Helpful ReplyHistory of Pizza in CT?

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wingmanBBF
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2015/06/16 09:53:22 (permalink)

History of Pizza in CT?

TinTinCT's recent thread about the joys of CT pizza has raised an interesting question.
 How did li'l old CT become such a mecca for great pizza?
 
 About thirty years ago,  I started asking restaurant owners about their  history.
I have an answer...... but I truly don't know if it's THE answer.
 
 Perhaps my fellow roadfooders can help separate fact from legend.
 
I've been told that the two greatest factors were Stanley Tools and International Silver.
In the nineteenth century, before mechanization, tools and silver were made not by machines, but by skilled artisans who had apprenticed for years to learn their trade.
As the US grew West and the population exploded, Stanley saw the need to start recruiting skilled tool makers where they were...in Poland and Italy.
 
To this end, Stanley and soon International opened recruiting offices in various cities in both countries.
These skilled artisan immigrants came to the US under very different circumstances than the standard, destitute, Lower-East-Side, huddled masses.
Rather than having to work their way up, these craftsmen arrived at our shores with a good job, good pay, and almost instant middle class status compared to their fellow countrymen.
Naturally, these immigrants formed communities close to the plants in Meriden and New Britain, and were followed by tailors, butchers, bakers and other purveyors anxious to serve this new community of middle class countrymen.
 
One old gentleman whom I met at the bar,years ago at Verdolini's in Meriden, told me that the Bakers were the most prolific...and a glut of bread bakeries created a crisis of competition, particularly in the Italian community, causing many to fail.
 
Those that survived were either master pastry chefs or those few creative bread makers, who augmented their income by flattening excess bread dough, covering it with tomato sauce and a little grated cheese, and selling it to factory workers as an inexpensive portable lunch-pail item that could be quickly eaten while standing and tasted fine at room temperature.
 
This convenient factory lunch item flourished, and eventually became the major income for some bakers,  spawning dedicated pizza makers, whose roots were in the same quality and attention to detail of master bread makers....and the rest, as they say, is history...
 
I truly can't confirm or deny any of this, but the same old gentleman went on to say that this concept did NOT come from Italy, but in fact, emigrated from these bakers through relatives back to Naples where Italy soon claimed pizza for its own.
 
I'm not just a little skeptical, particularly about pizza being invented in CT, but I'd love to hear from the more worldly scholars of food history that populate the board.... 
 
Thanks in advance for finally clearing up my very-old question....
 
post edited by wingmanBBF - 2015/06/16 11:08:13
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leethebard
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Re: History of Pizza in CT? 2015/06/16 12:20:04 (permalink)
That story contradicts most historical records...and at least we know REAL pizza came from Italy,Naples....and is still served in Manhattan and the other areas of NYC. I've eaten pizza near New Haven and it's no better than NYC pizza,in my humble opinion. Come on NYC pizza lovers. Let's start a thread about great NYC pizza...... no Pizza did not begin in Connecticut....or wait maybe that was pasta.......
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lleechef
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Re: History of Pizza in CT? 2015/06/16 12:23:41 (permalink)
I much prefer New Haven pizza to the floppy, fold-it-over NYC style.
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wingmanBBF
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Re: History of Pizza in CT? 2015/06/16 12:41:50 (permalink)
leethebard
That story contradicts most historical records...and at least we know REAL pizza came from Italy,Naples....and is still served in Manhattan and the other areas of NYC. I've eaten pizza near New Haven and it's no better than NYC pizza,in my humble opinion. Come on NYC pizza lovers. Let's start a thread about great NYC pizza...... no Pizza did not begin in Connecticut....or wait maybe that was pasta.......


I'm not trying to start a pizza range war, here...and I'm not saying where or who makes the best pizza.....
 
Just looking for someone with knowledge, not just opinion, to share some history with us....
 
Then again, since you threw the gauntlet, LTB....with the exception of John's, Patsy's, and a very few others, the pure greed of NY pizza businesses has evolved it into nothing more than cardboard crust, a little Campbells tomato soup and too much disgusting cheese product....
 
WingmanBBF
 
post edited by wingmanBBF - 2015/06/16 15:39:39
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rudebarb
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Re: History of Pizza in CT? 2015/06/16 13:33:41 (permalink) ☄ Helpfulby wingmanBBF 2015/06/16 15:31:20
Actually, while there are many pizza parlors in NYC very few are any good--featurless crust and industrial quality cheese, sauce, and toppings are unfortunately the current norm.
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Michael Hoffman
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Re: History of Pizza in CT? 2015/06/16 13:53:59 (permalink)
leethebard
That story contradicts most historical records...and at least we know REAL pizza came from Italy,Naples....and is still served in Manhattan and the other areas of NYC. I've eaten pizza near New Haven and it's no better than NYC pizza,in my humble opinion. Come on NYC pizza lovers. Let's start a thread about great NYC pizza...... no Pizza did not begin in Connecticut....or wait maybe that was pasta.......


Everyone knows that the first pizza in American was made and served in Gary, Indiana shortly after World War II. But that aside leethebard, my friend, you didn't actually have New Haven apizza. I have eaten my share of apizza in New York and I have no complaints about it at all. I've enjoyed almost every bite. Still, I've never had any as good as something from Pepe's, Sally's, the old Spot, or what used to be State Street Apizza, now called Modern.
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leethebard
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Re: History of Pizza in CT? 2015/06/16 14:18:58 (permalink)
Oh yeah,Gary Indiana,
.Pasta was Deluth. No I never ate at Pepe's, and I've got to try their clam pie, but I've eaten pizza around the world in man,many locations...and for shear number of super locations,this pizza lover will take NYC. And we call it pizza not what decades ago some one heard an Italian say " a pizz". Hell the Italians up there know a good thing,and even their places latched on to the moniker.
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leethebard
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Re: History of Pizza in CT? 2015/06/16 14:20:49 (permalink)
Meanwhile,back to my original post,pizza did not originate in Connecticut!!!!
 
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Re: History of Pizza in CT? 2015/06/16 15:11:28 (permalink) ☄ Helpfulby wingmanBBF 2015/06/16 15:25:47
leethebard
Meanwhile,back to my original post,pizza did not originate in Connecticut!!!!
 


 
the ORIGINAL post never claimed that it did either. Only ask about origins of Connecticut pizza. Not once was the claim made that it originated there. And does it make a flying monkey where it started? 
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wingmanBBF
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Re: History of Pizza in CT? 2015/06/16 15:30:04 (permalink)
fishtaco
leethebard
Meanwhile,back to my original post,pizza did not originate in Connecticut!!!!
 


 
the ORIGINAL post never claimed that it did either. Only ask about origins of Connecticut pizza. Not once was the claim made that it originated there. And does it make a flying monkey where it started? 


Thanks, FT. 
The original post is just a story I heard, and the question it posed....no more..no less...and the monkey's only for historical curiosity.....not monkey brain surgery....
BTW it's nice to see that there are still posters on this board who read the entire post before replying...
 
post edited by wingmanBBF - 2015/06/16 15:43:08
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Michael Hoffman
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Re: History of Pizza in CT? 2015/06/16 16:31:51 (permalink)
leethebard
Meanwhile,back to my original post,pizza did not originate in Connecticut!!!!
 


Of course it didn't. Actually, it originated with the Greeks, as the Greeks were the first known to place any toppings on their version of flat breads believed to have been oils and dates. And since Naples was originally Greek it can be said that pizza sort of originated in Naples. Here in the United States New York City is the most serious contender for the original home of pizza. I believe it was in 1905. Then comes New Haven in 1925, when Frank Pepe, speaking in his native Maiori dialect began selling apizza.
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leethebard
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Re: History of Pizza in CT? 2015/06/16 17:59:58 (permalink)
Interesting MH.
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Glenn1234
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Re: History of Pizza in CT? 2015/06/16 20:44:17 (permalink)
leethebard I've eaten pizza near New Haven and it's no better than NYC pizza,in my humble opinion.



 
Which place did you try "near" New Haven?  Depending on which place, it might or might not be actual New Haven style.  Most people who have tried actual New Haven style pizza/apizza think it's the best they've had.    
 
Glenn
 
 
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Re: History of Pizza in CT? 2015/06/16 22:25:03 (permalink)
Glenn1234
leethebard I've eaten pizza near New Haven and it's no better than NYC pizza,in my humble opinion.



 
Which place did you try "near" New Haven?  Depending on which place, it might or might not be actual New Haven style.  Most people who have tried actual New Haven style pizza/apizza think it's the best they've had.    
 
Glenn
 
 




Glenn
 
I suspect you will not receive a response. Another forum member asked this "poster" the same question about where he goes locally for pizza, and of course there was nary a response.
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wingmanBBF
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Re: History of Pizza in CT? 2015/06/16 22:55:43 (permalink)
Thanks, MH, for clearing up the issue of where pizza was invented...and, no, I never believed pizza was invented in CT...But I'd love someone, who knows, to comment on the other aspects of the story I was told about pizza proliferation and development in CT.
 
Just as I never believed that CT invented pizza, so do I not believe that ALL things come from that eternal wellspring of taste and sophistication, NYC.
 
Certainly almost all of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century immigrants came through Ellis Island, and, therefore, from NYC, but does that mean pizza, absolutely, migrated from NYC as well?
Does anyone have knowledge of the early twentieth century CT bakeries...Did Stanley and International have recruiters in Poland and Italy?...or is the entire story just myth and legend?
I do know there are still some CT Italian pastry bakeries today that make "tomato pie", thin, bread/crust pizza with grated cheese only..i.e.  http://www.giovannispastry.com/  . This might lend some credence to, at least, part of the story, but...Please...This is all a question...not a pronouncement...
I'm looking for information...not to start a war...
 
WingmanBBF
 
post edited by wingmanBBF - 2015/06/17 06:38:09
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leethebard
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Re: History of Pizza in CT? 2015/06/17 00:17:09 (permalink)
wanderingjew
Glenn1234
leethebard I've eaten pizza near New Haven and it's no better than NYC pizza,in my humble opinion.



 
Which place did you try "near" New Haven?  Depending on which place, it might or might not be actual New Haven style.  Most people who have tried actual New Haven style pizza/apizza think it's the best they've had.    
 
Glenn
 
 




Glenn
 
I suspect you will not receive a response. Another forum member asked this "poster" the same question about where he goes locally for pizza, and of course there was nary a response.


Thanks Wanderingjew for another crack about me (what the hell did I ever do to you.)...well you are getting a response from "this poster"...I ate at a pizza establishment on a stop from a visit to Mass....and I DON't remember its name......I don't record my meals or take pictures,,,.and "this Poster" (I have a handle....it's LEETHEBARD...has talked a lot about local pizza around here....and pizza in general ,which is my passion..Deninos here in Brick...the owners of the Famous Deninos of Statin Island......Azzurros a local pizzeria that gets high marks...and many in our trips to NYC.I'm glad THIS POSTER had a chance to clear this up. If you want to send me a private post and explain what I ever did to you,I'd love the opportunity to respond.Suffice it to say.my sample was indeed small in New Haven, but I have eaten pizza often in my 69 years around the world,and like I said above,I look forward to some day Trying Pepes, and I have no doubt it will live up to it's reputation.
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TnTinCT
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Re: History of Pizza in CT? 2015/06/17 08:29:34 (permalink)
Sigh. It makes me sad when a nice thread about pizza turns into a ridiculous pissing match. If you're not commenting on the topic, why just come on and make a fuss? This is the one thing that really turns me off about this site.
 
Back to the nice topic of pizza and CT - I did read (albeit a while back), that surprisingly Connecticut had the largest population of people (per capita) claiming to be of Italian origin than any other state in the US. I do know that Italian restaurants are everywhere - my mother-in-law lives in a small town in western CT - there are maybe 12 restaurants in town, and I think 10 of them are pizza/Italian, and most of them have been there for years. When my sister brought her mother-in-law up from Alabama to spend some time, we created a game in the car and everyone would yell "pizza!" when we passed restaurants with that name - it was amazing when you were actually looking for it how many we have here. Based on the sheer number of pizza places available here, it was likely that we would have some that are just far superior with all the competition!
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wingmanBBF
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Re: History of Pizza in CT? 2015/06/17 09:17:35 (permalink)
TTCT, I found the same fact about CT and Italians researching pizza...amazing...I always saw Brooklyn, Northern NJ, Providence and Boston as far more Italian than CT...at least by perception....
And my particular amazement is the variety of pizza in CT.
I've never seen Greek Pizza anywhere else...just Greeks making NY street pizza...the flat folding kind......
There's also a wide variety of Italian pizza....crust thickness, stretch, sauce thickness and volume....cheese under/over sauce and toppings, cheese type and volume.....and I mean, only in true pizzarias that have been around for years....not the New American, appetizer-menu "Flatbreads"...
There are even a few places that make the NY style flat, folding pizza
The number of pizzarias seems endless...
But, since I've already hijacked my own thread, does anyone know of a truly genuine deep dish pizza(casserole/pizzarole) in CT to the standards of Molinari's or the original Uno.......not the frozen-crust, fern-bar Uno's satellites?
 
post edited by wingmanBBF - 2015/06/17 10:56:37
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ann peeples
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Re: History of Pizza in CT? 2015/06/17 10:03:13 (permalink)
All I know is  CT is THE place I want to have pizza if I get to the east coast....
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Michael Hoffman
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Re: History of Pizza in CT? 2015/06/17 11:35:18 (permalink)
TnTinCT
 
 
Back to the nice topic of pizza and CT - I did read (albeit a while back), that surprisingly Connecticut had the largest population of people (per capita) claiming to be of Italian origin than any other state in the US.




A few months ago I was looking up something and happened to find a report that said in the year I was born in New Haven Italians made up the majority of the city's population.
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lleechef
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Re: History of Pizza in CT? 2015/06/17 11:57:48 (permalink)
Michael Hoffman
TnTinCT
 
 
Back to the nice topic of pizza and CT - I did read (albeit a while back), that surprisingly Connecticut had the largest population of people (per capita) claiming to be of Italian origin than any other state in the US.




A few months ago I was looking up something and happened to find a report that said in the year I was born in New Haven Italians made up the majority of the city's population.


