What: Calzones are half-moons of pizza dough, stuffed with things you might otherwise eat on a pizza—cheese, veggies, meats—then folded over, cooked, and served with marinara sauce. The calzone, and its handful of regional variations, comes from Italy, naturally, so why should you eat it in New Haven, Connecticut? Because one family-owned remnant of the city’s once-busier Little Italy is widely credited with popularizing the calzone in the U.S.—being among the first to make and market calzones (via distribution of frozen packaged ones) in this country—and still makes such a mind-blowingly delicious specimen that it’d be a shame to miss it.
Where: Just across the street from the famous pizza at Pepe’s and Italian-pastries institution Libby’s, Tony & Lucille’s (203-787-1621; 150 Wooster St.) holds down the fort as area red-sauce joint. But much more than that, it’s the kind of (nearly) 60-year-old restaurant where you feel a part of the family—in fact, you’ll likely be served by one of Tony and Lucille’s daughters—and they make a killer calzone with a secret twist: Unlike most calzones you’ll find in America, theirs is deep-fried, not baked.
Eds. note: We are sad to report this restaurant closed permanently in June 2019, when its owners retired. Please let us know if you know of any other great fried calzones in the area!
Order: Try the (massive) cheese calzone, a mix of melty mozzarella and creamy ricotta encased within a crisp, fried-dough shell and served with fresh, unadorned marinara sauce. It is hard to overstate how tasty this is. (Of course, you can also add any traditional pizza topping to your calzone innards. We can attest that the pepperoni is a whole new level of guilty pleasure.) It turns out that fried dough, melted cheese, and good tomato sauce make a wondrous trio. Sit at the cozy bar with a glass of red wine, end with some homemade cannoli, and you’ve got one hell of a lunch.
Alternatively: We’ve heard reports that the calzone at Modern Apizza (874 State St., map), is tasty. With the closing of Tony & Lucille's, we are on the lookout for a new legendary calzone in the area. Let us know if you find it!