While there are many connoisseurs of pizza who will fight us on this point, we do not believe that Modern Apizza of New Haven serves the best pizza on earth. In our book, it is only the second best on earth, after Pepe’s of New Haven … except on those days when Pepe’s has no clams for its white clam pizza, in which case we will gladly go to eat white clam pizza pie at Modern. Let us say it plainly: Modern Apizza is a fantastic four-star pizza parlor, and if you eat here rather than on Wooster Street, it’s about like winning only $100 million rather than $125 million in the Power Ball.
As for the New Haven favorite, white clam pizza (hold the mozzarella, please) Modern uses pre-chopped clams rather than freshly shucked ones, meaning there is less soulful marine juice to infuse the pizza; nevertheless, it is delicious – ocean-sweet and powerfully garlicky, and built on a crust that puffs up dry and chewy around the edges, but stays wafer-thin all across the middle. “Our brick oven reaches temperature in excess of 700 degrees,” Modern’s menu warns. “Some pizzas may blacken around the edges, and even lose their perfect shape due to contact with the brick floor of the oven.” Ok with us! While a few places around the edge may be charred, the whole pizza has a swoonfully appetizing smoky taste; and you see why when you devour slices off the paper on which the pizza rests atop its round pan. The paper appears strewn with charred little bits of semolina from the oven floor, most of which cling to the underside of the crust, creating a slightly burnt hot-bread flavor that no wussy metal-floored pizza oven could produce.
Modern’s specialty toppings include broccoli, sliced tomato, artichoke, and clams casino, which is clams, bacon, and peppers. It is also known for the Italian Bomb, which is a joy to eat despite the fact that it totally overwhelms its crust: sausage, pepperoni, bacon, peppers, onions, mushrooms, and garlic.
There is also a Vegetarian Bomb topped with spinach, broccoli, olives, peppers, mushrooms, onion, and garlic. One other reason we love Modern, sometimes even more than our beloved Pepe’s: it is open for lunch!