After an annoying day of work, a bothersome trip to the laundromat, and a necessary application of Rain-x on my car windows, some comfort food was in order. I had my heart set of Apizza Scholls over on upper Hawthorne. For those who don't know, Apizza is the New Haven pizza style. What does that mean? Hmmm...Wikipedia has this to say: "New Haven-style pizza, also known as apizza, [is] popular in southern Connecticut. It has a thin crust that varies between chewy and tender, depending on the particular establishment. The default version is a "white" pizza topped with only garlic and hard cheeses; customers who want tomato sauce or mozzarella cheese have to ask for them explicitly. Apizza has a very dark, "scorched" crisp crust that offers a distinctive bitter flavor, which can be offset by the sweetness of tomatoes or other toppings."
While I don't know that Scholls' "default" pizza is the white pie, they have one on the menu, and the crust descriptions are certainly accurate. Imported upskirt photo from their website:
See those charred spots? They do not taste burnt - they impart a smoky, deep flavor that I haven't experienced before. The crust is this perfect mix of chewy-crunchy with a malty-sweet-smoky taste. I really haven't had better anywhere.
Two things that are always mentioned in connection with Apizza Scholls are the wait and the rules. I will mention them, too. First off, the wait can be horrendous. Don't show up on the first balmy night of the summer at 6:30 - everyone else will be there, too, and you will wait 90 minutes to get seated. Space is limited. It is *much* better than it used to be, though, since they took over the space next door and outfitted it with another bar, a private dining space, 5 or so tables that can hold parties of eight, and a nice, comfy waiting area with window seats. The best way to go is to show up right at 5pm when they open. You'll either be seated right away or very soon. Now, there are rules for your pizza and they are in place for your own good. Only three ingredients per pizza. Only one meat per pizza. No, you cannot order pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms and olives. And you don't want to, really. It would mess up the delicate balance of crust+sauce+cheese+toppings. You want to taste the crust and sauce in every bite, don't you? Of course you do.
In my 3 or 4 visits in a year-and-a-half span, I've tried a few different pies. 'Margo'rita - Tomato sauce, mozzarella (whole milk & fresh), grana padano, pecorino romano, fresh garlic, extra virgin olive oil, fresh basil; Amore - the 'Margo'rita plus hot capicollo; Sausage - house made sausage!; Clams Casino - no longer on the menu, but I think it was a white pie with clams in the shell, guanciale (unsmoked bacon from the pig's jowl), garlic; and Tartufo Bianco - Mozzarella (whole milk & fresh), grana padano, pecorino romano with Truffle Oil & sea salt.
My favorite is the sausage with mushrooms, and second place is held for the Amore. Last night we ordered a half-and-half of both and I couldn't have been happier. I was glad to try the Clams Casino the one time. It's a very intense and rich flavor and I couldn't imagine eating more than one piece. Surprisingly enough, I didn't care for the tartufo. I love truffle oil, but this combination came off dry and salty for me. Some folks go ga-ga over it, so try if you think you'd like it.
[Sausage pie photo from the website]
The menu also features a great Caesar salad. Get the anchovies. If you're into it, the Barbera d'Alba Deltetto 2004 is a great match with any red-sauce pizza.
4741 SE Hawthorne Blvd.
Open Tuesday - Saturday 5 pm - 9:30 pm
Reservations taken for parties of 8-12 only; one per night