Another CT trip: Pepe's, Swanky Franks, Rawley's, Ashley's, Modern Apizza, Donut Dip

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Buffalo Tarheel
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2009/04/19 18:33:16 (permalink)

Another CT trip: Pepe's, Swanky Franks, Rawley's, Ashley's, Modern Apizza, Donut Dip

In which our intrepid heroes put stomachs at risk to hit as many Roadfood places as possible while answering the burning questions: Can you ever have too much pizza or too many hot dogs?  Is it legal to have dessert between the aforementioned pizza and hot dogs?  Can you use the word “aforementioned” on a food posting without losing your Roadfood status?
 
My trips for work tend to go in spurts to one location or another, and the first part of this year has sent me into the Hartford, CT area a few times.  Personally it has made for some enjoyable visits to classic Roadfood locations and the chance to meet some extremely hospitable and nice people.  The meals have not been bad, either.  With that said, please forgive me for going over somewhat familiar ground for many of you all.  This is a report from my trip the week of April 13.  I promise to write about new locations when I head to Kansas, Louisiana, California, and New Hampshire later in the year.
 
The trip started off with a bit of a downer because I stopped at a place on the drive over, only to find that it was closed for vacation.  The plan was to eat lunch at Frank and Burgy’s in Herkimer, NY, a place that has an excellent review on the site and was also highly recommended by TnTinCT.  I suppose that the only glimmer of good from the stop was to find that the place is still in existence and is a short stop from the NY Thruway exit.  Oh yes, maybe now I have paid my Roadfood dues by being “Travelin Manned” – I hope I can use that term.
 
Monday night was a calm one: just a stop over to Shady Glen in Manchester, CT.  I neglected to bring the camera along and so have no pictures to post.  The burger with a cheese skirt was good, the fries were all right but nothing great, and the grape nut ice cream was sensational.  If you visit Shady Glen, please don’t forget to have dessert.
 
Tuesday night was when the fun began.  I met up with Chris (ayersian), Mark (doggydaddy), and Terri and Tim (TnTinCT) at Pepe’s in Manchester, CT.  In all my years of going to Pepe’s (i.e., two visits in March), I have had only the white clam pizza and the plain tomato pizza.  Tonight we ordered a selection of pizzas with mushrooms, sausage, and a special with everything on it (along with the clam pizza).  My pictures did not turn out that well, but here is one of the sausage pizza.
 

 
The pizzas were all good.  The pepperoni one may have been the best, with its thick slices of spicy pepperoni.
 
But better than the pizza was the company and the chance to eat with some great folks.  It was enjoyable to meet Terri and Tim and to see Chris and Mark again.  I certainly look forward to seeing all of them again.
 
Wednesday afternoon was what Chris has called our epic adventure in Connecticut.  Because my work finished early, and his work did also, we were able to get an early jump on hitting places.  So began an adventure that spanned the afternoon and evening (and into the next days before I could finish some food).
 
First stop: Foxon Park beverages for some flavored sodas (pops in Western NY vernacular).  I have enjoyed the clear birch beer at Pepe’s but cannot find it in the grocery stores.  The beverage store is located at 103 Foxon Boulevard in New Haven and closes early (5:00 PM on weekdays and 4:00 PM Saturday).
 

 
The store has a varied selection of beverages, either in the 12-ounce glass bottles or one-liter plastic bottles:
 

 
I picked up a couple of cases of the one-liter bottles.  The price is not bad: $1.25 each, compared to $2.00 at Pepe’s or when ordering on-line:
 

 
Be aware if you visit that the inside does not look like a retail establishment.  You may wonder if you have entered the wrong door because all you are bottles and the sign on the wall.  Go ahead and fill your box, and someone will be along to take you order.
 
Fortified with the beverages for the return trip home, we headed for the first stop: Swanky Franks in Norwalk, CT:
 

 
The meal was a chili cheese dog and fries.  The chili cheese dog had a spicy flavor that did not hit right away but made itself known a few moments after taking a bite of the dog.  It was not unpleasantly hot but was quite distinctive:
 

 
The fries were hand-cut and crispy without being too hard.  You cannot see from the picture, but the fries did contain the little bits that are so tasty and hard to resist:
 

 
Next stop: Rawley’s in Fairfield.  Chris has already described the hot sauce in a Roadfood Digest article: http://www.roadfooddigest.com/post/2009/04/Two-CT-dog-stands-add-hot-relish-to-their-menus.aspx



  The chili cheese and bacon dog was very good also but not as spicy as that from Swanky Franks.  It was good, and the chili had more of a taco flavor to me.  As one who has put taco meat on hot dogs, I found the dog to be tasty and worth going back for.  The bacon added a nice crunch and flavor.
 

