This Is America's Pizzeria of the Year for 2023
There's no doubt that pizza is incredibly popular and it's easy to understand why. How can anyone resist the delicious dough, crispy crust, scrumptious sauce, ooey-gooey cheese, and tempting toppings? Of course, when it comes to the best of the best, the drool-worthy menu at one Connecticut establishment has earned it the title of Pizza Today's 2023 Pizzeria of the Year. Drumroll, please! Taking the crown from 2022's top spot, San Francisco's Tony's Pizzeria Napoletana, is this year's winner Modern Apizza.
No, that's not a typo. The New Haven eatery, which was founded in 1934 by Antonio "Tony" Tolli, serves what locals call apizza—a thin-crust pizza usually baked in a coal-fired oven that's typical for New Haven—and was originally called Tony's Apizza. Along with eventually getting a new name, it has also seen new owners step up throughout the years including William "Billy" Pustari who took over in 1988.
"History is still fully part of the Modern's spirit; vintage images line the walls and gazing eyes peering deep into the kitchen can see pizzas sliding in and out of the charred brick oven," according to the Modern Apizza website. "Longtime customers and families who are loyal to Modern will attest, Modern Apizza was, is, and will be their favorite pizza, and the only pizza that matters for generations to come."
Pustari seems intent on that, only making changes that improve upon the already beloved brick-oven pizzas. He told Pizza Today, "Ingredients have changed from 35 years ago, just buying better products."
This dedication has certainly paid off. Pustari noted that his establishment has been known to sell up to 1,100 pizzas in a single day. That's despite not offering delivery or using third-party apps to do business and sticking strictly with in-person dining.
If that sounds like Modern Apizza is the kind of place that takes its pizza seriously, it turns out that the same can be said for the entire area. State Representative Patricia Dillon (D-New Haven) and Sen. Gary Winfield (D-New Haven) even proposed that pizza be made the Official State Food of Connecticut. "When I got to New Haven, I said, 'I think I have to admit that this pizza's really good. New Haven, in particular, is amazing, it really is,'" Winfield, who hails from New York, explained to The Hartford Courant back in 2021.
If the bill ever passes, it will surely be thanks to establishments like Modern Apizza and the passion of those behind the food. As Pustari explained, "[It's] a labor of love. It's all I know. It's all I ever did."
Pizza lovers definitely appreciate the effort. When Modern Apizza announced on Instagram that it had been named the best pizzeria of the year, one fan responded by writing, "You're the pizza of the year every day and every year in my book @modernapizza!!!"
Another declared that "Modern is #1 in [the] USA, maybe the world." Now, that's high pizza praise, indeed.