Pizza as ‘State Food’ goes down in flames

HARTFORD — When the smoke cleared on the historic 2021 legislative session, the aroma was not that of a charred New Haven-style pizza crust.

The bill that would have given pizza the distinction as Connecticut’s “State Food,” failed to make it into the flow of late-breaking new laws for Gov. Ned Lamont’s final review and signature.

In fact, in the final 24 bills rattled off by Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff — approved with no discussion or even a description as the clock ticked toward the midnight deadline — there was no hint of Wooster Street in New Haven; not a whiff of Greek pizza from Norwalk; or even the mismatched plates and place settings of Roseland in Derby.

In the urgent flush of last-minute business, there was no room for the tourist-centric pizza. Earlier in the day, Duff had thought Connecticut’s flatbread pies might make their way onto that plate of deadline bills. But it didn’t happen.

“Maybe next year,” Duff said after the midnight curfew and the Senate emptied until a special session possibly as soon as next week. “There are more important things like having a budget on time that gets bipartisan support,” Duff said. “New Haven is world famous for sure, but I have my favorite pizza places in Norwalk, as well. Maybe next year I’ll bring some up and we can compare.”

Last month, the pizza and tourist destination and public-relations idea, floated by veteran state Rep. Patricia Dillon of New Haven, was overwhelmingly approved in the House of Representatives above the protests of seaside district where the hot-butter lobster roll is king.

The list of animals (Sperm Whale, the state bird; American Robin, state bird), vegetation (Mountain Laurel, state flower), song (Yankee Doodle) and tartan (a colorful fabric), will not be joined this year by the famous flatbread with toppings.

Asked Thursday about the failure of the bill, Gov. Ned Lamont was upbeat.

“Hey, everybody knows we’ve got the best pizza in the world. I don’t need the state Senate to tell me that,” he said. Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz, who appeared with Lamont in a virtual news conference, was more politic.

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