It’s incredible what a band of smart, determined women can accomplish when they set their minds to it. The Zuppardi women (along with a few men) of the eponymous West Haven, Connecticut pizza parlor moved mountains to vend their pie in New Orleans at the NOLA Foodfest this past weekend.
Separate contingents of the family arrived in Louisiana via jet airplane, food truck and Ryder refrigerator truck before all converging on the French Market for the NOLA Foodfest, produced by Michael Stern’s Roadfood website. It was the biggest food party of this young year.
We woke up at dawn on Saturday to get some work done so that we could make our way to the French Quarter to sample the fabled white clam pizza that put their restaurant (est.1934) on the map.
Eating that pie was like going to church.
The hot sun beat down, some woefully out of place music boomed out of the festival speakers, and the French Market came to life as the festival swung into motion.
After a lengthy discussion with the Zuppardi’s who were busy shucking little neck clams, prepping dough and attending to dozens of other food truck tasks, we claimed our pie, walked around behind the truck and hunkered down on the cement to contemplate our feast in a sort of monastic silence. We had had fantasies all week about this food and we were going to savor every moment.
The first bite put lie to all other pizza we’d ever eaten; the second bite, impossibly, was even better than the first; around the third bite we began to fantasize about building a new life in West Haven Connecticut to afford us better opportunity to continually eat this pluperfect pizza.
We’d buy lots of flannel, grow fat and begin speaking with a New England accent. All for the love of pizza.
Pizza this good doesn’t just happen. It takes a lot of planning and effort. During a chat with Lori Zuppardi and Cheryl Zuppardi Pearce we were informed that their family had transported all the flour, cheese, clams, handmade sausage, tomatoes and other kitchen sundries all the way from Connecticut for the party.
They even brought municipal water from West Haven. Their pie was going to be authentic or they were going to go down in flames in their attempt.
We ate a lot of food at the NOLA Foodfest but at the end of the day all we could think about was that Zuppardi pizza. How the little neck clam juice ran down our arms, the bite of the shards of fresh garlic, the pleasant tang of the mozzarella cheese and that life altering crust that bespoke of decades of experience making scratch dough.
This is article number 2,539 on the Scrumptious Chef site