Jose Davila IV

Yalies will no longer have the opportunity to sample Wall Street Pizza’s thin-crust pies or carve their names into its historic wood tables, as the classic Yale establishment has shut its doors for the last time.

Wall Street Pizza — formerly known as Naples Pizza — had served the Yale and New Haven communities for over 70 years at the time of its closing on Oct. 25. Situated on Wall Street between College and Temple Streets, and next door to Blue State Coffee’s Wall Street location, the restaurant was known as Yale’s original pizzeria in a town famous for its pies. It had operated in the same location, across the street from Silliman College, since its founding in 1948. While the restaurant’s last day serving customers was Oct. 25, employees were not told that the pizzeria would be shuttered until the day after, according to Rose Prifitera, whose family once owned the shop and who worked as an employee at the time of its closing.

“It is with sadness that we are announcing our decision to close Wall Street Pizza after many years of serving the New Haven and Yale community,” said Celso Marrichi — the owner of Wall Street at the time of its closing — in a statement provided to the News by Yale’s Director of University Media Relations Karen Peart. “With changes in our personal life, it is time for us to step away from the demanding schedule of running a seven-day-a-week restaurant. It has been a very rewarding experience getting to know so many students, faculty, New Haven workers and professionals. The relationships are always the most rewarding part of a business.”

While the restaurant menu focused on pizza, it was also popular for its rice pudding and cinnamon toast. In addition, Wall Street brewed its own beer, the Wall Street Amber Ale. Other customer favorites included the turkey subs and the all-day breakfast menu.

The restaurant’s clientele consisted primarily of Yale professors, students and construction workers employed in the area, according to History Director of Undergraduate Studies and African American Studies professor Edward Rugemer, a frequent customer.

“It’s terrible, and there’s a story here that needs to be told. This is a Yale institution that stretches back decades,” Rugemer told the News in an email. “I went often — it was right across the street from my office. A lot of us in the African American Studies department are devastated.”

Remembered by many Yale alums as Naples — its name before a 2007 ownership change — the restaurant saw its fair share of controversy over the years. In 2001, when the Prifitera family still owned the pizza joint, it lost its liquor license for four years after it was caught selling alcohol to minors. The loss of license had a large effect on business, according to a 2008 story in the News.

The restaurant was also popular among locals, even with stiff competition in the Elm City pizza scene.

“I [had been going to] Wall Street since I was in high school,” Maya Geradi ’22, an Elm City resident and Yale student, told the News. “It is such a great study spot and most of my friends loved hanging out there. The staff was also really friendly … one time I remember my friend and I were stressed about an exam; we had gone to study at Wall Street and they gave us free dessert because we were telling them about our exam.”

The humble pizzeria is also remembered for its influence in Connecticut politics. Former governor Dan Malloy held early meetings with New Haven activists at Wall Street in 2009 before jumping into the Nutmeg State’s gubernatorial race for his second shot — and, eventually, first successful bid — at the Governor’s mansion.

Prifitera, a longtime employee, said she was saddened by the closure of Wall Street Pizza. Her husband owned the restaurant from 1972 until his passing in 1993, after which her son took over before selling it to Marrichi in 2008. During that time, she was looking for a job and decided to continue working under Marrichi. Even without the pizzeria, Prifitera said she continues to feel a strong attachment to the building that had been in her family for decades. Prifitera hopes to continue working in the building, now owned by the University, regardless of the business that takes its place, she said.

Representatives from Yale’s Office of New Haven and State Affairs and its University Properties division did not respond to requests for comment.

For Samantha Pohly ’23, the now-closed pizza shop had a special value. Pohly said her parents met at the pizza joint during their time at Yale, and the first year has incorporated the history into her own Yale experience.

“I was nervous that the spaces I would be inhabiting would feel like my parents’ spaces as opposed to my own,” Pohly told the News. “[But] my parents and I went to Wall Street Pizza the day they dropped me off for FOOT. When I realized that it was right outside my entry into Silliman, I knew that my Yale experience could be both unique from and connected to my parents’ history.”

Wall Street Pizza was located at 90 Wall St.

 

Jose Davila IV | jose.davilaiv@yale.edu

Noel Rockwell | noel.rockwell@yale.edu

  • trixiebelden

    So sad! I remember having class there in the 80s when the unions were on strike and TAs didn’t want to cross the picket lines.

  • http://www.artspace.com/magazine/interviews_features/lists/the-10-worst-ways-to-die-in-a-hieronymous-bosch-painting-53872 Hieronymus Machine

    All Hail Wall St. Naples. Rice pudding and lemonade, we hardly knew ye.

  • Jefferson Freeman

    Naples? Wait a second. Way back when (well, at least back to 1953) didn’t Wall Street Pizza start out as George & Harry’s?

  • William Morico

    Before it was a “pizza” place, it was George and Harry’s Restaurant, a hangout for both Townies & Yalies. Rather than “pizza”, it was known for hot food served from steam tables, great sandwiches, and lots of beer on tap. It was a popular place to go before and after going to the Exit Coffeehouse, which was at 84 1/2 Wall St. and then at 425 College St in the basement. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/bbb726e00655ccf3fb5a084269f26bf3b6762e3ff28939e31823e844bc5fad38.jpg

  • Charles Musser

    I think it goes back further than 1948. It was George and Harry’s. My father Robert Musser (TD ’42) frequented it. In fact, when he brought me there as a teenager (say in 1964 or 1965) he and the man behind the register recognized each other and greeted each other as old acquaintances.

    • Y80

      George and Harry’s still existed even during the Naples era until sometime in the late ’70’s, but in a different location nearby, I think.

  • Ted Qas

    Rest In Pizza, Naples 🙁

  • Y80

    Sad to hear. It would be great if another pizza place could take over. As an undergrad from 1976-1980, I walked over from Berkeley to Naples several times a week. I had a full Yale meal plan (required in those days), but went there for my 4th meal at 11pm – a friend and I often split a large pie 2 ways, 4 slices each! Great New York style pizza, a little different from the Wooster Square style.