Right off I-95, in New Haven Connecticut, is a much-beloved pizza parlor with amazing pies. The coal oven is unassuming at first. But when they open that fire door, it appears cathedral like in size inside the oven. When I was there, they had no less then 8 pizzas firing in the oven and there was room for many more. I stood in amazement when the staff operated twenty-foot long peels with ease and dexterity. But there\’s one more fact you should know about this place: it has the country\’s #1 pizza on their menu.
The Country\’s Number One Pizza
Several years ago I made a road trip to Gloucester, Massachusetts. While planning that trip, I accidentally learned about a pizza that was ranked number one in the country – and it happened to be along our travel route. Once I learned about the pizza, I had to stop and sample it. We arrived late on a Friday night to find a two hour long wait for pizzas. The locals were lined around the block, and the neighborhood was choked with cars, including mine.
Luckily we had called ahead while we were on the highway, so we grabbed our pizzas and continued to our hotel. It was our first time time trying Frank Pepe\’s pizza pies. And one of them was the infamous White Clam pie. It was everything everyone ever said about it. This pizza is worthy of the #1 ranking.
I counted myself a fan of the Clam Pie and never forgot the meal. So years later when it was time to head up to New Bedford, Massachusetts – I knew what we would be doing!
New Tradition? Yes!
On my second trip to Massachusetts we repeated our steps and ordered pizza from the road. This time we were much earlier in the day and arrived around 2pm on Friday, so the pizzeria wasn\’t jammed packed with diners. We were able to stop and eat at Pepe\’s place and enjoy the ambiance. Weirdly the pizza arrived with the craziest cut pattern – making weird and odd slices on our pie! But for some reason, this only made the uniqueness of the experience better. We ate our amazing pizza, drank our cold drinks, and chuckled over the odd traditions I seem to collect.
After our meal, I stood in the kitchen and watched as the workers expertly handled twenty foot peels slipping pizza in and out of the oven. I was fixated. If I was responsible for putting pizza pies in that oven, I would drop more than I baked, and I would certain decapitate someone with those massive poles. You should know that if you eat at Frank Pepe\’s, your pizza is not only a wonderful product of fine cooking – but the result of true skill.
I do believe we have a new tradition. If we are making our way north and heading through Connecticut, I do believe I\’ll be stopping by Frank Pepe\’s for pizza every time. Each time, I plan to get a different pie until I\’ve sampled all of their amazing pies.
If you are anywhere near New Haven, add this to your must-do list.
P.S.: if you are like me, I didn\’t know what the device was called that was used to shovel pizza in and out of the oven. It is apparently called a peel: