Top of the List

C onsidering “a number of factors, including the total volume and ratings of reviews” on its site, the business directory and crowd-sourced review aggregator Yelp just named its top 25 places to eat in Connecticut—and the owner of the top spot may surprise you.

It’s a pizza place in New Haven, which isn’t surprising at all. But it’s not Sally’s, Pepe’s, Modern or BAR, or darker horses like Ernie’s, Grand or Next Door. Instead, it’s a place that opened just three years ago, not 50 yards from Pepe’s, with a shocking proclamation: “Finally, Good Pizza Has Arrived in New Haven.”

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The New Haven Health Department

It’s Zeneli, and with an average Yelp review of five out of five stars across more than 300 entries, the “good” part, at least, may have been an understatement. The pizza isn’t New Haven-style but Napoli-style, supported by a broader menu that still hews closely to Neapolitan tradition.

As it happens, a few of us from Daily Nutmeg recently enjoyed a meal at Zeneli with Alex Taylor, community manager for Yelp Connecticut. He was a first-timer. We were not. But that didn’t stop the party from singing in unison the praises of nearly every bite. During a wine-fueled meal ranging widely across the menu, the supple, house-made Trio di Mozzarelle; the unctuous, Parmigiano Reggiano-piled Cacio e Pepe; and the deliciously simple Margherita pizza seemed to rate as the best of the best.

And with more spots on Yelp’s list than any other city—Sandra’s, Andes, RAWA and Pataka also made the cut—you could say the same thing about New Haven.

Written and photographed by Dan Mims. Image 1 features (from left) Alex Taylor, Jeremy Mims and Rachel Crocker. Image 2 features the Trio di Mozzarelle. Image 3 features the Cacio e Pepe. Image 4 features the Margherita with a pair of other pies.

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Dan has worked for a couple of major media companies, but he likes Daily Nutmeg best. As DN’s editor, he writes, photographs, edits and otherwise shepherds ideas into fully realized feature stories.

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