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Sally's Apizza

Ellen Shapiro

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After a conference I will attend next weekend in New Haven, I am organizing a group to hit this legendary pizzaria. At the moment we are six and growing.

Any advice as to how to psych out the wait on a Saturday night. Any times that will be absolutely disaster? I assume that they take no reservations, even for a large party. Anybody know different?

Another alternative would be to order take-out and bring it back to the hotel in downtown New Haven, a few minutes drive away, but then we would miss the ambience!!!

Anything fresh and seasonal on the menu in November?

Here's an idea: pumpkin pizza. Or what to do with left-over Halloween candy. And at the end of the month, what to do with left-over Turkey Pizza Turkey Tettrazzini, somehow that Italianness of it all makes sense.

Thanks in advance for the advice.

For those who don't remember it here is a link to the last major discussion of Sally's Apizza


complete with eyebrow singeing photos by Ellen Shapiro.

That one focussed more on pizza ovens than pizza getting protocol. I need practical advice on how to jump the queue.

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I think it opens at 5:00 and the conference won't end until 5:30 at the earliest so that solution won't work. However I did hear that it is possible to make reservations. We will be at least 6.

I have been trying their number 203-624-5271 off and on for the past hour or so and it is constantly busy so I am unable to confirm that can anyone esle?

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The Sally's reservations policy is shrouded in mystery. On the one hand, they definitely accept some reservations. They even have little "Reserved" signs to place on tables if they need them. On the other hand, it's not totally clear what the policy is. They usually stop answering the phone by the time they open, they may or may not give you a reservation if they don't know you, and the reservations seem to be honored kind of loosely and informally. Indeed, this may all be totally dependent on who answers the phone and how the conversation goes. I have been the beneficiary of reservations at Sally's; at the same time there have been instances when, despite our best efforts, attempted advance planning, and a lot of creative resources, Ellen and I have been completely and utterly unable to avoid waiting an hour and a half for a table. So, we've waited. The pizza is the same, and the line ritual is tolerable if you have a sense of humor.

The pizzas don't travel very well -- this seems to be universal for coal-oven pies -- so I'd avoid takeout. I think you'd be better off going to Pepe's or Modern than getting takeout from Sally's. I'm not sure of the policies at Pepe's and Modern, but they tend to be somewhat less idiosyncratic than Sally's (though also somewhat less delicious).

You never know until the day-of what seasonal-type stuff they'll have, and it's not always the case that they use only seasonal stuff. Sometimes out-of-season produce comes in from another hemisphere or whatever and they do fresh tomatoes in winter. They're pretty selective, so if they decide to do something out-of-season chances are it will taste as though it's in season. That being said, the most likely candidate right now would probably, I think, be broccoli rabe. Also the zucchini-and-yellow-squash-with-onions pie might be available. Both are terrific. (Note, both of those are preferable as white pies with mozzarella plus the veg, no red sauce.) It's probably too late for local fresh tomatoes; then again my father-in-law had tomatoes on his vines in his garden in New Haven into October so who knows?

The must-have pies that are always available are, in my opinion, red-mozz-sausage and white-mozz-olive-onion. These give you a really good feel for Sally's. Typically when we go with the in-laws we'll get those two plus whatever special they're offering. I know it will sound amazing, but if you are serious eaters then count on AT LEAST half a LARGE pie per person in your group. People eat a lot of this stuff.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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After several days of phoning at different times of the day and night, I finally got through this afternoon at about 3:15. They took a reservation for a party of 8 at 8:30, the earliest available on Saturday night.

Now we will see what happens when we get there.

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Up-date on Sally's Apizza:

By Saturday night our party of 8 for 8:30 PM had grown to 10. Compulsively I had followed up my phone reservation with a letter -- mailed not faxed. On the Saturday in question when I realized that we had grown to 10, I drove by the place shortly before it opened and double-checked that we would have no problem.

My advice is forget the phone, show up and make the reservation in person.

We showed up shortly before the time. We were seated at around 8:40, jumping the line of about 15 or so that had formed in the cold night outside.