 
Needing to walk off some of that food and redevelop our appetites, we stopped in New Haven to walk around the Yale campus.  After approximately ten minutes of walking, we stopped at Ashley’s Ice Cream:
 

 
The butter pecan and black cherry were both good selections; pictured below is the butter pecan.
 

 
The ice cream is pricey: $3.00 for the scoop shown.  It is very good.  I see from the New England ice cream ratings http://www.roadfooddigest.com/IceCream/   that Ashley’s received three stars out of five.  It may not be at the top of the list but is good and is a worthy stop when in the area.
 
The Yale campus has some wonderful architecture.  I have just one picture to post: that of the Rare Book and Manuscript Library with its translucent panels that allow some light in but keep out sunlight from damaging the precious documents:
 

 
Finally it was time for pizza at Modern Apizza:
 

 
Although fairly full, we ordered a plain tomato pie.
 

 
We also ordered the sausage pizza:
 

 
Both were excellent and equal to those from Pepe’s.  Which place had the better pizza?  I really cannot tell because both are so good.  The sausage pizza from Modern may have been slightly better than that from Pepe’s.  One of the features that is so good is the thin crust, and it is not overwhelmed by the toppings.
 
To conserve room, Chris and I had been splitting the hot dogs, reasoning that we would get less full by eating only half.  Makes sense, right?  So what do you do with two pizzas?  You eat half of each one (between us: each one had some sausage and some tomato pizza).  Half a hot dog, half a pizza: the math makes some kind of sense.
 

 



(Be assured that those pizzas did not die in vain or get tossed out: they did taken out as leftovers.)

The next stop was Libby’s on Wooster Street for dessert (or a second dessert if you are counting the ice cream from Ashley’s):
 

 
The selection is a large one, and we settled on the cannolis:
 

 
I am thankful that I brought a cooler along because I did not eat mine until back home, and even then I waited until Friday.  It was outstanding: very sweet and tasty.
 
I could not resist this picture of the original Pepe’s just down the street:
 

 
As an interesting note, there is an annex Pepe’s location just down the street from the original pizza place to handle the overflow crowds.  If you see too long a line at Pepe’s, go into the parking lot and look to the building in the rear; it may have room for you.
 
So ended a long, fruitful, and enjoyable afternoon.  My thanks to Chris for showing me all these outstanding places to eat at and for showing me around New Haven.
 
The next day on the way home I stopped at Donut Dip in Springfield, MA at the location at 1305 Riverdale Road in West Springfield, just off the I-91 freeway:
 

 
I ended up with a bag of six donuts:
 

 
Here are the donuts, perhaps looking a bit squashed after their journey.
 

 
They were still good, particularly the chocolate frosted and vanilla frosted donuts.
 
Again, all my thanks to the folks I ate with and visited with on this trip.  You are all great ambassadors for Roadfood and a lot of fun to be around.
post edited by Buffalo Tarheel - 2009/04/19 21:21:15
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38 Replies Related Threads

    Nancypalooza
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    Re:Another CT trip: Pepe's, Swanky Franks, Rawley's, Ashley's, Modern Apizza, Donut Dip 2009/04/19 19:04:37 (permalink)
    Of the 'aforementioned' photos, I like the chili cheese dog and the donuts the best.  What is gassosa, if you happen to know?  Also, I am convinced if I lived within driving distance of Chris I would weigh 75 more pounds.  Lovely report BT.
    #2
    Michael Hoffman
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    Re:Another CT trip: Pepe's, Swanky Franks, Rawley's, Ashley's, Modern Apizza, Donut Dip 2009/04/19 19:09:26 (permalink)
    Thanks for the reminder of home. Nice report. very nice.
    #3
    Buffalo Tarheel
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    Re:Another CT trip: Pepe's, Swanky Franks, Rawley's, Ashley's, Modern Apizza, Donut Dip 2009/04/19 19:14:56 (permalink)
    Thank you for the nice comments, Michael and Nancy.  I had a great tour guide, so all I had to do was follow his lead.

