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Apizza History

New Haven-style apizza was created by Italian immigrants who came to the New Haven area in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Many of these immigrants were bakers and pastry chefs in Italy and brought their skills over to New Haven. The apizza came from these bakers who created simple pies such as the tomato or anchovy pies since at the time refrigeration was not invented. These toppings were simple and did not require refrigeration.


Eventually, the apizza started to take off in the local community and as technology advanced, pizzerias started to open all across New Haven but especially centered in Little Italy on Wooster Street. New Haven’s most famous pizza, the white clam pie, was born around this time and is a nationally ranked-favorite. Wooster Street became the home of the most popular New Haven apizza restaurants, Sally’s and Frank Pepe’s who have now become national chains. 


Traditional New Haven style apizza is baked in a coal or deck oven, and is charred on the bottom and crust. It’s crispy, yet flavorful. Traditional toppings range from clams, tomatoes, and anchovies, to plain sauce and pecorino romano. Today, there are more popular toppings offered such as pepperoni, bacon, and sausage. Some pizzerias  have even gotten creative and have created mashed potato or dessert pizzas. 


Today, the New Haven area is known as the Pizza Capital of the World. Each individual in the region has a different favorite pizza joint, and no two are alike except for one thing: a consistent char, fresh tomato sauce, and lots of pecorino romano.

pizza capital of the world

Apizza Dictionary

Anchovies: One of the first toppings to ever appear on a New Haven Style Apizza. Anchovies did not need refrigeration which made them easy to store and use as a topping.

Apizza: A word that is used in the New Haven area for pizza. Pronounced "ah'beetz" and was coined in the late 1800s/early 1900s by Italian immigrants

Bones: The crust that is not eaten!

Char: The black over-baked part of the pizza crust that forms due to the use of a coal oven and thin crust. Char does not mean it is burnt! 

Clam pie: New Haven's most famous apizza that originated right on Wooster Street. A traditional clam pie has fresh shucked local clams, garlic, oregano, EVOO, and pecorino romano

Coal oven: Traditional ovens that New Haven apizza were baked in

Deck oven: Modern ovens that New Haven apizza are baked in

Fresh Tomato Pie: A summer favorite for apizza aficionados. This pie is topped with fresh tomatoes, garlic, mozzarella, and EVOO

Hearth: The heated surface a pizza is baked on 


Mozz: Slang term used by locals to describe mozzarella 

New Haven Pie: The "original" New Haven pie, crushed tomatoes, pecorino romano and garlic 

Napoletana: Another term used to describe apizza 

Pie: Slang term for pizza 

Pizza Joint: Slang term for a pizzeria 

Pizza: Italian word for "a pie". Used to describe a round to semi-round flour-based dough baked in an oven 

Pizza peel: A wooden long spoon-shaped board used to assemble and launch a pizza 

San Marzano Tomato: Traditional tomatoes used in apizza tomato sauce

The Big 4: Sally's, Pepe's, Modern, and Grand Apizza. These four are considered the best pizzerias in New Haven

Wood-fired oven: Oven that uses 100% dried wood to bake an apizza

Wooster Street: The heart of New Haven's Little Italy. Wooster Street is the home to many pizzerias, bakeries, and Italian shops. 

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