Really?  In 1492?  Must have been Christopher Columbus and his gang.
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Michael Hoffman
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Re: History of Pizza in CT? 2015/06/17 12:14:33 (permalink)
Columbus never made it to North America. Maybe it was Vespucci, Oh, wait. He was from Firenze, not Napoli, where the apizza came from, so it couldn't have been him.
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mlm
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Re: History of Pizza in CT? 2015/06/17 13:18:51 (permalink)
You know, I love to read about food and I love to eat but hate to cook. I confess I have little or no experience with many of the foods discussed on this website, and am unlikely to ever have much experience in them because I live in a fast food stuffed college town with very little extraordinary food offered, and I have a number of disabilities which inhibit travel and driving long distances or in heavy traffic. My chances of making much of the fantastic food you all have experienced are only slightly greater, relying, as I do, on grocery store offerings. Neverless, I am deeply interested in what is posted here and have a vivid imagination so I can love what I see and read. It is refreshing not to have to take sides so I can dodge cat and dog fights and wait to get back on topic. I'm here and interested and I'm not leaving. What I say in most posts, may not be profound but I am as honest as I can be and try not to claim more than I know. Having admitted my ignorance and lack of experience, I will say that I try to follow a saying that goes, 'better to remain silent and risk being thought a fool than speak and remove all doubt'.
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Davydd
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Re: History of Pizza in CT? 2015/06/17 15:53:58 (permalink)
Dammit! Don't make me settle this. I may just have to pass through Connecticut this fall and check them out.
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Michael Hoffman
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Re: History of Pizza in CT? 2015/06/17 15:58:46 (permalink)
Try to avoid rush hour on I-95 from the New York line through Bridgeport. Oh, and it's rush hour on that stretch 24-7.
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wingmanBBF
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Re: History of Pizza in CT? 2015/06/17 19:06:55 (permalink)
mlm
You know, I love to read about food and I love to eat but hate to cook. I confess I have little or no experience with many of the foods discussed on this website, and am unlikely to ever have much experience in them because I live in a fast food stuffed college town with very little extraordinary food offered, and I have a number of disabilities which inhibit travel and driving long distances or in heavy traffic. My chances of making much of the fantastic food you all have experienced are only slightly greater, relying, as I do, on grocery store offerings. Neverless, I am deeply interested in what is posted here and have a vivid imagination so I can love what I see and read. It is refreshing not to have to take sides so I can dodge cat and dog fights and wait to get back on topic. I'm here and interested and I'm not leaving. What I say in most posts, may not be profound but I am as honest as I can be and try not to claim more than I know. Having admitted my ignorance and lack of experience, I will say that I try to follow a saying that goes, 'better to remain silent and risk being thought a fool than speak and remove all doubt'.


Mim,
Your post is both touching and educational. Those of us who are blessed to be able to roam the countryside, dine, explore, sample and then argue about where and what's best should recognize that our ability to do so is, in itself, a great blessing.
Further, we should be more aware of the lurkers...board-speak for those who choose to stay silent....and the impression we leave with our ranting board arguments and petty bullying that can sometimes make us look like children arguing over schoolyard turf.
I've not yet had the privilege to meet other Roadfood board members in person, but my experience on other boards affirms that....we're all much more argumentative on the board than in person.....most of it just well-disguised, tongue-in-cheek ribbing.
In fact, I 've already gotten a PM from one of the antagonists in this very  thread, apologizing for misunderstanding my original post...We agreed that we're both Curmudgeons.....
Certainly digression from topic is a distraction...Fortunately, it's usually a detour you can bypass until the topic returns....
So I'll ask again....any true Chicago deep dish in CT, Mass, or RI?
 
post edited by wingmanBBF - 2015/06/17 19:13:29
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Michael Hoffman
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Re: History of Pizza in CT? 2015/06/17 20:10:04 (permalink)
One can only hope there is not.
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wingmanBBF
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Re: History of Pizza in CT? 2015/06/17 20:49:25 (permalink)
Michael Hoffman
One can only hope there is not.


...I rest my case......
 
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Michael Hoffman
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Re: History of Pizza in CT? 2015/06/17 20:58:52 (permalink)
fishtaco
leethebard
Meanwhile,back to my original post,pizza did not originate in Connecticut!!!!
 


 
the ORIGINAL post never claimed that it did either. Only ask about origins of Connecticut pizza. Not once was the claim made that it originated there. And does it make a flying monkey where it started? 


While it is true that the OP himself did not claim it originated in Connecticut, he did say in his post, "I truly can't confirm or deny any of this, but the same old gentleman went on to say that this concept did NOT come from Italy, but in fact, emigrated from these bakers through relatives back to Naples where Italy soon claimed pizza for its own."
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Re: History of Pizza in CT? 2015/06/17 21:22:09 (permalink)
wingmanBBF
So I'll ask again....any true Chicago deep dish in CT, Mass, or RI?

Michael Hoffman
One can only hope there is not.

Agreed.
 
Because it'd assuredly be screwed up, and then Burt would have to send Buddy east for some contract work.
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