    Nancy, I actually bought a couple of bottles of the gassossa.  It is a clear liquid that I believe, from looking at the ingredients, is like a lemon lime soda.  I'll let you know more once I try it.  I picked up a couple of flavors just because they sounded intriguing (such as Iron Brew).  Maybe the term "kid in a candy shop" should be applied to me.
    #4
    Michael Hoffman
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    Re:Another CT trip: Pepe's, Swanky Franks, Rawley's, Ashley's, Modern Apizza, Donut Dip 2009/04/19 20:43:43 (permalink)

    Iron Brew is wonderful, but how on Earth could you have skipped the white birch beer. It's the only thing to eat with an apizza.
    #5
    Buffalo Tarheel
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    Re:Another CT trip: Pepe's, Swanky Franks, Rawley's, Ashley's, Modern Apizza, Donut Dip 2009/04/19 20:57:43 (permalink)
    Good point about the clear birch beer.  I probably wasn't clear in my report, but I have been drinking it with the pizza.  In fact, Pepe's is the place where I first had it.  I did pick up several bottles of it to bring back with me (about 9 out of 24 total bottles of Foxon Park sodas).

    Glad to hear the Iron Brew is good, as I bought it (and some other flavors) without tasting them. 
    #6
    ann peeples
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    Re:Another CT trip: Pepe's, Swanky Franks, Rawley's, Ashley's, Modern Apizza, Donut Dip 2009/04/20 12:51:21 (permalink)
    What a great report!! The descriptions of the food were wonderful, and the pics of the pizza's are making my mouth water. And what better food companion in CT. than Chris...
    #7
    Ivyhouse
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    Re:Another CT trip: Pepe's, Swanky Franks, Rawley's, Ashley's, Modern Apizza, Donut Dip 2009/04/20 12:57:16 (permalink)
    Great report and pictures! 
    #8
    wheregreggeats.com
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    Re:Another CT trip: Pepe's, Swanky Franks, Rawley's, Ashley's, Modern Apizza, Donut Dip 2009/04/20 13:38:20 (permalink)
    Thanks.
    Great report.

    #9
    Buffalo Tarheel
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    Re:Another CT trip: Pepe's, Swanky Franks, Rawley's, Ashley's, Modern Apizza, Donut Dip 2009/04/20 18:19:23 (permalink)
    Thanks very much for the nice comments, folks.  I think I could eat more pizza now because I am not so full as I was then.  Modern and Pepe's definitely make some fine pizzas.

    All the Roadfood people I have met so far, either in person or via the site, have been great.  I hope to repay some of that hospitality whenever someone is in Buffalo - we have a few good eats around here, too.
    #10
    sk bob
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    Re:Another CT trip: Pepe's, Swanky Franks, Rawley's, Ashley's, Modern Apizza, Donut Dip 2009/04/21 20:17:38 (permalink)
    Excellent report BT
    its good to see current pictures of the food I used to eat.
    I only miss the food
    not the state or the weather
    #11
    CajunKing
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    Re:Another CT trip: Pepe's, Swanky Franks, Rawley's, Ashley's, Modern Apizza, Donut Dip 2009/04/22 16:45:26 (permalink)
    Gassosa =  The classic Italian Lemon-lime soda that has become our signature soda. It is crisp, refreshing and great on a hot summer day!

    from Foxon Park's website
    #12
    Buffalo Tarheel
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    Re:Another CT trip: Pepe's, Swanky Franks, Rawley's, Ashley's, Modern Apizza, Donut Dip 2009/04/22 17:53:52 (permalink)
    sk bob,

    Thanks for your note.  The food and the company in CT are definitely very good.  The weather has not been so bad because I have not brought the snow along on the last two trips.

    CajunKing,

    Thanks for the note.  If the Gassossa is as good as the white birch beer, then I have brought home some really good stuff.  (I don't know why I didn't look it up instead of taking a guess based on looking at the label).  Now all we need is a summer day!
    #13
    ayersian
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    Re:Another CT trip: Pepe's, Swanky Franks, Rawley's, Ashley's, Modern Apizza, Donut Dip 2009/04/22 18:26:22 (permalink)
    Gassosa goes perfectly, by the way, with a burger from Louis Lunch.  Rob, if only they'd been open when we were in New Haven last week... Chris
    #14
    Root-Beer Man
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    Re:Another CT trip: Pepe's, Swanky Franks, Rawley's, Ashley's, Modern Apizza, Donut Dip 2009/04/23 17:17:56 (permalink)
    Great report. Thanks for the heads up on Foxon, I may just have to place an order with them for some of those beverages. They look tasty!
    #15
    leethebard
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    Re:Another CT trip: Pepe's, Swanky Franks, Rawley's, Ashley's, Modern Apizza, Donut Dip 2009/04/23 18:25:55 (permalink)
      Thanks for a great report...wonderful pictures...nice review...and boy does that Apizza look great...I'll take two to go.
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    TnTinCT
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    Re:Another CT trip: Pepe's, Swanky Franks, Rawley's, Ashley's, Modern Apizza, Donut Dip 2009/04/23 18:34:05 (permalink)
    Rob - we enjoyed our Pepe's adventure with you, Mark, and Chris, also! But am INSANELY jealous of all your fabulous stops the next day!
    - I do prefer Modern over Pepe's, but - it's like ranking one pizza 9.8 out of 10, and the other 9.9, you can't go wrong with either!  Plus, the Manchester Pepe's gets an extra bump for only being 20 minutes instead of an hour away in New Haven LOL.
    - Your pictures are great, I couldn't stop staring at the Swanky Frank's dog, really drool-invoking pic! We haven't made it down to that area of the state for dogs yet, we'll have to put it on our list for this summer sometime.
    Always a terrific read!

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    Michael Hoffman
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    Re:Another CT trip: Pepe's, Swanky Franks, Rawley's, Ashley's, Modern Apizza, Donut Dip 2009/04/23 19:06:32 (permalink)
    Buffalo Tarheel

    All the Roadfood people I have met so far, either in person or via the site, have been great.

    Ah, but you've not met me.

    #18
    Buffalo Tarheel
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    Re:Another CT trip: Pepe's, Swanky Franks, Rawley's, Ashley's, Modern Apizza, Donut Dip 2009/04/23 19:10:50 (permalink)
    Chris,

    I imagine the Gassosa would really taste great with a burger from Louis' Lunch.  Although it was closed last week, that's just another challenge to take on, and I can imagine how sweet victory will taste when we do find it open.  By the way, excellent logbook report on Modern Apizza.

    Root-Beer Man,

    It is a bit pricier by mail order but definitely worth ordering the Foxon Park beverages.  I have enjoyed the ones I have had so far and look forward to trying the rest.  I haven't had Hosmer Mountain beverages yet, but Chris has written a review of them, and I know that they are very good also.  Another good local source of beverages is A-Treat in Allentown, PA, but that's a topic for the next trip I take to the Lehigh Valley (I hope it is soon).

    leethebard,

    Thank you for the note.  I would take a couple of pizzas right now from Modern or Pepe's (and I just finished supper a few minutes ago).  When Chris and I were at Modern, I was not that hungry but managed to eat four slices.  If I had a couple of pizzas here now, I could do some serious damage to them (and to my wasteline as well, but that's another story).

    TnTinCT,

    It was a great adventure Wednesday afternoon, and the more I look back on the more fun I realize that it was.  I was debating which pizza place I like better and am beginning to think that I might like Modern a bit more, but the difference is so small that it really can't be measured.  The Swanky Frank's dog was outstanding, and all I can do to console myself is to make sure to visit Ted's here in Buffalo before long.  If I throw out any more coupons I might be brought up on charges of dereliction to Roadfood duty.

    Rob
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    buffetbuster
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    Re:Another CT trip: Pepe's, Swanky Franks, Rawley's, Ashley's, Modern Apizza, Donut Dip 2009/04/24 08:51:20 (permalink)
    BuffaloTarheel-
    Thanks for another splendid trip report!  I have never been to any of these places, but I was especially interested in what you had to say about Swanky Franks.  Your photos make all the food look so good!
    post edited by buffetbuster - 2009/04/24 09:58:03
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    Buffalo Tarheel
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    Re:Another CT trip: Pepe's, Swanky Franks, Rawley's, Ashley's, Modern Apizza, Donut Dip 2009/04/24 12:23:30 (permalink)
    Buffetbuster,
     
    Thank you for the note.  I have been trying out the "macro" setting and no flash on the camera to obtain some better photographs - not that I plan to quit my day job and try to make a living at photography.  Swanky Franks was definitely a great stop, and the hot dog was very memorable.  It's a long drive from Hartford when I am in that area, but the spicy hot dog and homemade fries make it worth going to.
    #21
    Baah Ben
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    Re:Another CT trip: Pepe's, Swanky Franks, Rawley's, Ashley's, Modern Apizza, Donut Dip 2009/05/12 20:14:46 (permalink)
    Buffalo - I can't believe I missed your fantastic report.  Thanks so much for these great pictures.  My next trip to NJ, I am going to New Haven!  I don't care what that encompasses.  I am going there!  I'll leave at like 9:30 AM after the traffic rush.  It will take me about 2 hours..It will be worth it.

    Oh those pizzas...Maybe Lombardi's in NYC is like New Haven?   But, Patsy's up in Spanish Harlem sure didn't look anything like these in your pictures!! Patsy's is supposedly one of NYC's best.  All I can say is it was good..far from great.  We have just as good in Daytona Beach and Holly Hill..seriously.   But New Haven...Jeeze those look wonderful.