The ten of us were mostly out-of-towners, but three were from New Haven and had not been to Sally's in more than a decade or so. They had given up since they thought reservations were impossible and they could not bear the line.

All felt the hype was justified, though the more curmudgeonly didn't think the pizza was good enough to have waited for 30 minutes plus outside in the cold. A fifteen minute wait would have been justified.

The real wait took place inside. Although we ordered very quickly after sitting down, it took about 30 to 40 minutes for the pizza to arrive. The drinks arrived more quickly, beer and soft-drinks, no wine available. I can't imagine they would notice if one BYOBed the wine.

The ten of us could not manage Fat-Guy's recommended ration of half a pie per person, but we did manage three large pizzas and two medium size, about the equivalent of 4 large ones. We were about three small slices short of finishing the whole thing.

The pizza is superb. The quality is evident in that first pite of the toppings on top of the delicate thin crust. Of course the whole thing is so hot that you can barely taste it at first, but gradually the experience overwhelms. It is better than the Spot which I tried a few years ago.

We had one tomato-garlic (no mozzarella), my favorite. Potato, no mozzarella, with rosemary, a bit disappointing. It should have had some onions and a bit more olive oil. I had a similar pizza at Berkshire Baking Company in the Housatonic section of Great Barrington over the summer and their version had a more assertive flavor. The others were: 1) sausage, cheese, red sauce -- quite good, though it appears that the pepperoni pizza gets a more generous dusting of meat than the sausage, 2) tomatoes and onions with mozzarella no sauce, quite good, though I would have liked the onions cooked to the point of a slight browning, and 3) black olives with red sweet peppers, mozzarella, and red sauce.

The least was my last favorite largely because I dislike California canned balck olives. Had it been made with kalamata or another Mediterranean variety, Alfonso perhaps, it would have been much tastier, but unfortunately in the States everyon seems to use the black California, a adull variety.

Our waiter, Lorenzo, announced that we looked like a bunch of physicists -- not a bad guess since the number-crunching economic historian in our midst did have the eccentric white-hair and open shirt under winter coat of a refugee from Albert Einstein-land. The rest of us just looked like run of the mill academics.

As for the other staff of the restaurant, they had the flare and panache of the crew of a pirate ship, the over-rouged and bandy-legged manageress, the pizza oven worker with a wild mustache and a delight in playing with the firing oven, the pizza maker with a slightly wild look in his eye. They took pride in what they were doing and managed to keep a sense of humor about the whole thing.

Well worth the visit. We left stuffed.

My local informant explained that New Haven pizza is actually Amalfitano in origin -- apizza or apizz being the way the thing is pronounced in Amalfi. The thin crust style is also distinctive to that region.

Edited by VivreManger (log)
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For the life of me, I have never tried Sally's Apizza in New Haven, even though I have been a life long resident of CT. I was brought up a Pepe's child, and have grown into an oversized Pepe's adult! Though I have not been there for some time, I will have to try it out just to say I have. I do know Tony and Lucilles across the street isn't half bad last time I was there, and Abates is a good priced decent food neighboorhood place. But skip the Italian pastry joint there, there is much better in other parts of NH, snd Fairfield county as well!

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Though I have been in the neighborhood many times, I have not tried the Italian pastry shop down Wooster St. on the same side as Sally's. I should note that it was crowded on Saturday, but not as packed as Mike's in Boston's North End can get.

I must have tried Pepe's in the past, but that was at least thirty or so years ago and my recollections are not clear enough to render an informed comparison. On the other hand, Pepe's offshoot, The Spot, I have tried recently enough to conclude that it is inferior to Sally's.

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  • 6 years later...

Lived on Wooster street for years,

I'll take Sallys, except I eat more Pepes because of their hours, and there is one in my hometown, Manchester. That Pie is good, but I seriously know its not Sallys or the original Pepes. Plus they slice the mozz way to thick and you really notice it on the clam pie.

There was a restaurant on Dixwell ave in New Haven called the "Venice" been closed for years, but that Meatball pizza was as good as any other. There are also some great pies in East Haven, Tollis and Minivernis.

Pepes has a great topping in their Pepperoni, it is like nowhere else.

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