There are few things I enjoy as much as a good meal, but the majority of the time that doesn’t mean Michelin starred restaurants and reserve wine lists. Most often I’m talking about the food that no matter how often you eat it, you can’t get enough. The stuff that you crave. It puts you in a happy place and can make even the worst of days just a little bit better. It tastes good even when you’ve eaten too much of it, and you still contemplate having that one last bite. You can have it at the beginning of a good night out, but it also has the magical ability to cure a hangover. In my house, that food is pizza. Call me arrogant, but I feel that growing up in New Haven County gives me the right to be somewhat of a pizza snob. It’s no secret that New Haven is a pizza mecca, and I’m blessed to have it right in my back yard. For the avid Food Channel or Travel Channel watchers, New Haven is always highlighted in any show that talks about pizza and is ranked in numerous different publications as the go-to spot for a good pie.
In New Haven it doesn’t necessarily matter if you’re a Yankees fan or a Red Sox fan, Catholic or Jewish, Democratic or Republican, but what does matter is whether you are loyal to Pepe’s or Sally’s. Those that favor BAR or Modern share a similar neutrality as Mets or Jets fans do in NY sports. The rivalry between two of New Haven’s oldest pizza places has run for decades and is just as vibrant today as it ever was. If you’ve been to one or both of these places, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Starting with the line that wraps around the block, it is a true throwback in time with décor from the 50’s, old brick ovens, familiar staff and the menus which have likely never been changed. While my loyalty always lies with Sally’s, I will candidly admit that Pepe’s makes one heck of a white clam pie. However, the veteran New Haven pizza eaters will agree that the plain pie is not to be missed. In a small size only mind you, as anything larger jeopardizes the integrity of the thin crust and throws of the perfect dough to topping ratio. In most places, plain means dough, sauce and mozzarella cheese. In New Haven a plain pizza is dough and sauce (add a little grated parmesan at the table and you’re good to go). There is an art to simplicity, and Sally’s has nailed it.
There’s something special about a place that can serve something so simple and keep you coming back over and over again (not to mention draw crowds from all over the country). To me, Sally’s is the type of place where you go to eat as much pizza as you possibly can, and then take at least a small to go because, why not?! While it may not be decadent, expensive or critically acclaimed a meal at one of New Haven’s best is definitely unforgettable. I’ve always said that if I could choose my last meal now, I’ll take a small plain pie from Sally’s and a cold Foxen Park soda to wash it down.