along with other meal items. It is very rare for this suggestion to be made on Roadfood.com, but I recommend that you bring an ice chest along for dinner so you can take back some pies.
West Haven is considered a lesser family member and you may decide to eat in New Haven. You shouldn’t, as this is a very cool little area with other restaurants, big and small, that deserve recognition. There are diners, and clam shacks on the beach of Long Island Sound, and much more.
May 28th, 2010
The Zuppardi family has been making New Haven style pizza in the residential neighborhood of West Haven for three generations. The white clam pizza has become a signature dish in New Haven, but surprisingly Zuppardi’s Apizza downplays their addictive pie.
Don’t start thinking about driving to Zuppardi’s until you call ahead and order a “FRESH” white clam pizza. We emphasize “fresh” since they will assume you want the mediocre canned variety which is like comparing Chef Boyardee to fresh pasta. Just like a fresh seafood shack that receives deliveries from local fisherman, the fresh white clam pizza is “market priced.” At least two dozen little necks are shucked immediately after your order is placed to ensure maximum freshness. It is a time-consuming process, so call 15-20 minutes before your ETA to prevent excessive thumb spinning.
When the moment arrives, a piping hot white clam pizza topped with fresh garlic, grated Romano, olive oil and sprinkle of parsley will be placed on your table. The edge of the crust is thick and crunchy, resembling the texture of freshly cooked baguette. The underside, which had less char than other New Haven pizzerias, was crispy and held firm during lift-off. The clams were sweet, tender and moist, and could be independently satisfying as an appetizer. The complete package makes Zuppardi’s Apizza fresh white clam pizza one of the best in world.
To wash down your meal, consider the locally produced Foxon Park soda. We gravitate towards the birch or root beer which is made with real sugar, instead of corn syrup found in the mass-produced beverage companies. For dessert, be sure to try the locally made Italian ices.
Lastly, Zuppardi’s has a freezer of single-serving frozen pies to enjoy at home. What a great idea! It is a far superior option to preservative-laden options found at the supermarket.
February 20th, 2009
Zuppardi’s is at least as good as, if not better than, the big name apizza places in New Haven, without the long lines. Actually, I think it is the best in the state.
I’m addicted to the sausage pizza, which has liberal amounts of sweet homemade sausage with fennel seed. The crust tastes like homemade bread and is nicely burned along the edges. I’ve not tried the frozen take-home version, but leftover pie reheats nicely on a pizza stone in the oven.
Service is friendly, even on busy nights. Atmosphere is far from elegant, even with the recent makeover that includes new Formica and a McDonald’s tile floor. Pizza, salad, and antipasto (that’s the entire menu) are served on paper plates. If you want some elegance, go someplace else, but I guarantee the pizza won’t be nearly as good.