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.
New article on the Branford Patch!
NEW HAVEN, CT - If you know the history of New Haven's vast bar and restaurant scene then you know that one of the legendary locales was the former Humphrey's restaurant at 175 Humphrey Street, just a little way from the busy State Street area.
Humphrey's is long gone and many a restaurant has come and gone trying to make a go at the same location.
As of this June, there is a new restaurant trying to make a go of it at the historic location - Next Door.
The difference, the owners of this pizza/craft beer/small plates establishment told Patch in a recent interview is twofold: they are experienced restaurateurs and, they repeatedly told us: "We are in this for the long run."
Thank you New Haven Independent and Thomas Breen!
Mike Zullo tossed a ball of pizza dough in the air, rolled it flat, and topped it with sauteed mushrooms and slices of yellow summer squash that had been prepared in an adjacent kitchen earlier in the day.
As he lifted the pizza into a massive wood-fired oven, customers just a few feet away flipped through a drinks menu that contains cocktails infused with syrups and infusions made in that very same kitchen.
Zullo was at work in Jocelyn Square’s newest reborn restaurant, Next Door. The connection among the pie, the libations, and the fresh veggies reflected the joint’s strategy — creating a sum greater than, but linked to, its parts.
Next Door is located at 175 Humphrey St., the former home of the restaurant Humphrey’s,
(with a storied history dating back to a Prohibition-era speakeasy) at the corner of Humphrey and East Street. A little over a year after getting its final zoning and building approvals from the city, Next Door officially opened to the public on June 6.
Big Green Truck Pizza is planning to lay down brick-and-mortar roots — and feed the surrounding Jocelyn Square neighborhood the way owner Doug Coffin remembers Humphrey’s restaurant doing in the 1990s.
Coffin bases his mobile pizza business next door to the former Humphrey’s restaurant, the historic Piurek Building at 175 Humphrey St. Now Coffin is in the process of creating a new restaurant at shuttered 175 Humphrey with an old-fashioned theme.
The building housed Humphrey’s bar and restaurant for a near-historic run before it became Carissa’s Cafe in 2012 and then Park Place East in 2015.
Distancing themselves from those latter versions, Coffin and business partners Domenic Giannotti and chef Robin Bodak said they want to create a pizzeria, bar, and special events venue that functions as an outcropping of Coffin’s Big Green Truck Pizza catering operation and adds Mediterranean flavor to the city’s culinary landscape. (They haven’t yet settled on a name for their restaurant, which they hope to open by the fall.)