The New York Times has a piece about how New Haven-style pizza suddenly seems to be all the rage - with expanding popularity even in its hometown of New Haven, Connecticut, and growing popularity outside the region.
Here's how the Times sketches out the situation:
"The pies are distinct: more of a meal than the greasy, fold-up-and-go New York slices, more blue-collar than baroque California concoctions. They are a sort of American Neapolitan — chewy, charred and fresh, but with quirkier toppings than one might find on a traditional pie in Naples.
"The culture is unique, too. Connecticut natives and Yale University graduates alike hold pointed opinions about which pizzeria is best. Each weekend, lines stretch down Wooster Street and through Wooster Square, as local families and tourists line up for lunch.
"But in the past few years, things have begun to change. Suddenly, it seems like everyone wants to cash in on the popularity of the city’s signature dish … There is a New Haven pizza-making class and a soon-to-start New Haven pizza podcast. The athletics department at Yale recently announced a marketing partnership with Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana, the city’s most famous pizzeria. There is a New Haven food e-commerce business, and there are numerous feisty pizza Facebook groups."
And, the Times writes, "New Haven pizza has also spread beyond New Haven. Pepe’s has opened several out-of-state shops in recent years. Sally’s Apizza opened its first non-Connecticut location this month — in Woburn, Mass. — after first expanding within the state.
"And far-flung independent pizzerias — from Chicago to just outside London — now sell New Haven-style slices, all without a New Haven location."
But, the Times notes, there are skeptics: "They say that New Haven has something special — something specific. They worry that the expansion will take the family feel out of businesses that were once entirely family-owned and family-run.
"They wonder if pizza tourism could turn the city into something like an Italian American exhibit at Epcot. And they think New Haven-style pizza sold elsewhere will inevitably lose something in translation."
- KC's View:
I'm a cynic about these things - I think it is inevitable as this kind of growth occurs, the product gets watered down, and the Epcot-ization of a trend takes place.
This generally occurs because people and companies make cashing in on a trend their highest priority. As opposed to making quality a differentiating advantage.
Few things in the world are better than a New Haven white claim pizza. But the older I get, the more I realize that almost everything is, if not illusory, temporary. I don't like it, but there it is.