Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Frank Pepe's Pizza

Frank Pepe's is a classic, a tradition, a legend. And for good reason.

It's a pizza place in New Haven's Little Italy district, just down the street from its competitor, Sally's (which, according to my friend who has frequented both in under 24 hours, is better, but I'm not so sure after tasting Pepe's!).

Left: Sausage, Pepperoni, onions, cheese; Right: cheese
New Haven is known for its pizza because of these two restaurants. Pepe's pizza is made in a brick oven, just a few pies at a time, which means they are fresh and baked in a super hot oven. It also has the added benefit for of increasing the demand and hype--on weekends, lines can stretch a block or two and wait times are well over an hour.

It's worth it. Granted, we went on a Tuesday night of finals week, which is not prime time for lines and such, but the restaurant was full. We got a table quickly, though, just one or two families also waiting.

Let's talk pizza. I'm a Chicago girl. I get thick crust. It's amazing and bready and filling. My favorite at home is spinach pan pizza from Piero''s dense and rich and uber cheesy. The spinach is abundant and mixed with the cheese, giving the mouth-feel illusion of having twice as much cheese, and the sweet/salty/tart tomato sauce on top of the cheese necessitates eating with a knife and fork.

I'd always assumed that thin crust pizza meant the crackery, dry, thin crust of Domino's pizza parties. Little squares that never seemed filling.

Thin crust pizza is not that, let me tell you. Pepe's changed my view. The crust is still chewy, with charred, bubbly edges that leave ash on your fingers and cheeks. The toppings are out of this world, too. You have to ask for cheese separately, otherwise you get a tomato pie (which I've heard is also excellent, but we are hungry college students and want cheese and meat!)

This is the lovely group of people with whom I had my first Pepe's experience. The experience was amazing, half because of the food and half because of the company.

It's finals week...judge not our crazy expressions!
We ordered three large pizzas, one bacon, one plain, and one with sausage, pepperoni, and onion, all with mozzarella. There was plenty left over, and we ate quite a bit.

My favorite topping was the bacon. Thick, salty, smoky, and greasy, it was lush and decadent to have the dairy fat melding with the meat fat but also a little disgusting, in the best way possible. As in, disgustingly delicious.

Everything's better with bacon.
If you're in New Haven, pizza is a must. There are plenty of good places besides Pepe's or Sally's, though those are the traditional town favorites and live up to and exceed to their glowing recommendations.

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