Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Frank Pepe's pizzeria, New Haven (CT)

Frank Pepe's pizzeria in New Haven is an institution, and probably the most famous pizzeria between New York and Boston. Sometimes these ancient (by American standards) pizzerie maintain their fame moreso due to their longevity and history than their actual pizza making ability. So I went into Pepe's a bit skeptical, expecting something good but probably not worth the fuss people make about it.

We went over at 4:30 in order to beat the rush and power up for an evening shopping at Ikea. We had to wait 15 minutes in their salon to get a table. Not bad. I'd skip from here directly to the pizza but for a wonderful throwback codger of a waitress that was fun in her own brusque way. She kept everyone on their toes. Anyway, the pizza. The two things I immediately noticed were the quality of the ingredients and the perfect doneness of the crust. I'd heard that Pepe's is prone to blackening your crust. Perhaps this happens, but in my case the crust came out spot on:

Slightly crispy on the outside edge, chewy everywhere else, with a slight char. Ideal. They call themselves a Napolitan pizza place, and their crust is in the Naples style. Not exactly what you'll get in Napoli, but enviably close. Back to the ingredients: it's refreshing to get a pizza where the mushrooms have flavor and the salumi aren't the overspiced pepperoni and salami that tend to dominate most pizzas in America.

In other words, Frank Pepe's is the real deal and I'll be going back for sure. Yet another reason to travel the I-91 corridor, aside from the Tim Horton's in Hartford.

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