sweet tomatoes clams casino pizza
I have a problem with Clams Casino. I know it’s an appetizer, but does it have to be so dainty? I mean, it's over-the-top delicious, don’t get me wrong, but how is anyone going to get any satisfaction out of six bites from six clams lying in six shells on a plate? And is that tiny fork supposed to make us think we’re eating more than we actually are? If you say to the server, “Well, first I’d like to start with a triple order of Clams Casino,” you’re going to sound like a glutton. Are there any other Clams Casino lovers feeling my pain?
Tiny portions and cutesy utensils is the reason I rarely order this scrumptious dish . . . until now. The Clams Casino Pizza at Sweet Tomatoes, which is offered at their South Yarmouth and Chatham locations, is hearty heaven in a box. But before we dig in, we need to give credit where credit is due.
Although several of the specialty pizzas on the Sweet Tomatoes menu are conjured up by the staff, the Clams Casino pizza came right from the top, when owner Merrill Sweet paid homage to Sweet Tomatoes’ roots. The unusual marriage of clams landing on a pizza might have originated in New Haven, Connecticut, which many pizza aficionados consider hallowed ground. Not coincidentally, Sweet Tomatoes’ style of pizza is a descendant of the Wooster Street pizzas of New Haven.
“When I took over Sweet Tomatoes in May of 2000 the shop was offering a clam pizza,” owner Merrill Sweet recalls. “It was a fine pizza—clams, garlic, a bit of lemon, olive oil and Asiago cheese—I just thought it could be so much more.” And so much more it became.
The base of this white pizza is Sweet Tomatoes’ signature Neapolitan-style whole-wheat-flour-blend crust—thin, light and crispy—but tough enough to hold up under a boat load of fresh ingredients.
The “Casino” additions are actually pretty simple and pull off the feel and flavors of the classic dish perfectly. The star of the pie is, of course, the juicy clams. The best thing about this pie is you get every ingredient in every bite: clams, fresh chunks of house-made bacon, and carefully-measured hot pepper flakes to give that Casino hot oil zing. Copious amounts of aged Asiago is grated over the pie, and the addition of fresh basil and garlic make this creation a massive local favorite—high on the “must do” list for countless returning visitors each year to Cape Cod.
So forget the little portions, throw away your silly little silverware and do a two-hand grab of what Clams Casino should have been in the first place.
Sweet Tomatoes Pizza
461 Station Avenue, South Yarmouth
790 Main Street, Chatham