It takes confidence to open a new pizza place just a few blocks from local heavyweights Modern Apizza and Da Legna. But Robin Bodak, Doug Coffin and Domenic Giannotti have done it anyway with Next Door Pizza and Bar. This ownership trio is actually a trifecta, bringing a wealth of relevant experience to an eatery that’s both casual and trendy, with pizzas and plates to share, draft beers and “craft cocktails,” familiar flavors and new creations.
13 years ago, when Coffin expanded his catering business into a fleet of mobile wood-fired pizzerias emblazoned with the name Big Green Truck Pizza, it hardly crossed his mind to worry about the competition. “I wasn’t really that intimidated by it,” he says, “in part because I was… doing something that no one else was doing.” The next step of opening a brick-and-mortar place—a business that, as the menu says, “(hopefully) won’t need a tow truck!”—was natural, and Coffin seems as unconcerned as ever about the competition. “You cannot, perhaps, possibly saturate the market for pizza in New Haven,” he says. “Good pizza generates more interest in pizza.”
New Haven is the opposite of a pizza desert. World-renowned pizza, er, apizza options abound, from Pepe’s, Sally’s and Modern to BAR and relative newcomers such as De Legna. So when I heard that pizza was one of the specialties at Next Door, a new bar and restaurant on Humphrey Street, I admired the restaurant owner’s chutzpah but privately wondered if the concept would work. Arriving at the restaurant on a recent evening, I learned that Next Door is about far more than just pizza.
Opened in June, in the space that once held the venerable restaurant Humphrey’s, the expansive interior includes two distinct, yet linked, bar and dining areas. Each has a warm and welcoming neighborhood feel. In addition to its creative pizzas, Next Door has a wide variety of well-crafted and interesting food options, and the bar features 32 craft beer taps as well as excellent cocktails.
Photography by Dozy Images, Cameron Harris.