New Haven Pizza, Coming to the Upper Valley?
Let's get the news out of the way: Starting tomorrow, August 2, Pearl's Pies in Ascutney will be doing Pizza Thursdays, running from 4 pm until 8 or, well, whenever the orders peter out. But here's what you really need to know: It's not just any pizza.
I need to get personal for a minute. I grew up in New Haven, Connecticut. It's got the best thin-crust pizza in the country. (No, New Yorkers, don't even bother. It's not worth my breath.) My home pizza place? Modern Apizza, not as well known as Pepe's or Sally's, but just as good and the lines are shorter.
Tom Burnham, the owner and founder of Pearl's, also grew up in Connecticut. He lived outside New Haven for a big chunk of his life. His home pizza place? Modern.
So you could say that when I called Tom to ask why a baker better known for strawberry-rhubarb and raspberry-peach pies was in the pizza business, we bonded. It's like finding out your relatives came from the same village in the old country.
Tom actually launched his pizza sideline three months ago, then stopped. "We had nothing but great comments, but I didn’t feel it was thin enough or exactly what I wanted," he says. So he tinkered: changed up the flour, played around with yeast amounts. Now he's ready to go again, using his own dough, his own sauce, and as much Vermont meat and produce as he can for the toppings.
Will he match the blistered, crackle-yielding-to-chew perfection we both know is possible? "I can’t duplicate what they do in New Haven, but I’d like to come close," he says. "If I do, I’ll be doing a better job than most of the places around here."
All I can say is, if he does, I'm there in a hot second and it'll be worth every minute of the trip. You'll find Pearl's in Ascutney, at the intersection of routes 5 and 131.