You can’t talk about clam pizzas without mentioning the New Haven, Connecticut, clam pie maestro Frank Pepe, but until it makes its way to Manhattan, you have to look to lesser practitioners (there’s no shame in being in this shadow). We tried clam pizzas all over town, and in the end, found these five to be the briniest, juiciest, clam pies around.
#5 OTTO Enoteca e Pizzeria (1 5th Ave.)
Vongole Pizza with Clams, Garlic & Mozzarella ($14): Smells and tastes just like spaghetti vongole. Cheese-layering is conscientious and garlic slices are pleasant complements to wet clams, in shells, atop the pizza. Shells are a little annoying to remove, but clams are generously (about 20) apportioned. One drawback to the great taste is a bit of a soggy crust.
#4 L’asso Pizza (192 Mott St.)
Pizza Piccolo Colo with Clams, Pecorino & Parsley (small, $19): L’asso is known for their thin, crunchy crust. While it can be dry and under-seasoned, the clams are generously spread, big, tender and salty. The use of a whole sliced lemon works very well but should be spritzed a slice at a time.
#3 Lombardi’s Pizza (32 Spring St.)
Clam Pie ($26): The 14-inch signature pie is loaded with chopped top necks, providing the sea-saltiness of Spaghetti Vongole. The crust is excellent — thin and doughy but the clams are slightly chewy. The acid of a whole sliced lemon brightens the clams and powerful garlic flavors.
#2 Franny’s Brooklyn (295 Flatbush Ave.)
Clams, Chilies & Parsley Pizza ($17): White wine and juices from the steamed clams were reduced to a glaze on a thin, Neapolitan crust with burnt bubbles. The absence of cheese was authentic and chili flakes and torn parsley were great foils for the briny clams.
#1 South Brooklyn Pizza (451 Court St.)
Clam Pie ($12): Large, plump, fresh clams showcased on an elongated saltine-thin crust (with a doughy rim) which soaked up the juices but remained crispy. Lemon was absent, it would have been unnecessary and the mercenary execution made us reevaluate its use in other pizzas as a crutch.
This post was originally published in 2010, on the now-defunct, James-Beard Award-nominated blog AlwaysHungryNY.com.