Transported to America via Italian immigrants, it’s a 32 billion dollar industry and a main staple in the American diet, a versatile, savory, well rounded, fast food, suitable for lunch or dinner, (sometimes cold for breakfast). It’s made by master chefs and lunchroom ladies and everyone has their favorite.
Giving rise to a more sophisticated, artisanal, adult style pizza, many pizzerias on the shoreline offer a diverse, eclectic array of pie choices that go far beyond the traditional cheese or pepperoni.
Location: 69 Main St. Chester, CT
Keeping things local, Otto serves up what they like to call farm to pizza style. Owned by chef and River Tavern owner, Jonathan Rapp, there is no question that Rapp’s foodie flare has been infused into the creative pizzas at Otto. Using locally sourced ingredients, the simple, thin crust pies are topped with fresh, handpicked vegetables and goods conveniently found at the weekly Chester Farmer’s Market, which is held right outside its doors, every Sunday from June to October.
With what locals call a “Chester Chill” vibe, the wood-fired oven, visible from the bar area, is a big draw, especially during the colder months, as the oven, which can cook a large pizza in less than 90 seconds, gives off a cozy warmness that customers crave.
Specialty pizzas, which change weekly, are always full of surprises at Otto, such as, their corn pizza made with fresh heirloom tomatoes, but their most popular pie is their favorite standby, the Margherita Pizza.
“We make it red, with basil and premium, top of the line, creamy Burrata mozzarella cheese, freshly made in Hamden, from Liuzzi Cheese. It melts into the top of the pie and creates a creamy goodness that is delicious,” explained Otto’s manager Connor Johnson.
Dessert: Homemade tiramisu.
Location: 1654 Boston Post Road Old Saybrook, CT
Talk about taking your work home with you! The Zemmel family, who has owned Alforno for the past 26 1/2 years, literally did just that. After sampling the exceptional taste of authentic Napolitano Pizza, at a trade show, the father and son team of Bob and Ben were all in, on the idea of learning, first-hand, how to make this appetizing pie. So, they flew a professional Napolitano chef over from Italy, housed him at their home for a week and learned from the master how to make their specialty pizza. Now, the restaurant is a certified maker of the 250-year-old version of this impressive, genuine, Italian pizza that transports customers on a savory trip to Italy with each bite.
“This is a very special process, which involves making the pizza dough in a very particular way, using finely milled, Pasini Italian 00 Flour. It is topped with Fior di Latte Mozzarella, which has a very mild taste. There is an eight hour window, after the dough is ready, during which it can be used, so we make it fresh daily,” explained Bob.
All the pizza pies (not just the Napolitano) at Alforno are cooked at a very high temperature, in an Italian style brick oven, which according to Bob bakes the crust faster so it stays moister.
Offering customers, like fame local chef Jacques Pepin, (a regular at the eatery) a variety of tastes of Italy, Alforno also has an extensive menu, which includes homemade pasta and house-made Bolognese sauce, as well as their freshly made bread, which takes three days to make, but it’s worth it!
Dessert: House made Key Lime Pie, Dario Cecchini’s Olive Oil Cake, Chocolate Torte, and Cannoli.
Location: 313 East Main Street Branford, CT
Phone Number: 203-507-2093
Making use of a repurposed ambulance, the owners of Marco’s Pizza Truck have transformed the old vehicle into a new branch of their pizza business. Their mantra is; “You invite the guests, we do the rest.” And they literally do!
From fresh ingredients, superb cooking technique, pizza stones, ovens, plates, cutlery, dessert and clean-up, the truck offers customers the unique luxury of enjoying their own party or event while Marco’s Pizza Truck does the rest.
Traveling to parties, graduations, anniversaries and more, the truck has everything the restaurant has. The ovens are outside and pizza is served up freshly made under a convenient awning. Guests are encouraged to create new concoctions and experiment with different flavors.
“It’s kind of fun to see what people come with, they create some great pizza’s,” said Mike Katz, who bought the Marco’s Pizza business three years ago with his wife, father and uncle, after the family had been loyal patrons of the pizzeria, for the past fifteen years.
“It makes it even better that we got the opportunity to buy a business we loved so much,” said Mike with a smile.
The pizza truck has been so successful it was voted Best Pizza Truck 2018 by CTNOW Readers Poll.
Using hot pizza stones and a gas oven, Marco’s makes Wooster Street style thin crust pizza and offers up gluten-free options if needed, as well as, the opportunity to use your own ingredients if you have dietary restrictions.
Dessert: Nutella and Cannoli cream pizza.
Location: 1067 Boston Post Road, Guilford CT
Owned by Melissa Pellegrino and Matthew Scialabba who are travelers, foodies, chefs, authors and pizza lovers, Bufalina is named after their signature pizza, which they discovered in Italy, while gathering information and recipes for their first book, “The Italian Farmers Table.” Both natives of Guilford, the couple spent time in Italy getting their hands dirty in the trenches of Italian cooking and have brought that knowledge and experience back home to the dinner table.
The charming ambiance of Bufalina is a juxtaposition of modern and rustic décor creating an intimate place where locals like to gather. Serving what Melissa defines as a cross between a traditional Neopolitan style pizza and New Haven style pizza, Bufalina’s pizzas are on a path all their own.
Changing their menu seasonally, the couple uses fresh ingredients to create unique tastes. Fall’s specials include a pear pizza and a mixed mushroom variety; however, the Tre Carne (three meat) pizza and the Bufalina are main staples no matter the time of year.
Using ingredients from Mystic Cheese and fresh imported daily from Italy, Mozzarella De Buffalo, (water buffalo milk) the husband and wife team are hands-on creators of their pizzas and can be found working side by side most nights.
The pizza oven is also an Italian import and a representation of how hard the couple works to recreate a taste of Italy in Guilford. “I think what sets our food apart and our business is that we are here making the food ourselves,” said Melissa. “We love what we do and we try our best always to make interesting, great tasting food that people will enjoy.”
Dessert: Exclusive specials from Hen and Heifer and Cannoli Pizza.