A Taste of New Haven Tour is the Only Way to Try Apizza

Local Tour Guide Provides an All Access Pass to Try the Best Pizzas in New Haven

Colin Caplan, owner of Taste of New Haven and tour guide for the day proudly displays and discusses two Frank Pepe pies to the tour group as they hungrily look on and listen.
New Haven style pizza is something that I have wanted to try for years and visiting the city to try places like Frank Pepe's Pizza Napoletana, Sally's Apizza, and Modern Apizza have been bucket list items for me.  A variety of factors have prevented me from checking this goal off my bucket list, a few of which are travel distance to Connecticut, wait times at each pizzeria, and a very hectic and busy work and personal life.  This summer our family decided to take a mini vacation to New Haven, part of the trip being dedicated to trying a couple of pizzas so of course I was super excited about it.  My excitement quickly turned to stress and anxiety once I started doing some research about hours-long waits for some of the pizzerias.  I did not want to cannibalize a family vacation waiting in line for pizza so I started to try to figure out which one or two pizzerias we could dine at.  This became a very frustrating endeavor.

Long lines are a reality and way of life in waiting for Apizza in New Haven.  Here our tour group is able to walk right into Sally's to try a trio of delicious pies!
As I was researching the town in a variety of ways, I came across the instagram account Taste of New Haven who had posted a ton of New Haven Apizza pictures and I decided to message them to ask for some advice.  They responded quickly with some information and I found out that they also provide walking pizza tours throughout New Haven.  As much as I didn't like the prospect of waiting in line for pizza, I am sort of the anti-tourist and prefer doing my own thing and sitting in a booth catching the vibe of a place and doing my review.  After bothering Taste of New Haven with a million questions like any pretentious food blogger would and extensive conversations with my family, we decided to buy tickets for the family.  The cost for 2 adults, 1 twelve year old Pizza Princess, and a baby the tickets was $75 each with the Pizza Prince coming along at no charge.  On the front end, I thought $225 for basically one person with a big appetite might be a bit of a high price tag using my "make sure you get your money's worth at the seafood buffet" methodology, but I'll explain why $225 bucks ended up being the deal of a lifetime.

Colin explaining how many tourists don't know about Frank Pepe's "The Spot" which is the original site the Frank Pepe started.  It now resides adjacent to the main restaurant in the same parking lot.
Our day started out at 11:00 am at Frank Pepe's in New Haven.  We arrived early before the Pizzeria opened and noticed that a line had already begun to form on the sidewalk.  I figured it was fellow members of our tour group, but they were just people hungrily waiting for their Pepe's fix.  Colin, our guide and owner of Taste of New Haven, guided us right through the door and into an area of tables reserved for us.  The restaurant had not yet filled up, but it was awesome having reserved seats at a place I learned just 12 hours before relies on the honor system of self-policing the line outside.  Our VIP group assembled and Colin began to explain what the pizza exploration we were about to embark on would involve.  He hoped for our sake that we did not eat breakfast because we would be eating a ton of pizza today!  The tour included four different pizzerias and 3 different pizza tastings at each pizzeria for a total of 12 pizzas!  It also included beer sampling at each establishment along with an extensive history and background about the pizzerias and city.

Colin cautioning our group that the Modern Apizza just came out of the oil fired oven and it's way too hot to eat!
After hearing about the twelve different pizzas and seeing that we were eating regular-sized pizzas that were cut to normal size and not just small strips of pizza, I started to run the economics in my head.  My bill at Frank Pepe's the night prior for a white clam pizza and a tomato pie with mozzarella and drinks cost nearly $60 with tip and I only got to try 2 pizzas!  So if I divided $75 by 4 pizzerias, I only paid $18.75 per pizzeria, and only $6.25 per pizza with free beer included!  As the day went on and some people became more full, they were offering me their slices as well, so needless to say I had way more than my fill and was even able to take some slices home!  From a financial perspective, this tour was absolutely worth the money.  In fact, I would have paid the $225 for just myself to go!

