The Italian immigrants who came over to the United States in the early part of the last century gave their new country a truly marvelous gift: pizza. New Haven’s Little Italy in particular is famous for its pizza pies, and while the Elm City’s legendary pizza parlors still win most of the state and local awards for best pizza, there are many restaurants elsewhere in the state that also have their fans and following. Many pizza parlors offer specialty pies to satisfy the differing tastes of their dinners, or experiment with ingredients to create unique, signature pies that cater to up-scale palates and meet the needs of dinners who are looking for gluten-free or vegetarian options. Here are five of those that make the top meat love’rs pizza in Connecticut.

Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana
157 Wooster St.
New Haven, CT 06511
(203) 865-5762
www.pepespizzeria.com

For many years, Frank Pepe’s has been hailed by newspapers and magazines as the best pizza in the state, and with good reason. Still run by the same family since 1925, Frank Pepe’s prides itself on remaining true to its roots. Although it has now expanded across Connecticut, each location offers the same top quality pizza that made Italian immigrant Frank Pepe’s place a landmark in New Haven’s Little Italy, and a favorite with students from nearby Yale. The coal-fired ovens give Pepe’s pizza a unique smokiness, and that is especially true for any of their pizzas topped with chicken, pepperoni, sausage, bacon, salami or any combination of those meat toppings. For seafood lovers, their white clam pizza is a special treat, and has won awards on its own. Many nights, especially on the weekends, there are lines outside the door and down the block at the flagship restaurant on Wooster Street, and, as anyone who has ever had a slice will attest, with good reason.

Modern Appiza
874 State St.
New Haven, CT 06511
(203) 776-5306
www.modernapizza.com

The brick ovens at Modern Appiza have been going steadily since 1934, making it one of the Elm City’s longest continually operating pizza places. Frequently recognized by national as well as local and regional magazines for its consistently high quality and value, Modern Appiza is especially generous with its toppings. That means a lot to meat lovers, who can see as well as feel the mass of meatballs, bacon, pepperoni, sausage and salami on their pizzas. That is especially true for those who order what Modern Apizza quite rightly calls its “Italian Bomb.” It is an explosion of meat and vegetables, including bacon, sausage and pepperoni as well as mushrooms, onion, pepper and garlic.

Stanziato’s Wood-Fired Pizza
35 Lake Avenue Extension
Danbury, CT 06811
(203) 885-1057
stanziatos.com

Wood-fired pizza ovens give a pizza and especially its crust a completely different taste and crispiness not found in pies made in conventional ovens. The pizza makers at Stanziatos in Danbury are masters of the wood-fired technique, and while their claim of having been voted “Best Pizza in the Universe” may seem a bit outlandish, after one slice, let alone two, that boast seems to have some merit. That they use organic, locally grown ingredients whenever possible also makes their pizza stand out. While there are some very non-traditional pizzas on the menu, those who prefer an old-fashion, meat-topped pizza with sausage, pepperoni, salami or bacon (which tops the “Piggy Piggy” pie) will find plenty of choices to choose from while diners on the next table enjoy their pie topped with roasted cauliflower or goat cheese.

Related: Top Italian Delis In Connecticut

Fire Engine Pizza Co.
2914 Fairfield Ave
Bridgeport, CT 06605
(203) 333-3473
thefireenginepizzaco.com

Firetrucks are almost as much a passion as pizza for Martin McCarthy and Phil Segneri, owners of the Fire Engine Pizza Co. of Bridgeport. They began selling pizzas from the back of a fire truck, and when they moved to a brick and mortar restaurant, decorated it with artifacts and mementos gathered from local fire stations and fire departments. While all of that adds a unique ambiance and helps get them noticed, it is the pizza that keeps diners coming back. Fire Engine Pizza Co. is known for its specialty pizzas, like the “Loaded Mashed Potato Pizza” and the “Jalapeno Polenta Pizza,” which are packed with the ingredients for which they are named. For meat lovers, however, nothing on the menu can top the “Sunday Dinner Pizza,” which is loaded with sausage and meatballs on a base of “Sunday Gravy” — the kind of homemade spaghetti sauce Italian grandmothers used to make for Sunday dinner. Fire Engine also has a full bar and serves dinners, as well as pizza, all in a cozy family-friendly atmosphere.

Bufalina
1070 Boston Post Road
Guilford, CT 06437
(203) 458-1377
www.bufalinact.com

The Tre Carne (Italian for “three meat”) pizza at Bufalina in Guilford down on the Connecticut Shore is a meat-lover’s treat. It is slathered with San Marzano tomatoes and layered with very high quality meats, including “speck” (a lightly smoked prosciutto), salame piccante (a very spicy pepperoni made with hot peppers) and their own sausage. They also offer meat on some of their other specialty pizzas, including the Ficchi (fig-topped pizza), and the Zucchine, a zucchini-topped vegetarian pizza to which they recommend adding sausage for those who want some meat with their vegetables.

Related: Top Italian Restaurants in Connecticut

Mark G. McLaughlin is a professional and prolific writer with a proven publishing record in a wide variety of fields. An historian, novelist, freelance journalist, ghost-writer, book reviewer, magazine editor, web and magazine columnist, Mark has more than 30 years of experience. His work can be found at Examiner.com.

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