Best Pizza in New Haven Connecticut: Frank Pepe’s, Sally’s, & Modern

Best Pizza in New Haven Connecticut

Growing up, I used to love traveling to New Haven to visit my grandparents. In addition to my grandmother’s amazing cooking, I knew I was always going to get some delicious pizza, too. However, it wasn’t until much later in life that I came to a startling realization… That same pizza I grew up eating was not just some of the best in New Haven Connecticut, but in the entire world! Just over the last few years, New Haven pizza has grown in popularity, drawing in massive crowds to places like Frank Pepe’s, Modern, and Sally’s Apizza. And want to know the wildest part? They’re all within just a couple of blocks of each other! 

New England Travel Inspiration 

Quick History of New Haven Pizza

Way back in 1925, an ambitious Frank Pepe opened the first pizza restaurant on Wooster Street. Modern was the next to open its doors in 1934, and the New Haven pizza revolution was officially underway! After watching the success of his uncle, Frank Pepe’s nephew would go on to start Sally’s Apizza down the street in 1938. 

These three have created what most feel is the holy trinity of pizza places in New Haven. The Neapolitan style thin crust is cooked in coal-fired brick ovens, which gives it its now famous char on the bottom.

Frank Pepe’s and Sally’s still use the coal fire method to this day! You may notice Modern and Sally’s added the “A” on the front of the word pizza creating what sounds like the most Italian word ever in “Apizza.” This is part of a dialect of the Italian language only used in Naples… Talk about authentic! 

History of New Haven Pizza

Best Pizza in New Haven Connecticut 

So what’s the best pizza in New Haven CT? Well, that all depends on who you ask! I should start off by telling you I’m 100%, completely biased to Frank Pepe’s New Haven. We have been everywhere from New York City to Italy, and I still completely swear by this pizza!

I have cousins that prefer Modern, friends that LOVE Sally’s, and know people that exclusively eat at Frank Pepe’s. They’re all technically New Haven-style, but they do have their own swag and flavor that truly stand out.

So what’s your favorite New Haven pizza? You’ll have to try them all to find out!

Wooster Street Little Italy

Best Pizza in New Haven

Modern Pizza New Haven

Let’s start with good old Modern. Modern Apizza New Haven may have been the second to open, but that doesn’t make it any less delicious!

Conveniently located off the highway, this New Haven staple combines a classic thin crust with a heavy portion of cheese and sauce to die for. I swear whenever we get a Modern pie I almost drop it because it’s so heavy. And I mean that in the best way possible!

Modern Pizza New Haven

Modern Pizza New Haven CT

Frank Pepe’s Pizza New Haven

Welcome to the original New Haven Pizzeria! Frank Pepe’s Pizza New Haven has perfected the art of coal-fired pizza and has been excelling at it for almost 100 years. From the moment you step in and see the massive coal-fired brick oven to when you sit down at your table, it will feel like home.

One of the most unique pizza creations that Frank Pepe’s New Haven is famous for is the White Clam pizza. They’re credited for inventing this seafood pie, and we’ve now seen it on menus as far away as New Zealand!

For better or worse, you should know the secrets out on Pepe’s. If you’re going on a weekend be prepared to wait up to 2 hours for a table. 

Frank Pepe's Pizza New Haven

Frank Pepe's Pizza New Haven CT

Frank Pepe's White Clam Pizza

Sally’s Apizza New Haven

Sally’s Apizza New Haven is truly an acquired taste. They take coal-fired to the max on every pie which makes for a crispy charred bottom. For some, this would seem burnt and overcooked. Yet, to others, it’s what makes Sally’s the best pizza in New Haven Connecticut.

Sally’s is essentially a hole in the wall and has the smallest space to dine in out of the three pizzerias. Although recently, it looks like they have added some outdoor seating.

Legend has it that Frank Sinatra ate at Sally’s in New Haven. He loved it so much, he would even have pizza delivered all the way from Sally’s whenever he was in New York! 

Sally's Apizza New Haven

Sally's Apizza New Haven CT

Have any questions on Pepe’s, Sally’s, or Modern Pizza New Haven? How about sharing more of the best pizza in New Haven Connecticut? Let us know your favorite in the comments! 

Where in the world are we? Follow our daily adventures on Instagram @nothingfamiliar

Safe Travels,
Brigitte & Jake

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Pizza New Haven

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73 Comments

  1. Paul
    July 12, 2022 / 6:19 am

    From Manhattan, just did a New Haven pizza run (doing it for years), we did Modern, Sally, Pepe’s, and the newly opened Zenelli’s ..the Neapolitan style from Zenelli’s was hands down best for our entire group.

