A Luminous Halo

"Life is not a series of gig lamps symmetrically arranged; life is a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end." --Virginia Woolf

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Location: Springfield, Massachusetts, United States

Smith ’69, Purdue ’75. Anarchist; agnostic. Writer. Steward of the Pascal Emory house, an 1871 Second-Empire Victorian; of Sylvie, a 1974 Mercedes-Benz 450SL; and of Taz, a purebred Cockador who sets the standard for her breed. Happy enough for the present in Massachusetts, but always looking East.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Modern Apizza

Going to New Haven last Friday meant the chance to eat apizza. "Apizza" is local Italian American dialect for Neapolitan style pizza. Pepe's on Wooster Street (established in 1925) is the original and, in my opinion, the best, but I wasn't sure if it was open for lunch, so I suggested Modern on State Street, a place I've been meaning to go to for years. It's just hard to be in New Haven and not go to Pepe's.

New Haven apizza is baked in coal-fired ovens at 700+ degrees till the crust is slightly charred. It's topped with tomato sauce and maybe a little parmesan. NO Mozzarella! unless you order it that way. That's the original Pepe's tomato pie, anyway. Rival Sally's (est. 1938), also on Wooster Street, and Modern (est. 1934) a couple of miles away are similar.

We arrived before noon and got a booth with no trouble. I've never had that experience at either Sally's or Pepe's. An hour wait on the sidewalk is almost inevitable and deters no one, even in the worst weather.

Modern's menu featured, in addition to apizza, salads and calzones and grinders and even a few dinners. Pepe's has nothing but pizza. (It doesn't even have menus. Just a board on the wall.)

We got a pie with peppers on it. It was chewy and pretty good, but not as burned as I like it. Better than what you get here in town, but my loyalty to Pepe's remains unshaken.

I've eaten pizza in Boston, New York, Rome, even in Tehran (where it routinely comes with coins of bubble-gum-pink hot dogs). No less a food critic than Frank Stern has come to the same conclusion as I and about a million other people. Pepe's on Wooster Street in New Haven (where FS would choose to have his last meal, if it came to that) makes the best pizza in the entire world.

But if you're in New Haven and Pepe's is closed, Modern will do nicely.

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