As much as I wanted to try Sally's Apizza after finishing up at Frank Pepe's, they weren't open for a few hours and I was tight on time. Next option: Modern Apizza.
Modern's name is a bit of a misnomer- it first opened its doors in 1934 as State Street Apizza, making it one of the oldest pizzerias in New Haven. I'm not sure at what point the name was changed and for what reason, but the place is now owned and operated by Bill Pustari as of 1988.
As far as Modern's Margherita's go, they offer "plain," "mozzarella," and... "American?" The girl taking orders seemed about as confused as I was between the first two options, but clarified that the plain uses slices of cheese while the mozzarella version was shredded. I opted for a medium (16") mozzarella.
I had 15 minutes to kill, so never having been to New Haven I asked where Yale campus was so I could take in the iconic Ivy League locale. The same girl taking my order looked at me like I asked her for driving directions to Mars... I came back 10 minutes later just in time to take my pie to Wooster Square for a pizza picnic.
Here's a closer look:
Looks pretty yummy. My first reaction was that Modern makes their pizzas spherical, unlike their Wooster St. brethren Pepe's and Sally's. Shape makes no difference to me so long as the product is tasty, which I can't confidently say about this pie from Modern.
The first couple of slices were alright; definitely different than Pepe's. I can't really place it- does Modern use a cornmeal or Semolina flour dusting on the bottom of their crust? Upon closer inspection of the rest of the pizza, I found the majority of it badly burnt.
At first I thought it was just some nice charring from the oil-fired oven, but then:
Yikes. 70% of the pie had an undercrust like this. Say what you will about personal preference when it comes to how well-done you may like your pizza, but this thing tasted gross. As I ate my way through, I began to ponder the difference in definition and taste between "charred" and "burnt."
I know I committed a cardinal pizza sin by letting the pizza even sit in a take-out box for 2 minutes, but after the damage that was done to that crust I don't think it made much of a difference. I'm disappointed. I'm willing to give Modern the benefit of the doubt that I got a rare bad pie considering their dedicated following, but I would be embarrassed serving a customer something this torched...