When one considers the Holy Trinity of New Haven pizza landmarks, Pepe’s, Sally’s and Modern Apizza, along with celebrated joints a little closer to home such as in Stamford, in Fairfield and in Norwalk, you might find justification to anoint Connecticut as the capital of pizza, New York and Chicago notwithstanding. And although we might not have a Wooster Street or Brooklyn to brag about, Patch reviewed and ranked an impressive and expansive list of pizzas right here in New Canaan.
Here they are:
Combining the same guiding principles laid forth by his father more than 4 decades ago with innovative twists and menu expansions, Lorenzo Collela of Joe’s Pizzeria churns out the best pizza in town. Whether you go simple with a cheese pie ($7.95 – S, 14.95 - XL), or spice it up a bit with the Joe’s Special, which loads up with mushroom, peppers, pepperoni, onion, olives, bacon, sausage and meatballs ($15.50 - S, 22.50 - XL), Joe’s consistently delivers (literally AND figuratively). Two pies stand out as their best; the pan-baked Grandma’s Square Pie ($18.99) with it’s rich and chunky tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella and basil, and the Potato Skinz ($14.99 – S, $18.99 – M, $19.99 – L, $21.99 – XL) with crisp skins, mozzarella and cheddar topped with bacon and scallions and a side of cream cheese. These might be the foremost party-pleasing pizzas in the area.
Another local family-run pizza joint, New Canaan Pizza is a perfect complement to the many thin-crust Italian options in town. Run since 1981 by current proprietor Tom Romas, New Canaan Pizza has been serving up pan pies for more than 35 years when Romas’ great uncle founded the establishment. The East Avenue hole-in-the-wall features a wonderful, crisp crust with an almost buttery flavor that puts their pizza right up with in Norwalk, and in Darien as the best Greek-style joints around. Try their fennel-laden sausage pie or go with an eggplant and onion pizza (both $7.75 – S, $13.50 – L). Whatever your preference, with more than a dozen toppings and a wide variety of gourmet pies from which to choose, this is a great place to grab some takeout when you’re looking for something a little different.
Cava is one of the better restaurants in town, and their pizzas follow suit accordingly. The Margherita pie ($12) is ideally simplistic and delicious, consistently executed in the wood-burning oven with a nicely charred crust, robust sauce and bubbling hot mozzarella. And while the pollo and funghi pie ($15) could benefit from a little extra seasoning, the sausage and broccoli rabe pizza ($15) is just right, loaded with fennel and layered with a broad depth of flavor and texture that will have you coming back for more again and again.
With its wood burning oven and use of quality ingredients, we headed to Sole with high expectations. And although the pies at this popular Elm Street Italian were not bad, we were a little underwhelmed by the offerings. Still, the pizza here is not without virtue, as the paper-thin, charred crust was consistently good across all pies, and some toppings, such as sausage and broccoli rabe ($1.50 each), worked well with the Pizza Bianca ($14). The Margherita ($14) stood up nicely on its own, but might have benefitted more from the use of fresh mozzarella or even burrata cheese instead of the standard shredded variety. So overall, not bad, but with everything Sole had at their disposal, we simply expected more.
We’d be lying if we told you Pinocchio’s Pizza was the best in town. Even so, with all the different varieties of pies at your disposal, you’re bound to find something you like…so it’s best to let your conscience be your guide. Featured prominently on the menu are their award-winners, including the Sicilian-style Brunello ($23) with olives, hot salami, sundried tomatoes, crushed San Marzanos and a nice combo of burrata and mozzarella cheese. Also worth a shot is the Chicken Marsala pie ($19), and for meat-lovers, the Bronx Special ($19) should suffice, topped with sausage, pepperoni, meatballs, ham and bacon. The Chicken Parm pie ($16-M, $19-L, $22-XL) was a great find, as the diced chicken cutlets blended nicely with the grated mozzarella and zesty sauce. Less successful was the highly touted Parma Salad pie ($21), which was too-much salad, too-little pizza. The main shortcoming we found with Pinocchio’s was with the crust, which was a little too dry for a full endorsement.
The pizza ($10-S, $12-M, $14-L, $16-XL) at the Veggie Barn benefits most from the liberal use of oregano, giving their thick-crust pies a nice finish and added depth of flavor. And while the lack of variety in their toppings ($1 extra for each) coupled with times when the cooks can be a bit heavy-handed with their use of garlic and salt, this Cross Street outpost has a strong and loyal fan base in town, having delivered pies to New Canaanites for almost a quarter century.
A popular destination for young New Canaan families since their arrival in town three years ago, the wide variety of pizza at this Ridgefield import was a nice surprise, and those that we sampled were relatively decent overall choices. Though the crust was a little too doughy and inconsistently cooked, the toppings at Fifty Coins were enough to satisfy most palates. So unlike many places on this list, you should feel free to pile on or order one of their specialty pies. Solid selections included the BBQ Chicken and Baked Ziti pies (both $14.99). The Meat Supreme (also $14.99) was good too, though they curiously omitted sausage from the roster of bacon, meatballs, and pepperoni. In fact, sausage is not even on their list of choices. Even so, there is enough here at Fifty Coins to keep most people happy … especially the kids.
Vicolo is one of the bigger spaces encountered on our pizza tour, making it a solid destination for a birthday party or little league gathering. The homemade pizzas at Vicolo are decent enough for the younger crowd, though adults may find them to be a little on the bland side. The crust is a little thicker than the other places in town, and they offer a good range of toppings. They also deliver…all nice pluses for an otherwise ordinary pie. We recommend the Vicolo special pie ($9.75-S, $14.75-M, $16.25-L), loaded with sausage, pepperoni, meatballs, peppers, onions and mushrooms).
As with the Patch , feel free to weigh in (no pun intended) and debate over your favorite places in town (please note, Lou and Christen Garcia’s homemade brick-oven pies do not yet qualify).