Rhode Island’s Best Pizza Strips

Thursday, February 16, 2012

 

There are few things more Rhode Island than pizza strips--right? Whether it’s a birthday, graduation or religious celebration you can almost guarantee a platter of these saucy delights. This is originally what pizza was in these parts: a cheap, easy to transport street food. Italian immigrants didn’t have a lot, but they could make a basic dough and grow tomatoes in summer for this classic. We set out to find our favorites and we came back covered in sauce and oil. Check out these 5 spots to get that “tomato pie” fix….
 

Zaccagnini’s, Cranston

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Is there anything more RI than a pizza strip? Photo: Ayersian/Roadfood


 

In Rhode Island, you can tell the quality of a bakery by the cult-like following it develops. Zaccagnini’s is that kind of place. We first went here as kids and remember our parents making sure they had cash--no credit or debit--and we headed over to stand in line on a Saturday morning. The smells were amazing and it where we first fell in love with the pizza. You have a choice here…traditional strip or pizza round. Really, were just haggling over a shape here as either choice features their sweet tomato sauce, the buttery crust and a sprinkle of grated cheese. The flavors are always spot-on and because of the amount business coming through the doors, you can always get a fresh strip. While you are there don’t forget to try the amazing pastry. Grown-ups will love the ricotta pie and the kids will love the cookies and frosted brownies. 701 Oaklawn Ave, 943-4567.

 

DePetrillo’s, Coventry


We grew up on these strips, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves here because DePetrillo’s is a terrific old-school bakery with tasty cakes, flaky pastries and, of course, the pizza strips. DePetrillo’s claims to be the originator of party pizza in these parts. Now, we don’t know about that, but we can tell you we’ve been eating their strips for several decades--did we just put that in writing? -- at the least. These are classic strips with a nice, crisp crust and just the right amount of sauce to keep it all moist. They find the right balance between the sauce and the crust so you’re not left with a soggy mess of a strip. The reason we love this kind of pizza is the same reason our ancestors ate it: affordability. DePetrillo’s offers their party pizza in a platter of 54 pieces for $14.99 for a full tray. That is why it became such a staple around here: a large platter for the kids was cheap and always good. 797 Tiogue Ave. 828-4300, www.depetrillos.com
 

Calvitto’s, Wakefield 

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When the warm weather arrives, we head south. Not that far south -- we're Rhode Islanders -- to South Kingston. And just because we’re at the beach doesn’t mean that the craving for pizza strips subsides. When we were growing up, a trip to the beach was a communal experience. Our grandmothers and grandfathers would begin the night before, preparing a feast that would fill the fridge and our parents and aunts and uncles would pack it all up in the car and we would head out early in the morning. Those car rides were murder. Depending on beach traffic we would be looking to dive in to the feast by the time we hit North Kingston. Well, those crafty elders came up with an easy solution: always have pizza strips on hand for “emergencies.” The portability made them perfect for keeping us quiet and we never complained a bit. As the generations changed we sought out good pizza strips near the beach and found Calvitto’s, in Wakefield. The regular strips are always a crowd pleaser and make easy to eat beach food. We also love the “white strips” that are covered in olive oil, garlic and grated cheese. Add a couple of fresh tomato slices from the garden and call it Summer! 60 South County Commons Way, 782-2285.
 

Crugnale, Cranston
 

One of the largest groups of Italian immigrants to settle in Rhode Island settled in the area of Cranston that is west of Reservoir Avenue. It’s a sort of “demarcation” line in the city. The area was settled by poor Italians who brought their love of food with them. The good Rhode Island weather allowed them to grow the tomatoes and vegetables that became a staple of their diet here, just as they were in the old country. Well, since 1917, Crugnale bakery has been feeding this hungry community with sweet and savory delights. The spinach pies…the zeppole…the bread that they’ve been making for generations…oh yeah, and the pizza strips. As usually happens here, we went in for a couple of strips and came out with a box! These strips are the messy, saucy, oily ones you remember from childhood. Peel off the paper, lick your fingers and go. The crust is soft and chewy and the sauce is just sweet enough. Crugnale’s has grown through the years to five locations around the state, but we always find ourselves here for the original feel. 567 Reservoir Ave. 781-8800, www.crugnalebakery.com

 

Lasalle Bakery, Providence

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Lasalle bakery, on Smith Street, would make a lot of peoples “best bakery” list. They have you covered from breads to pastry to cakes and, of course, pizza strips. We were brought here long ago by our Dads who went to Lasalle Academy and would sneak off for tasty treats. Lasalle Bakery has been doing it right since 1930 and that commitment continues today. This past year, Lasalle was voted the national retail bakery of the year. Quite the feat for them and one that left us saying “Duh!” We love their cookies and cakes but it’s the pizza strips that keep us coming back. The perfect “grab and go” food has been perfected here with a “cleaner” strip. This is one you can enjoy in a suit and tie. All the flavor is here but we find them a little easier to handle than most. The crust is a perfect hybrid of a pizza dough and a bread dough, giving it crunch and flavor all at the same time. Make sure you grab some of their killer cookies while you are there, you won’t be disappointed! 993 Smith St. 831-9563, www.lasallebakery.net

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