    I have wanted to get to Modern and Pepe's for years ever since I started seeing all these wonderful pictures!  Finally got to Philly..New Haven is next!
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    Buffalo Tarheel
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    Re:Another CT trip: Pepe's, Swanky Franks, Rawley's, Ashley's, Modern Apizza, Donut Dip 2009/05/12 21:23:49 (permalink)
    Baah Ben,

    Thanks for your kind words.  It's been a long time since I was in NYC, and I don't think I had any of the good pizza when I was there, so I have no good comparison to the New Haven pizza.  I will say that I am missing the pizza from Modern and from Pepe's.  I think I was spoiled with three trips within a short time, and now I appreciate the withdrawal pains of those separated from the good stuff.  It looks like another trip to CT and New Hampshire in June, and I will be certain to eat well then.
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    quijote
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    Re:Another CT trip: Pepe's, Swanky Franks, Rawley's, Ashley's, Modern Apizza, Donut Dip 2009/05/22 00:32:58 (permalink)
    This is a marvellous report with excellent pics. The pizzas look especially good, and now I'm craving pizza at midnight!  I really like the diversity of the goods consumed, and I love vintage donut shops.

    I'll have to look to see where exactly all of these places are. Later this year and next year I'll be spending some time in CT, around the New Canaan area. I hope some of these places are close by.
    #24
    Buffalo Tarheel
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    Re:Another CT trip: Pepe's, Swanky Franks, Rawley's, Ashley's, Modern Apizza, Donut Dip 2009/05/22 15:59:35 (permalink)
    Quijote,

    Thanks very much for the note.  I have just returned from a trip not too far from your area (south Chicago and northwest Indiana) and managed to eat pretty well, although not the mass quantities of the last CT trip.  You are right about the donut shops.  The donuts from Donut Dip lasted a few days at home, and now I am looking forward to getting some more on the next trip.

    Rob
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    exsquidao
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    Re:Another CT trip: Pepe's, Swanky Franks, Rawley's, Ashley's, Modern Apizza, Donut Dip 2009/05/22 19:24:44 (permalink)
     Foxon Park is NOT in New Haven (blech) it is in EAST HAVEN (STAVEN) in the FOXON section of that fair town, please note this.
    #26
    Michael Hoffman
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    Re:Another CT trip: Pepe's, Swanky Franks, Rawley's, Ashley's, Modern Apizza, Donut Dip 2009/05/22 19:51:11 (permalink)
    exsquidao

     Foxon Park is NOT in New Haven (blech) it is in EAST HAVEN (STAVEN) in the FOXON section of that fair town, please note this.


    It's address is East Haven, but it's all New Haven, more Foxon than anything else, and it's all traprock.
    #27
    Buffalo Tarheel
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    Re:Another CT trip: Pepe's, Swanky Franks, Rawley's, Ashley's, Modern Apizza, Donut Dip 2009/05/22 20:04:07 (permalink)
    exsquidao

     Foxon Park is NOT in New Haven (blech) it is in EAST HAVEN (STAVEN) in the FOXON section of that fair town, please note this.


    Oops!  I looked up the web site for Foxon Park Beverages, and apparently E-A-S-T spells N-E-W for me.  Not doubting you but just wondering what I did.   At least I had the state right ... didn't I?
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    carolina bob
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    Re:Another CT trip: Pepe's, Swanky Franks, Rawley's, Ashley's, Modern Apizza, Donut Dip 2009/05/22 21:05:52 (permalink)
    Rob, those are some great photos. The sausage pizzas from Pepe's and Modern look sooooo good! One way or another, I'm gonna get to New Haven someday.
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    ellen4641
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    Re:Another CT trip: Pepe's, Swanky Franks, Rawley's, Ashley's, Modern Apizza, Donut Dip 2009/05/22 21:39:42 (permalink)
    nocarolina

    Rob, those are some great photos. The sausage pizzas from Pepe's and Modern look sooooo good! One way or another, I'm gonna get to New Haven someday.

    Now it looks like we've got a TIE for Roadfooder NEWBIE of the year !
    You and Buffalo Tarheel are both amazing!
     
    Hey, BUFFALO Rob, you have a real knack for photographing those hot dogs...
    the one you took at SWANKY FRANKS could win an award....it really glistens!
     
    I had the pleasure of doing the CT hot dog and pizza scene last summer, once with Doggydaddy, (aka Mark),
    and once with Rpalmer...     my trip report is in these archives SOMEwhere...

     
    #30
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