Connecticut white clam pizza is one of the lesser-known pizza styles. It may not be as famous as New York-style pizza or as controversial as Chicago deep-dish pizza, but Connecticut white clam pizza definitely deserves a place among the famous styles of American pizza.
What is Connecticut White Clam Pizza?
Connecticut white clam pizza is the brainchild of Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana in New Haven, Connecticut. A unique white pizza (meaning no tomato sauce) is made with a few choice ingredients on a Napoletana-style crust.
The key component is, of course, fresh clams, oregano, garlic, and Pecorino cheese. The original owner of Frank and Pepe’s Pizzeria was an Italian immigrant who opened the pizzeria in 1925, serving the local community with Italian-style pizza and appetizers.
One of those appetizers was fresh littleneck clams, and one day the pizzaiolo decided to combine his popular appetizer with his delicious pizza creating the Connecticut white clam pizza.
What Makes Connecticut White Clam Pizza Special?
For one, the recipe calls for Pecorino cheese instead of the traditional mozzarella. Pecorino cheese adds a robust, tangy flavor that is the perfect partner for salty clams.
Pecorino cheese is similar to Parmesano Reggiona in that they are both hard cheeses, but Parmesano is made from cow’s milk and has a nutty, earthy taste. Pecorino cheese is made from sheep’s milk and only ages several months. In contrast, Paremesano is aged at least two years.
Another notable thing that makes this pizza is the locally sourced fresh littleneck clams. If you are lucky enough to try a Connecticut white clam pizza in New Haven, you will understand the importance of using fresh clams. New Haven is known for its fresh shellfish due to a prolific fishing industry..
How to Make Connecticut White Clam Pizza
We decided to try and recreate the mouth-watering Connecticut white clam pizza at home. First, we started with a simple pizza dough. You can buy a pre-made dough if you are short on time.
However, this recipe is too good to put on a premade crust. The crust should be thin with a crispy, chewy bite. That nuanced crust is hard to find in a premade option. But using a premade dough from the supermarket or local pizzeria is fine.
Ingredients you will need.
- Pecorino cheese
- Fresh clams
- 4 cloves of minced garlic
- Olive oil
This recipe only requires a short list of simple ingredients. We love it when a recipe combines only a few things to make something great!
Before we get started, let’s talk for a minute about clams. Buying them and shucking them at home may be a little intimidating to a home chef. This video by famous chef Andrew Zimmern can help you learn how to shuck clams.
Or maybe you live far from the sea, and fresh clams are expensive or difficult to find. Don’t worry. You can still make Connecticut white clam pizza at home using canned clams.
Smoked clams are good on other pizza combinations, but to get a truly Connecticut white clam pizza smoked clams won’t work as well. The strong smoky flavor overpowers the other ingredients.
Once you have your crust prepared, brush it with olive oil and sprinkle with garlic. Next, layer Pecorino cheese and oregano, and lastly, add the clams. We like to add another sprinkle of Pecorino and a dash of black pepper too.
Since the pizza isn’t overloaded with sauce or heavy toppings, it cooks much quicker, so keep an eye on it. If using a traditional oven, bake at 450°F for 6 to 8 minutes.
- Serve with a side of green salad.
- Save some olive oil to drizzle over the cooked pizza
- Add some chopped fresh parsley to the cooked pizza
Serve your Connecticut white clam pizza with a cold glass of crisp white wine like Pinot Grigio or Chardonnay.
Get Creative with White Clam Pizza
We love to try traditional-style pizzas, and this recipe didn’t disappoint. However, we also love to experiment and have fun in the kitchen. Like many home chefs, part of the fun is trying out new ideas and giving classic recipes a little twist.
So here are a few ways you can tweak Connecticut while clam pizza to make it your own.
Although it’s not traditional, we added bacon to our clam pizza, and it was the perfect mix of crunchy and chewy. Smoky bacon adds perfectly balances the briny salty clams. But that is up to you. Try making this the traditional way and then with bacon to see what you think.
Another fun idea, is to remake this white clam pizza as a red clam pizza. Try making a clam pizza with a tomato-based sauce. Clams are traditionally served with creamy accents, think white New English clam chowder or clams and creamy white wine sauce.
But clams also work with a tomato base. Take inspiration from Manhatten clam chowder, which is famously served as a tomato-based chowder. Or clams linguini, a popular clam dish with a red sauce.
Have fun in the kitchen! The best part about being a home chef is getting creative and shining a new light on unexpected dishes.
Have you ever had a Connecticut white clam pizza? What’s your favorite way to add seafood to pizza?