    So lucky to have so many amazing choices!

    • Brigitte & Jake
      July 12, 2022 / 8:32 am

      Need to try Zenelli’s! Crazy how many options there are for great pizza there.

  2. Steve
    October 11, 2021 / 4:09 pm

    Once again the same old story. I swear Pepe’s and Sally’s must pay for these reviews. I’m always surprised at the idiots waiting in huge lines outside.

    News flash – it’s “ok” but certainly doesn’t deserve the overblown fanfare
    Colony is just as good or better along with Zuppatdis in West Haven.

    • Brigitte & Jake
      October 12, 2021 / 8:19 pm

      We’ve never waited in line. Almost always call it in, or go early on a weekday to avoid the crowds. With that said, there is so much good pizza in CT you can’t go wrong. Can’t wait to try some of the other places mentioned in the comments!

  3. Wolf
    October 4, 2021 / 5:07 pm

    I grew up in East Haven and have eaten New Haven style apizza my whole life. No other part of the country can compare to our local apizza. Although, the 3 you mentioned are legendary and still have a great apizza, Pepe’s and Sally’s have lost a step since franchising and selling to new owners and many people that live in the area know it and say it too.. It amazes me no one has mentioned Olde World Apizza, which I think is better than the top 3. Certainly, one of the best in New Haven County. Zuppardis, Ernie’s, Tipsy Tomatoes, Bar and Roseland are all well worth mentioning. Let’s face it, were spoiled when it comes to apizza.. Pretty hard to find a bad one here..

    • Brigitte & Jake
      October 4, 2021 / 5:13 pm

      There are so many good pizza places in New Haven it’s unbelievable. So spoiled!

    • Dave Simone
      October 9, 2021 / 6:18 am

      I am from New York City (Manhattan) and we have great pizza, but I absolutely agree the best pizza in the world is in the New Haven area with the names you mentioned. The added bonus for me is making the short trip up I95 with family or friends to visit your neighborhood and get the finest pizza in the world.

      • Brigitte & Jake
        October 9, 2021 / 9:44 am

        So true!

  4. Damian
    September 21, 2021 / 3:59 am

    I’ll take a white claim from Pepes, red sause w garlic from Sally’s, and modern for their regular pie, that being said, other contenders Zuparti’s sausage, and Ernies, and Delagna at Nolo are also great ! I really wouldn’t compare other places to even being close to the ones I’ve mentioned ! I’ve lived in New York, and their most famous spots can’t hold up against these New haven Legends.

    • Brigitte & Jake
      September 21, 2021 / 1:24 pm

      So true! New Haven is the best for sure

  5. July 23, 2021 / 11:40 pm

    Hi guys. Great article. All three are great. You should try Tipsy tomato bar and pizzeria in derby Ct. Absolutely a must try. Very thin new haven style pizza and also have delicious gourmet pies. Tipsy won an award from the pizza gavones for best specialty pizza. Baked stuffed shrimp pizza. It’s absolutely delicious. 656 new haven avenue derby ct. You won’t be disappointed.

    • Brigitte & Jake
      July 24, 2021 / 7:13 am

      We will definitely stop in! Sounds delicious

  6. Danny
    July 7, 2021 / 3:02 pm

    I’m from CT living in South Carolina I’ve had both Pepe’s and Modern both excellent pizza’s compared to the pizza’s down here which are far and in between finding a decent pizza. Be happy what you have in New Haven.

    • Brigitte & Jake
      July 7, 2021 / 5:45 pm

      Seriously! You forget how good it is sometimes when you’re in other places. The best!

    • Frank Antonucci
      August 31, 2021 / 3:55 pm

      Hi Danny! Grew up around Wooster St, now living in Mt P! Man are you right! I had to fly up to New Haven for my closest cousin’s funeral. Like my brother. I went to Sally’s, new owners, but still the best! Went to Modern & had an excellent pie!
      Tolli’s of East Haven, opened in John’s Island. Not Sally’s, but pretty dang good.
      Best to you

      • Brigitte & Jake
        August 31, 2021 / 4:02 pm

        So many amazing pizza joints around New Haven!

  7. June 20, 2021 / 12:19 pm

    Uniqueness is an absolute. There can’t be rather, more, mostly, very, pretty in front of unique. Almost is okay., as is not quite.

    • Monica
      October 21, 2021 / 1:20 pm

      Somebody needs to try Dominic and Pia in Waterbury CT 06704. The best!!!! And it’s made by the cute little Italian grandma. You know it’s made with love.

      • Brigitte & Jake
        October 21, 2021 / 2:51 pm

        I need to try it!

