Behind the Net opened on September 1, 2010 in the concession space adjacent to the busy suburban ice rink just beyond Darien’s Post Road. Home to dozens of youth hockey games and practices, the rink also welcomes open skate nights and is teeming with families, practically guaranteeing a hungry audience. Thankfully for us, word soon spread that mere steps from the ice was purportedly some real-deal New Haven pizza—a pizza style characterized by an adherence to a thin crispy crust, decent charring from a super hot oven, fresh San Marzano tomato-based sauce, and mozzarella.
All the dough is made on premise with what Derek calls a "modern take on a double proof process" using wet yeast. He admits to constantly tweaking his recipe based on the weather to get the dough consistency just right. The result is an astoundingly uniform and very thin pie that stands up to most toppings you can throw at it. It’s firm, yet still quite pliable.
The Bakers Pride ovens used at Behind the Net aren’t the coal-fired ovens of Wooster street but are lined with brick and can easily crank to just over 600 degrees. The simplicity of the propane-fueled oven stresses the need for simple ingredients and Derek proves you still can get a decent char out of them.
Behind the Net is slinging pies that Darien locals swear are New Haven-style pizza and I am tempted to agree, but my gaze turns south as well. Clearly inspired by New Haven, Behind the Net equally embraces the thinly pliable pizzas produced by the gas-powered ovens of New York’s famous and inimitable pies. And geographically this makes sense. Behind the Net is one part New Haven and one part New York, with all of Darien reaping the rewards.