|My wonderful Quinnipiac classmates, Genna and Lisa|
Zuppardi's is less of a tourist attraction than Pepe's and Sally's; it had the feel of a long-standing neighborhood pizza joint largely untouched by time. It didn't feel like a lovely relic of the 50s or 60s such as you might experience at Sally's, the now-shuttered DeLorenzo's of Hudson Street (reviewed HERE), or Philly's Tacconelli's (reviewed HERE). It was more of a 70s vibe, in all the best possible ways. Homey, not fancy, comfortable, unpretentious.
|Not a fancy kitchen!|
We had four adults, two small (and adorable) kids, and some pent-up appetite, so we ordered a lot of apizza. Because I was the only one keen on the clam pie, I chose a small. There were two clam pies on the menu -- whole baby clams for $11.50, and freshly-opened littlenecks for $22.75. A lot of money for a small pie, but when would I get this chance again?
|Click on any pic to enlarge for better details|
|This clam pie deserved three pics!|
The waitress steered us to the fresh-shucked clam pie, and asked if we wanted it "with mootz." I pondered the cheese question and asked how she recommended it, and unhesitatingly she said "no mootz." We gladly followed her suggestion.
|How to eat pizza and not burn the roof of your mouth|
We were a meat-pie bunch, so our other two pies (both large apizzas) included one sausage apizza and one that was half pepperoni and half bacon.
The clam pie was beautiful with a rich golden glow. Like other transcendent pizzas, its beauty was its simplicity and short list of ingredients, applied sparingly. I could detect nothing other than a brilliantly crisp thin crust, fresh-shucked clams, lots of fresh garlic, a touch of aged Italian cheese (Romano?), some topside moisture that was perhaps a mix of clam juice and olive oil, and a dusting of light herbs.
|iPad doubles as pizza plate|
The clams were tender, juicy, fresh, delicious. But they were mostly a flavoring agent, because the magic occurred when the garlic, oil, fresh clam juice, and aged cheese blended on the surface of that crust. In one sense, I felt like I was eating the best garlic bread I ever had.
That clam pie was world class, remarkable apizza, perfect in flavor and texture. Please read more about it in Ed Levine's review on Slice - SeriousEats, HERE.
Zuppardi's sausage is (according to Levine) house-made, and it was terrific. Not quite as good as the juicy chunks on a DeLorenzo tomato pie but superb and generously applied.
|The sausage apizza|
Both of the larger pies occupied that same classic old-school crust. Thin and crisp, but with excellent hole structure. It was not flat or cracker-like. The red sauce was tasty, but definitely a role player.
The cheese seemed to be traditional mozzarella ("mootz") and, for my tastes, there was a bit too much of it. It threw off the balance, weighed the pie down, and made it difficult for the crust to support each slice. Really a minor quibble, because this was delicious pizza, true in every way to the New Haven -- Trenton old-school style.
|Heavy cheese, tip sag|
|Bacon on left, pepperoni on right|
The pepperoni half of the other pie was covered with good if unspectacular slices of cured meat. The bacon half was generously covered with bacon slices intelligently cut into bite-size chunks, but we all agreed that it was under-crisped. I enjoyed the bacon slices more when at home I re-heated the leftovers under the broiler to get that bacon sizzling.
|Inventive at drinking, too!|
Zuppardi's Apizza is unquestionably destination pizza. The conventional pies may have been just a hair short of Sally's and Pepe's (but just as good as Modern Apizza). But a timeless neighborhood pizza joint with pie this good and no waiting? Priceless. And the clam pie HAS to be on your bucket list. It was that good.
|Even the box is charmingly old-school|