c_o Sally PizzaNew Haven pizza, though less famous than New York-style or Chicago deep dish, is truly the best. This “apizza” is characterized by a thin crust—a perfect combination of chewy yet crisp—often accompanied by a sweet tomato sauce, fresh tomatoes, or even clams! Though Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana, AKA Pepe’s, is credited with starting New Haven pizza, Sally’s Apizza and Modern Apizza are acknowledged to be the other two members of a holy trinity of pizza parlors. There’s even a few other contenders, like the trendy restaurant that goes by the name of BAR. According to a surprisingly detailed Wikipedia entry, Frank Sinatra preferred Sally’s, while Ronald Reagan preferred Pepe’s. 

My family has always been a Pepe’s family. My mom grew up in New Haven and would take any excuse to bring my family to the location in the Chestnut Hill mall, just 10 minutes from where I grew up. Every time I visited my grandparents in New Haven, we always made a calzone stop at Modern, which is the only one of the aforementioned pizza parlors to offer these pockets of delicious goodness. I have always had a special place in my heart for Pepe’s, so with the help of my editor, Lewis Woloch ’24, I set out to determine which pizza reigns supreme in New Haven (since I do not agree with Ronald Reagan in many other matters). 

Issie’s Reviews

Sally’s Apizza:

One Saturday evening in April, I rallied three of my friends to trek to Wooster Square—New Haven’s Little Italy—to join me on my quest to declare a New Haven apizza champion. After waiting outside in line for an hour and a half, we finally got seated at a booth in Sally’s Apizza. There was a cozy atmosphere: Various pictures and newspaper articles littered the walls and there were a few colorful lamps overhead. We waited around 30 minutes for our pizza to come out, piping hot. We ordered the garden special pie (fresh tomato, zucchini, onion, and basil with a mozzarella base) and a choose-your-own with sausage, onion, and mushrooms on a classic tomato base. While my ravenous appetite may have factored into some bias, Sally’s pizza was incontestably delicious. The tomato sauce was perfectly sweet and savory, the fresh zucchini and tomatoes added freshness to the cheesy base, the onions were crunchy, and the crust was perfect. I ate these hot pizzas so fast the roof of my mouth was burned for a week. You know the battle was worth it when you have the scars to prove it.  

Pepe’s Pizza:

The next weekend, I took a trip to Pepe’s to see if it could top my Sally’s experience. Though I opted for takeout to avoid the line, the joy I experienced was on par. I ordered the sausage, onion, and mushroom pizza with a mozzarella base. The crust was tangy in the best way, and the pizza’s excellence was fortified by the perfect caramelization of the onions and the umami depth of the mushrooms. Overall, an incredible experience. 

At the end of the day, these pizzas were matched in quality and flavor, so I’d base my decision on whichever has the shortest line! I’d recommend bringing your 3-4 friends and making a day out of it. Get one tomato-base pie and one fresh pie with a white base to really get the most out of your experience. 


Lewis’ Reviews

Modern Apizza:

Sadly, while I planned to go to this acclaimed spot, the immense crowds prompted my father and me to head back to Brooklyn instead of sticking around for a late dinner. Based on the one time I went here three years ago, during my freshman year, I can semi-confidently say that the calzones are great and the pizza is even better, which adheres to Issie’s family’s opinion too. 


Compared to the famous trio of Sally’s, Pepe’s, and Modern, BAR, a brick oven pizza joint right near Yale’s campus, doesn’t quite have the same history or hype. However, their pies, as well as the restaurant space itself, emanate new-age vibes, vying for a place among the pizza greats of New Haven. 

While the loud, boisterous atmosphere reminded me of a recent trip to Frank Pepe’s, BAR attempts to set themselves apart through an appeal to youth culture. Their website advertises the “Bru Room,” in addition to a dance club open on Fridays and Saturdays. While my specific visit was alongside a large group of Yale professors (don’t ask why), most of the crowd was on the younger side. When I asked for a coffee, the waiter gleefully informed me that they only serve alcoholic drinks and soda. While waiting for the pies to arrive I began to worry: Did the name reflect an alcohol-first, pizza-second mentality? Did the restaurant place an importance on any sort of Italian heritage?

The arriving fleet of enormous pies soon convinced me otherwise. The large group I was with ordered a variety of pizzas with a wide range of toppings: eggplant, tomato and basil, bacon, and something that tasted suspiciously like mashed potato. Doing some research after the fact, I realized that BAR allows for full customer customization of their pizzas: They actually don’t have any concoctions of their own and just provide the base pies and an illustrious list of toppings on their online menu, which explains why some of the pizzas our party was eating were a little strange. Overall, I appreciated the crispy eggplant combined with the sweet and savory sauce, and the house salad was surprisingly nuanced and delicious. Yet BAR itself was hard for me to conceptualize as a true, pizza-driven establishment, and for that reason, I may stick to the usual suspects the next time I’m in New Haven.

Isabel Kapner can be reached at ikapner@wesleyan.edu.

Lewis Woloch can be reached at lwoloch@wesleyan.edu.