  8. Jim Brewer
    June 19, 2021 / 6:09 pm

    Yes do try Roseland….mmmmm I can smell that place…..you get slapped the face with the beautiful aromas when you drive up to the place. I miss being able to enjoy a pie or just a slice

    • Brigitte & Jake
      June 19, 2021 / 6:14 pm

      Need to try Roseland!!

  9. I Gellis
    June 16, 2021 / 4:37 pm

    I think this New Haven pizza thing is more hype then anything, fueled by somebody on social media with a sports gambling background and no real food background especially Italian Food. Much more gimmicky than substance. I grew up in New York not far from the Connecticut border and New Haven was never mentioned as a good pizza place ever! NYC and bordering towns along with NJ ruled when it came to pizza and Italian food. Sorry I just don’t buy the New Haven pizza hype.

    • Brigitte & Jake
      June 16, 2021 / 4:49 pm

      Portnoy definitely made it more popular and brought it to another level, but if it stunk people wouldn’t go at this rate. With that said there’s a ton of good pizza and great Italian food all over the east coast. To each their own!

      • October 9, 2021 / 6:25 am

        I am from NYC and have tried all the New Haven spots and I am sorry but New Haven is the pizza capital of the world. Not only is the pizza great, but the people and neighborhoods are an added bonus of friendliness, something NYC could learn about!

    • Jaisin
      June 17, 2021 / 7:50 pm

      Try Zuppardis Pizza in West Haven. I personally think its better than the others mentioned. Try the sausage pizza. The sausage is made in house.

      • Brigitte & Jake
        June 18, 2021 / 2:24 am

        Everyone is telling us that is the spot! Definitely going when we are back home (:

    • New Haven has the best pizza ever
      June 18, 2021 / 9:09 am

      Who are you trying to convince bud? Me…or you?

    • July 17, 2021 / 3:16 pm

      You must be from one of the outer boroughs (NOT REAL NEW YORK). New Haven produced the second pizza place in the US, (Lombardi’s at 57 and 1/2 Spring Street was the first, and Frank Peppe’s of New Haven puts them to shame). The little Italy of New Haven has a rich history of immigrants and food from the Amalfi coast. Electric oven pizza (AKA “New York Pizza” ) was actually started in New Haven. So was the American Hamburger. Unfortunately the infamous “Italian Grinder” was created in New Haven too, but that was butchered by a Bristol CT resident who created the abomination we know as Subway from it. Also bad pizza meaning “Greek Pizza” was unfortunately created and is still sold in New Haven as well. Unfortunately without that Greek American pizza abomination created in New Haven we would not have Dominos or Pappa John’s or any of the other grotesque pizza substitute s. Did I mention New Haven is one of the 3 hot dog capitals of the world as well!?! Or that the 23 years I lived in Manhattan there where only 5 great pizza places out of 5000!?!

    • Doug
      August 11, 2021 / 10:13 pm

      I’m from NY and while I love NY pizza the most… I just had Sally’s and it was phenomenal. Plenty of room for great pizza…except Chicago style. No pizza

      • Brigitte & Jake
        August 12, 2021 / 9:56 am

        Awesome! NY pizza is so good it’s hard to compare them. I just grew up on New Haven so I’ll always love it

    • Frank Antonucci
      August 31, 2021 / 3:56 pm

      Hi Danny! Grew up around Wooster St, now living in Mt P! Man are you right! I had to fly up to New Haven for my closest cousin’s funeral. Like my brother. I went to Sally’s, new owners, but still the best! Went to Modern & had an excellent pie!
      Tolli’s of East Haven, opened in John’s Island. Not Sally’s, but pretty dang good.
      Best to you

  10. Leo
    June 16, 2021 / 6:49 am

    I went to Ct and I was told by the train employee to stop at pepe’s so I went and to me it was not as good as he says I found no flavor in the bread, the cheese or the pepperoni sorry to disappoint but to me is not great or good, now I went to Marco Polo in downtown New Haven and to me it is flavorful pizza.

    • Brigitte & Jake
      June 16, 2021 / 6:56 am

      Everyone has their own taste when it comes to the pizza in New Haven! Can’t blame ya for liking one over the other. In our opinion they are all very good.

  11. Lorenzo Sonobuono
    June 13, 2021 / 1:01 pm

    They all are terrible. Their pies are undercooked and topping slides off. Best pie in the spare us original Colony Grill in Stamford.

    • Brigitte & Jake
      June 13, 2021 / 3:40 pm

      Love to hear how passionate people in CT are about their pizza! I think you’re in the minority saying New Haven pizza is terrible, but we’ll have to give Colony Grill a shot.