Incredible architecture and historical buildings to see on Yale University campus and throughout the City of New Haven throughout the tour.
Besides getting my money's worth, there was significant value in the rest of the six hour tour.  Six hours may seem like a long time, but from my anecdotal survey of the lines in town it would be nearly impossible for a person to get in 4 different lines, order 12 different pizzas, and eat and enjoy yourself on a busy day.  I despise standing in lines so that arrangement would have never worked for me.  Taste of New Haven arranges for reserved tables for the group in advance and we had tables ready for us at every stop.  If you check out my story about our visit to Sally's Apizza on the tour, you'll see how much this preferred arrangement means to people.  In succession, we walked into Frank Pepe's, BAR, Modern Apizza, and Sally's Apizza with a combined wait time of ZERO minutes!  This helps you get the most out of your pizza eating time and enjoy the history and company.  We got to meet our fellow tourists and had great conversations as we played musical chairs throughout the day.

The Taste of New Haven Pizza Lover's Tour includes a specialty pizza at every stop.  Here we see a mashed potato and bacon pizza from BAR.  This type of pizza is quickly becoming a New Haven staple.
At each pizza stop along the way, we were asked to try each pizza (a tomato pie, a tomato pie with mozzarella, and a specialty pie of the guide's choosing) and remember our ratings for the end of the trip.  After we ate all 12 pizzas, the group took a series of votes to determine the winner.  I won't share the group's winner here, but you can check out this graphic to see how each pizza rated on my scale:

A summary of how each of the 12 pizzas scored at the 4 different pizzerias visited on our Pizza Tour.  See below for links to detailed reviews and ratings.
The graphic above details the overall scores that I gave each pizza consumed, but a lot more went into each singular score than simply issuing a number.  The crust, sauce, cheese, taste, crispiness/cooked properly, and value scores played integral parts in each score and you can find those ratings along with rationale by clicking the links below: 

I've talked about the pizza and value first because those are the two things that I tend to focus a little bit too much on in life and I happen to have an unhealthy fixation on both.  The other priceless dimension of the tour was actually the tour itself.  Not only did Colin provide a deep and well researched history of each pizzeria, he also expertly guided us through the culture, history, and architecture of the entire City of New Haven.  We learned about where notable businesses were formed, where the president of Yale University resides, which architects designed some of the iconic buildings, where a secret society gathers, and where Abraham Lincoln slept during his only visit to Connecticut!  We were captivated throughout the tour with all things New Haven and pizza.  Colin was an effective guide who tells vivid stories with fantastic context that are easy to relate to, understand, and digest.  We all gained a greater appreciation for the pizza, the city, the history and so much more during this tour.  Absent the tour, we likely would have hit up the IT Ropes Course down the street, ate at a pizza place or two, took a walk through Yale, and grabbed a souvenir or two on our way home.  With the tour, we felt like a part of the city and are left to tell the stories to our friends, family, and anyone reading this article!
Jim of NEPA Pizza Review grabs a quick selfie with Colin of Taste of New Haven after a successful pizza tour where Jim consumed 17 slices of pizza!
For a pizza blogger who generally is busy on the run and does his own thing, it was really nice to stop and smell the pizza, take in a ton of information and experience all that is around me.  It was even more amazing that the tour was family friendly and there was something for everyone.  I cannot envision a visit to New Haven without taking the tour and if it's your first time or tenth time in town, there is simply no better way to try the pizza than on a Taste of New Haven Tour.  We very much enjoyed our time and appreciated learning so much and devouring so much pizza.  For those interested, I destroyed an impressive 17 slices of pizza in 6 a six hour period!  You too can do the same so go check out Taste of New Haven, leave a comment, or message me with any questions about the trip!  And if you do happen to take the tour, make sure you tell them NEPA Pizza Review sent you!

Colin Caplan is also an accomplished author who has written "Pizza in New Haven" which provides accounts of 140 years of New Haven history - and of course PIZZA!  Below is an amazon associate link to his book.  Clicking will take you directly to the website.  NEPA Pizza Review will earn a small commission to help keep bringing you weekly pizza articles, videos, and more!


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