Connecticut food includes some unique-to-the-state cuisines and other dishes that can be found elsewhere in the United States but that have roots in Connecticut. As New Englanders, Connecticut natives enjoy the regional specialties of apple cider, maple syrup, and ice cream. But the following dishes are distinctive.
You’ve heard of New York style and Chicago deep dish but have you heard of Apizza? Consisting of a charred thin crust made in a coal-fired oven, this pizza has its roots in New Haven and is definitely a food Connecticut is known for. Frank Pepe’s was the first to introduce Apizza in 1925, followed by neighboring New Haven establishments, Modern Apizza and Sally’s Apizza. All three restaurants are still serving this cuisine today.
Another food that Connecticut is known for is most certainly ice cream. The state has more than 85 dairy farms which contribute to Connecticut’s love of ice cream. You’ll find numerous dairy bars throughout the state, including one on the campus of The University of Connecticut. Some of the more popular bars with multiple locations include Arethusa Farm Dairy, Ashley’s Ice Cream, and Milkcraft.
Now commonly thought of as American cuisine, the hamburger originated in a tiny diner in New Haven called Louis’ Lunch. While other restaurants have claimed to have invented the iconic dish, Louis’ is the only one recognized by the Library of Congress. The story goes that in 1900 a customer demanded a quick lunch to go. The owner, Louis Lassen, took some steak and put them between two pieces of toast, and the hamburger was born.
Not only is Connecticut the birthplace of the hamburger, it’s also home to a few unusual interpretations. Steamed hamburgers – ground beef that’s steamed instead of grilled – can be found at Ted’s Restaurant in Meridan and Jack’s Lunch in Middletown. And the Fried Cheeseburger which consists of pan-fried American cheese “wings” is served at Shady Glen in Manchester.
While Maine is the state most people associate with lobster rolls, the dish was invented during the 1920s at the Milford, Connecticut restaurant Perry’s. It’s believed that the owner, Perry, conceived of the sandwich when a salesman mentioned he’d like a “hot grilled lobster sandwich” that he could take with him on the road. After that first initial request, Perry worked to perfect the dish, trying out different types of breads and buns. It wasn’t until the 1950s that more restaurants began serving lobster rolls and it soon became a popular staple along the eastern seaboard in the 1970s.
While not the first restaurant to serve submarine sandwiches, Subway restaurants got their start in 1965 in Bridgeport. Today, Subway is the largest fast-food chain with more than 44,000 locations around the world. These popular cold-cut sandwiches served on half and foot-long buns can be found on every continent except for Antarctica.
About Kerry Flatley
Kerry Flatley has lived in New England for the past 26 years. She has roots in Maine & Massachusetts, family in New Hampshire, and grew up close to the Connecticut border. She loves all that this region has to offer – the ocean, mountains, islands, history, villages, and cities. When she’s not writing about New England, she’s relaxing at home in the Boston suburbs with her two teenage daughters and husband.