    • Martha
      June 18, 2021 / 5:56 pm

      I totally agree with your description of Pepe’s, Sally’s, and Modern! Wow, never found anyone else who thought that. My favorite New Haven pizza is
      at Bar especially the mashed potatoes one. –from: lived in New Haven for 40 years.

  12. Kenneth Lelacheur
    June 12, 2021 / 1:39 pm

    Thank you for this great article. I was a lifelong New Haven county Pizza (ah-beetz) eater. Sally’s, Frank Pepe, Zupardis, Modern, even Roseland in Derby and Bella Napoli in my old hometown of Milford, CT. Pizza is the main focus but alot of other great dishes from many local restaurants also have earned my respect and admonishment. I took for granted all my life that pizza would be pizza no matter where in my world of Connecticut I went… Then I moved to Minnesota. And Midwest pizza is NOT like New Haven pizza. They need to know New Haven pizza. To experience it. To learn how to make it. They need a New Haven Culinary School all across the country.

    • Brigitte & Jake
      June 12, 2021 / 2:29 pm

      So true! It’s the best pizza in the world in my opinion… But I’m super biased (:

    • June 15, 2021 / 6:59 am

      Did you know The Culinary Instuite of America. A legendary cooking school started in New Haven.. Now it is in Hyde Park N.Y. I know because when I went it was in New Haven. Thinking! Is that why the pizza is so good?

      • Brigitte & Jake
        June 15, 2021 / 11:30 am

        That’s interesting maybe. Also, there’s just a lot of Italian people who make really good food haha!

    • Glenn
      June 18, 2021 / 8:49 am

      Exactly. I moved to Maine many years ago and made that painful realization years ago myself. So when I go back to CT for visits it’s usually Zuppardi’s apizza or some whole belly fried clams and a dog at Jimmies, both in West Haven.

    • Jim Brewer
      June 19, 2021 / 5:59 pm

      So true, Kenneth. I moved to Sacramento, 20 years ago. Most of the patrons at the pizza joints in northern Cal. judge their pizza based on how thick the crust is or how non acidic the sauce is due to the sugar added to the sauce. They want cheddar and gruyere cheese on their pies that have a salad bowl or a bunch of fruit on them.
      I grew up on Pepe’s and would go to Modern if the wait was unreasonable. I miss “real” apizza. My Aunt Clara lived in the elder housing behind Roseland…..I need a trip home so I can eat some real food. I will go to Pepe’s and willstop by Libby’s for a cannoli that isn’t filled with whipped cream.
      I too took it for granted and didn’t know what I had until it was gone.

    • June 21, 2021 / 9:38 am

      I’m the same. I grew up in CT, and ate at Sally’s and Frank’s often and never realized after growing up and moving West that that would be the best pizza I’ll ever eat. I love reading these articles and sharing my memories with my family. The closest we have to good pizza out west is Marcos Pizza or you have to go to Vegas to New York New York (casino). I used to tell my family Pizza Hut is trash why do you eat that? That’s not even pizza! I would describe being younger and my father taking me to get a clam pizza on Wednesday nights and nothing in the world compares! Now New Haven is officially on the map and I am SO proud to having been raised on the best pizza EVER!

      • Brigitte & Jake
        June 22, 2021 / 5:47 am

        Right! There’s nothing that beats it in my opinion. You don’t realize it until you’re somewhere else!

  13. Martin Johnson
    June 10, 2021 / 9:47 pm

    Skip the long lines and ‘Soupman’ type attitudes at both Frank Pepe’s and Sally’s, and go to Modern Pizza on State Street nearby!

    The pizza is a good or better than the two overrated Wooster Square pizza dynasties!!

    • Brigitte & Jake
      June 11, 2021 / 8:03 am

      We loved Modern, too! So good

    • Andrea J Wentworth
      June 19, 2021 / 8:34 pm

      nother great pizza spot is Grand Apizza in Fairhaven, CT
      Just as good as the others!

      • Brigitte & Jake
        June 20, 2021 / 3:15 am

        Adding it to the list for next time we’re in CT!

  14. Stephen Mullin.
    June 8, 2021 / 9:29 pm

    Ernies on the west side of New haven is a contender. Bar in New haven is as well. Lotta great pie in the elm city.

    • Brigitte & Jake
      June 9, 2021 / 2:29 am

      Too many to count! Have had a lot of fun times at Bar, but need to try Ernies for sure.

    • Karen Zarkades
      June 19, 2021 / 1:45 pm

      Ernie’s on Whalley Avenue is #1 in New Haven. Let the tourists have the other places.

