An hour north of New Haven, Connecticut – home of the acclaimed thin-crust pizza variety – the Naples-style of thin-crusted pizza also dominates the menu at the best pizza restaurants in West Hartford, Connecticut. The affluent suburb of the state’s capitol fashions itself the top pizza destination in central Connecticut, and three – four, depending on how you’re counting – establishments all lay claim to being the area’s best.
In many ways, Harry’s Pizza is the originator of most of West Hartford’s best pies. Before he retired, owner Harry Rufleth’s restaurants built a reputation of pizza excellence. Today, there are two locations for Harry’s Pizza – in the heart of downtown West Hartford Center and at nearby Bishop’s Corner. Officially under separate ownership, the two locations no longer have any affiliation other than their name.
The West Hartford Center branch, in the original location at 1003 Farmington Avenue, offers traditional toppings such as pepperoni, but also features fresh, organic vegetable toppings such as snow peas or asparagus on some of its selections.
The Bishops Corner branch, located at 732 North Main Street, is now under the ownership of chef Kevin Plaut, who’s career includes a stint at Figs in Massachusetts working for celebrity chef Todd English. This Harry’s doesn’t stray too far from the original, however, with its thin wheat crust “pizza napoletana” and traditional toppings. In 2009, Harry’s Bishop’s Corner was once again chosen the best in the Hartford area by “Hartford” magazine.
At one point in time, Barb was married to Harry. Suffice it to say that the story did not end well, and this pizza restaurant – totally separate and yet with similar roots to both Harry’s locations – is a worthy competitor to both. Barb’s, located at 353 Park Road, offers the same type of thin-crust pizza that patrons of Harry’s will find familiar. Regular customers will tell you that the best toppings include thicker-than-usual hand cut pepperoni and tangy barbecue chicken.
Just steps away from the original Harry’s in West Hartford Center is Luna Pizza. Like the rivalry between New Haven pizza restaurants, locals will argue over which is best. Luna serves a bit more of an upscale, gourmet line of pizzas with fresh mozzarella and a spicier homemade sauce. The owners of Luna Pizza, located at 999 Farmington Avenue, refer to it as New York style, but it is still similar to the thin-crusted version available at West Hartford’s other top spots. The original Luna Pizza was located on Franklin Avenue in Hartford’s Italian neighborhood, but moved to West Hartford Center in the mid-1990s. That location is now the flagship of a growing New England chain.