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Pepe's Pizzeria Napoletana

157 Wooster St, New Haven, CT - (203) 865-5762
Posted By Matthew Lupoli on 1/6/2009 12:38:00 PM
I was born and raised in North Haven, hence I was raised on New Haven-style pizza (apizza). I am so used to it that when I moved away to college for four years I thought that I would die without eating a slice of it.

I recently went on a taste test with some of my college friends who have never eaten New Haven pizza before. I took all of them to New Haven's top three: Modern Apizza, Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana, and Sally's Apizza, in that order.

I've heard stories that the staff get pissed off if you don't know what you want when they come to take your order, so we decided on what we wanted while waiting for a booth. We went with a mozzarella pie, a white bacon and peppers pie, and a white clam pie. The white clam pie is a personal favorite of mine, but at other pizzerias I've always ordered it with the "mootz" on it. I had heard that Pepe's recommends getting it without the "mootz" because it overwhelms the taste of the clams and makes the pizza too heavy and rich. Plus, this was the way that Frank Pepe originally made it, so I ordered it without the mootz.

Our first pizza, the mootz pie, came out in under a half hour. It has a very nice balance between the sauce and mootz, and there is not too much olive oil. The crust is nice and thin, and burnt around the edges, just the way I like it. The white bacon and peppers came out next. This is a combo that I have enjoyed at other pizzerias and I certainly liked Pepe's version.

The white clam came out last. I was pretty excited because this was the first time I was eating a white clam pie without mootz. It was incredible! White clam pie without the mootz really is the way to go. I was really able to taste the clams and garlic much better. The only bad thing was that now there wasn't anything holding the clams on. Be careful when picking up a slice or you might lose half of your clams, as I did when I picked up my first slice. Some Foxon Park white birch beer helped these three pizzas go down nice and easy.

After my friends and I had tasted pizza at all three of the well-known New Haven pizzerias, we decided to rate Modern Apizza as first place, Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana as a very close second, and Sally's Apizza as a not so close third place. Pepe's pizza is out of this world, but I just think that Modern is slightly better. I must say though that I was mighty impressed by their white clam pie without the mootz. From now on, no matter which pizzeria I go to, that's how I will order it.

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Scorecard

5 - Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
Rate this place
When the warden asks us what we want for our last meal, this is it: Pepe's white clam pizza.
"When the warden asks us what we want for our last meal, this is it: Pepe's white clam pizza."
Michael Stern





One of Pepe's great combos: roasted red peppers and pepperoni. The peppers, roasted in house, are fresh and full-flavored; the thick disks of pepperoni pack spicy wallop.
"One of Pepe's great combos: roasted red peppers and pepperoni. The peppers, roasted in house, are fresh and full-flavored; the thick disks of pepperoni pack spicy wallop."
Michael Stern


This incredibly simple tomato pie should be ordered as often as possible, just to enjoy the sauce-and-crust combination.
"This incredibly simple tomato pie should be ordered as often as possible, just to enjoy the sauce-and-crust combination."
Chris & Amy Ayers


I've heard much praise over the years for this particular pizza (white clam) and it far exceeded my expectations.  I walked away trying to understand why more pizzerias don't make them this good.  That crust still haunts me three months later.
"I've heard much praise over the years for this particular pizza (white clam) and it far exceeded my expectations. I walked away trying to understand why more pizzerias don't make them this good. That crust still haunts me three months later."
Bill Homan


The texture of a white clam pizza is almost as wonderful as the taste. Note the tender clams, the soft-cooked bits of garlic, the chewy crust .... ah, heaven!
"The texture of a white clam pizza is almost as wonderful as the taste. Note the tender clams, the soft-cooked bits of garlic, the chewy crust .... ah, heaven!"
Michael Stern


Pepe's original tomato pie with mozzarella - large - right out of the oven.
"Pepe's original tomato pie with mozzarella - large - right out of the oven."
Mike Iacoucci


A very dry, crisp, and refreshing lemon soda, my favorite thus far of the Foxon Park line of drinks.
"A very dry, crisp, and refreshing lemon soda, my favorite thus far of the Foxon Park line of drinks."
Bill Homan


A fruit of summer: fresh tomato pie
"A fruit of summer: fresh tomato pie"
Michael Stern


Every time I order the famous white clam pie, I realize that I really don’t want to have to do without it—ever.
"Every time I order the famous white clam pie, I realize that I really don’t want to have to do without it—ever."
Chris & Amy Ayers


Doing the same thing for over 85 years and the commitment to doing it right show in each pie.
"Doing the same thing for over 85 years and the commitment to doing it right show in each pie."
Bill Homan


The famous coal-burning Frank Pepe's oven from 1925.
"The famous coal-burning Frank Pepe's oven from 1925."
Mike Iacoucci


My friend Doug and I finally made it here in July of 2011.  Pepe's has been on my short list of must-try places for quite a few years.
"My friend Doug and I finally made it here in July of 2011. Pepe's has been on my short list of must-try places for quite a few years."
Bill Homan


Part of the experience of a meal at Pepe's is waiting -- first out in the street for a table, then at the table for the pizza to arrive.  By the time you get it, your tastebuds are screaming in desperation.
"Part of the experience of a meal at Pepe's is waiting -- first out in the street for a table, then at the table for the pizza to arrive. By the time you get it, your tastebuds are screaming in desperation."
Michael Stern


This metal arch over Wooster Street welcomes visitors to New Haven's Little Italy:  home of the best pizza on earth.
"This metal arch over Wooster Street welcomes visitors to New Haven's Little Italy: home of the best pizza on earth."
Michael Stern



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