      • Brigitte & Jake
        June 19, 2021 / 4:00 pm

        Just out of curiosity… When did these New Haven pizza places become “touristy?” Was it in just the last few years, or do you feel it’s always been that way? Growing up I always thought of them more as more local joints, but I was always visiting family I am not originally from here.

  15. June 5, 2021 / 2:21 am

    Was up there last week with my daughter.We started out at Pepe’s,went to Sally”s,then to Modern.
    Lastly we went to Zuppardis.
    In my opinion Zuppardi’s was the best,without a doubt..But the way I’m from NJ, We have some very good Pizza also.Lidos in Hackensack.Barcelona’s in Garfield to name a couple…

    • Brigitte & Jake
      June 5, 2021 / 2:22 am

      Wow Zuppardis is getting a lot of love! NEED to try this now!

  16. Eileen misenti
    June 4, 2021 / 4:03 am

    Hands down Sally’s is the best but all are very good. Also a great hidden gem of a pizza joint try Roseland Pizza in Derby not too far from New Haven. Worth the trip!

    • Brigitte & Jake
      June 4, 2021 / 4:05 am

      We love Sally’s! We need to taste Roseland now. Getting so many great tips for new pizza places to try!

      • Jim Brewer
        June 19, 2021 / 6:05 pm

        Yes do try Roseland….mommy I can smell that place…..you get slapped the face with the beautiful aromas when you drive up to the place.

    • Frances Parker
      June 11, 2021 / 3:11 pm

      Over the last 60 yrs i have tried all the mentioned pizza places in New Haven and while they are all excellent my favorite when i visit family in CT
      my preference is Roseland in Derby which is close to New Haven
      My fsvorite is their Arugala pizza

      • Brigitte & Jake
        June 11, 2021 / 3:42 pm

        Wow that sounds amazing! Have to try it

  17. Matt Findley
    June 2, 2021 / 1:57 pm

    In addition to those 3 legends their is another amazing spit just over the New Haven line in West Haven CT Called Zupardis Apizzia, ive had all the New Haven pies and hands down Zup’s is the best! Give it a shot next time you’re in the area

    • Brigitte & Jake
      June 2, 2021 / 11:39 pm

      Wow we’ve never had Zupardis! Definitely will check that out sometime. Thanks!

    • jake caarerra
      June 3, 2021 / 12:08 pm

      Zupardi’s is in my old neighborhood. Great Apizza(Abeetz!)

      • Brigitte & Jake
        June 3, 2021 / 4:34 pm

        Awesome!! Can’t wait to stop in for a bite (:

  18. Michael Herzog
    June 1, 2021 / 1:08 pm

    I’ve been going to all three places my entire life. Sally’s is the best for me

    • Brigitte & Jake
      June 1, 2021 / 1:50 pm

      Same here! Sally’s is soooo good

  19. Salvatore
    June 1, 2021 / 12:16 am

    Frank Sinatra’s chauffeur was Sally’s brother. Needless to say he knew the family and ate there for years. Nothing to do with after a concert.

    • Brigitte & Jake
      June 1, 2021 / 8:29 am

      Good to know! Thanks for sharing

  20. June 1, 2021 / 12:07 am

    If you watch the documentary PIZZA A LOVE STORY you can learn the full history of these three places and pizza in New Haven. It’s streaming on TubiTV and on dvd.

    • Brigitte & Jake
      June 1, 2021 / 12:08 am

      Awesome! We will check it out

  21. Anthony
    May 31, 2021 / 7:45 pm

    Every town and neighborhood in the tri-state area has pizza restaurants and slice joints. You grow up with a style of pizza that becomes your favorite whether your from Brooklyn, Bed-Sty, the village, Patterson, Yonkers, etc. That said New Haven style pizza is good and worth the drive to sample the three or four most noted pizza places.
    I’ve been to Sally’s, Frank Pepe’s a couple of times and most recently Modern. Personally I like Modern Apizza best particularly their eggplant and their pizza Margarita. Ranking the three I would chose Modern, Sally’s then Frank Pepe’s, whose white clam pie which they are famous for, I’d take a pass on.

    • Brigitte & Jake
      May 31, 2021 / 7:50 pm

      So true! So much good pizza in the New York/New Jersey area. Need to try the eggplant at Modern next time!

  22. Janet
    May 31, 2021 / 4:44 pm

    I grew up on Sally’s pizza. My father knew the family personally before I was even born which was before 1969. He did tell me the story’s of Frank Sinatra visiting and being invited to New York for dinner with Sal to see him. But he never went.

    • Brigitte & Jake
      May 31, 2021 / 5:04 pm

      Then you grew up on some of the best! Amazing story, thanks for sharing ( :

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