New Haven and pizza. A historic Connecticut city and the food eternally linked to it. When it comes to pizza, New Haven is the main stage. In fact, in some people’s eyes, it is the only stage. The city is filled with some of the most recognizable pizza brands in the world, names synonymous with the birthplace of one of America’s favorite foods. But then, there are the up-and-comers, the new guys, the Cinderella stories. If there was a pizza version of the 1990’s NYC hip-hop scene, New Haven would be it- an artistic battle fought not with rhymes and beats, but with crusts and toppings. We’re all aware of the Jay-Z’s and Biggie’s of the New Haven pizza scene, but today we stopped by one of the newest artists, poised to become part of one of the most well-known competitive food landscapes in the entire country.
Da Legna is located at 858 State Street, just a few buildings over from one of the most heavyweight New Haven pizza spots, Modern Apizza. Once inside, you are greeted by a truly rustic feel, exposed brick and softly lit wooden tables. You’ll notice immediately on the menu, just over the Da Legna logo, the phrase “Dedicated to Preserving the Trade.” Partner and Chef Dan Parillo told us he’s been making pizza since he was 13, when he learned how to use a wood fire oven from his grandmother in Caserta, Italy. Since then, he has spent the past 20 years perfecting one of the best sourdough crusts I have tasted in my days on this planet.
Dan sat me down and insisted I try three of his most popular pies. The first he brought out was the Margherita- a classic Italian pie with San Marzano tomatoes, Water Bufala mozzarella, basil, garlic, and extra virgin olive oil. Next he brought out the Rustica with oil cured olives, roasted red peppers, Danielle dry cured sausage, San Marzano tomatoes, and Burrata cheese. Finally, he absolutely blew my mind with the Honeypot pie, topped with San Marzano tomatoes, sliced hot pepper, onion, mozzarella, soppresata, and truffle honey (OMG!).
The first thing you notice about the Da Legna pie is the crust. Just the right thickness, the perfect char, and a light oil finish make for one of the best crusts I have ever tasted. Next you’ll notice the freshness of the ingredients, including the cheeses imported directly from Italy. But most of all, you’ll notice the love that is put into each and every pie that comes out of their oven. These are no simple pies. Each and every pizza Da Legna serves seems more like a piece of art than something made for you to eat.
When you’ve already eaten at all the big shows in town, you rarely find a new pizza that makes you say “Wow”- but Da Legna did just that. We asked Dan before we left, what it’s like being the new guy on the New Haven pizza scene. “It’s a dream come true, it’s like being on the big stage. I love seeing where we stand, being a part of the rich history, and most of all, keeping the tradition alive.” Go get yourself a Honeypot pie, and you’ll see why Da Legna is doing more than just keeping the history of New Haven pizza alive, they’re rewriting it altogether.
Eats: Honeypot Pizza
Info: 858 State Street, New Haven, CT 06511