Boston proper is getting its own slice of New Haven this fall. Douglass Williams, chef and owner of Italian restaurant Mida in Boston’s South End, is opening Apizza in the forthcoming Hub on Causeway food hall near North Station. It will offer diners New Haven-style thin crust pizza, along with Roman-style pizza al taglio, which is thicker and square cut and has a crispy bottom crust. The New Haven-style pizza will be available by the slice and in full pie form, while the Roman-style pizza will be available by the slice and in full tray form.
The fast-casual pizzeria’s name is a reference to the colloquial term for pizza in New Haven — apizza, pronounced “ah-beets” — which is, lore has it, a phonetic interpretation of the Neapolitan ‘a pizza.
Williams told Eater that the idea to serve New Haven-style pizza came from his partner at Mida, Seth Gerber, who grew up in Connecticut. The two were having a discussion about how New Haven is among the best pizza cities in the world and that even though it felt niche, they wanted to bring that pizza to a wider audience.
“We want to pay homage to these people who settled in this place between New York City and Boston,” Williams told Eater. “We want to pay respect to it, and we want to do it as well as we can.”
New Haven-style pizza is notoriously cooked in coal-fired ovens, and it is served with an attendant char on the top crust. Apizza won’t cook its pies in a coal-fired oven — or even in a wood-fired oven — but the pizzeria will feature an electric deck oven capable of reaching 1000 degrees. Getting a permit for a coal-fired oven in Boston is possible but tricky, but that wasn’t what deterred Williams. Instead, the chief concern, he said, was the safety of everyone else in the building, including other food vendors, tenants living in the apartments above, and people working in the offices above.
“Using solid fuel like coal or wood was never going to happen in such a big space,” said Williams. “It’s such a huge hazard, so why pose the risk?”
While heat derived from coal fire is the preferred method of cooking New Haven-style pizza, Williams is looking at the absence of coal as an opportunity, not a problem. Plus, Williams said that if electric ovens are good enough for Bonci Pizzarium in Rome — which he called one of the best pizzerias in the world — he’s confident they’d be good enough for Apizza. Apizza’s pizzas will cook around 800 degrees, and they’ll need just three minutes in the oven.
“People will be able to get a whole pie almost as quickly as they can get a slice,” Williams said. “And at that temperature, they get that typical New Haven-style char.”
Williams is excited to open on Causeway Street. Along with being located near two transportation hubs, the neighborhood boasts TD Garden (so, foot traffic from Bruins and Celtics games, along with concerts and other live events), several new apartment buildings, and a vibrant and ever-growing business community.
“There’s a lot of density, which is literally the opposite of [Mida] and what we had to create. The people are already going to be there. With Mida, we had to create the pool and bring the people in. We’re excited to give diners the same level of generosity and the same high level of food, but done in a more convenient and expedited way.”
Williams was also pointed when he talked about prices.
“We want to make this affordable,” he told Eater. “Not a touristy price point. We want to feed the people, not the people who don’t know any better. I’m not about $7 slices because I can get away with it. We want people to buy our pizza and enjoy it, not to contemplate it.”
If all goes to plan, Apizza will offer the charm of old-school pizzeria with “modern speed and efficiencies,” said Williams. He also kept coming back to the word “generosity.” The Italian word mida translates to “he gives me,” so it’s something that’s been on Williams’ mind for some time now.
“Pizza is the ultimate vehicle of generosity and community,” Williams said. “It feels so good to make people excited about that, to make something new but also give them something relatable. Something they remember from when they were young.”
Expect Apizza to open when the Hub on Causeway opens, which should be sometime this fall, and stay tuned for news on other vendors in the food hall. No others have been announced yet, but there will also be some large, full-service restaurants in the development, including Guy Fieri’s first Boston restaurant.
For those who can’t wait until fall for a New Haven-style pizza fix and don’t want to drive a couple hours to get it, the Boston area does have several options already: New Haven’s famed Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana operates locations in Chestnut Hill and Burlington (the latter is brand new) and will eventually expand to Watertown, too. On the Roman front, two very new restaurants are serving pizza al taglio: T&B Pizza in Somerville’s Union Square and Michael Schlow’s Monti Roman Pizzeria at Time Out Market Boston in Fenway.
• Douglass Williams Is Many Things — Including One of Boston’s Only Black Chef-Owners — But He Just Wants to Be Great [BG]
• One Day Boston Will Have a Food Hall on Every Corner [EBOS]
• Are Coal-Fired Pizza Restaurants Acceptable in Boston? [EBOS]