“Frank Pepe Pizzeria”
Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana is one of the oldest and best-known pizzerias in the United States. Known locally as Pepe's, is has its Original Location in the Wooster Square neighborhood of New Haven, CT, as well as stores in Fairfield, Manchester and Danbury CT, the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, CT, and in Yonkers, NY. Frank Pepe Pizzeria was founded in 1925 by Frank Pepe (b. April 15, 1893 d. September 6, 1969). Born in the town of Maiori, on the Amalfi coast, southwest of Naples, Frank Pepe was the quintessential Italian immigrant. Poor and illiterate, he immigrated to the United States in 1909 at age 16 with little more than his health and a strong work ethic. In the late 1970s, Elizabeth and Serafina, purchased the original bakery (163 Wooster St.) from the Boccamiello's and re-opened Frank Pepe's the Spot as an annex to the main building. Pepe's reputation as one the country's premier pizzeria spread through word of mouth. In the early 1990s, Elizabeth and Serafina retired and the business passed to their children - Anthony, Francis, Lisa, Bernadette, Genevieve, Jennifer and Gary - who still operate the business today and have overseen its expansion. Frank Pepe originated the New Haven-style thin crust pizza which he baked in bread ovens fired by coke. Coke is a byproduct of coal and it was used extensively until the late 1960's when it became unavailable and hence coal was then put into use to fire the oven. Pepe's signature pizza, the White Clam Pizza, was most likely an organic inspiration by Frank Pepe; an idea born from the fact that Pepe's also served raw little neck clams from Rhode Island, on the half shell, as an appetizer. This development occurred around the mid 1960's and gradually became popular through the past 40 years. Contrary to what many have heard, Frank Pepe did not have an allergy to cheese and tomatoes and the white clam pizza's evolution should not be attributed to this false malady. A lot has happened since Frank Pepe starting baking "ah-beets" 85 years ago. Pizza has gone from an obscure ethnic dish to become a mainstay of the American dining scene. But what hasn't changed at Pepe's is the family's commitment to the tradition of food quality and commitment to the community at large that Frank Pepe envisioned in 1925.
Every time I tell someone I'm living in New Haven, they ask "Sally's or Pepe's?" The pizza culture is legendary and Pepe's has been the front runner in popularity for the last few decades. People literally travel hundreds of miles for this icon. While you should definitely be prepared to wait in line for 30+ minutes, their turnover is surprisingly fast and in-house preparation is incredibly quick. This makes it ideal for delivery if you're not intent on eating at the landmark which really is pretty informal with booth-seating packed in. Make sure you go to the joint on the street and not their more-formal location set back from the road. The white clam pizza is their famous creation, but I love broccoli and red-sauce with their charred crust. Mouth watering!
Had to try the white clam pizza, so we chose Pepe's over Sally's. We went between breakfast and lunch hours on a weekday and there was no wait to be seated. The staff was friendly and engaged my 1 year old, whereas normal small people are ignored by waitstaff. They gave her a paper hat and she was over the moon excited. The pizza came out on the pan it was baked in, no frills, and it was DELICIOUS! My husband was not sure about clams on a pizza, and after 3 pieces he was convinced that he was not going to be able to stop until it was gone. We stuffed ourselves and still had a few pieces left. This was the perfect stop on our drive up the coast and we can't wait to go again.
Simple yet fantastic pizza with excellent service! What more can you ask for?
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The Spot, Frank Pepe Pizzeria
- Fri: 5:00 pm - 10:00 pm
- Sun, Sat: 1:00 pm - 10:00 pm
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