CONNECTICUT – Frank Pepe’s, the restaurant that made New Haven-style pizza world famous is now open in West Hartford’s Elmwood neighborhood. New Haven-style pizza, also known as apizza is a Neapolitan styled pie that originated at the first Frank Pepe’s in New Haven, Connecticut. Frank Pepe opened his bakery (not pizzeria) in 1925 at 163 Wooster Street, after moving to the United States with his wife from his native Italy. Legend has it that Frank would load the hot pies onto a rolling hand cart and sell them to workers on the streets in New Haven. In 1936 Frank purchased 157 Wooster Street where he opened the pizzeria. Today, the restaurant still remains at it’s original 157 Wooster Street address and has become a Connecticut landmark and tourist attraction. The pizzeria is not only famous because of it’s age and pies. The restaurant was the first of its kind to offer dine in service and one of the first restaurants to load the takeout pizza in a box. The pizza is also pretty darn delicious and it influenced a generation of pizzeria’s in the Elm city. Today, Frank Pepe’s legend extends beyond Connecticut.
I was all too excited when I received an invitation to visit their new West Hartford location where I would finally be able to sample the world famous pies and also to meet and chat with Gary Bimonte, Frank Pepe’s grandson.
The menu is a lot different today from the menu that was available at the original Frank Pepe’s that opened in New Haven in 1936. In addition to their two original pies; tomato pie, with or sans anchovy, the restaurant now offers a variety of Neapolitan styled pizzas including their white clam pizza which was voted number 1 in the United States by the editors of the Daily Meal. The restaurant continues to use the same fresh quality ingredients, most of which are sourced from Italy (including the tomatoes), which made their pies famous and the taste consistent. There is no skimping out on quality or canned ingredients here. For example, the clams used in their award winning white clam pizza is shucked daily at each location. The restaurant also make their sauces and sausages in house.
We started the tasting with the Pepe and the Caesar salad which were both great. As a matter of fact, the restaurant has become one of my go to spots for salads in the Greater Hartford area. The White Clam pizza that is made with fresh shucked clams, garlic, olive oil, and grated cheese was divine. I prefer my pizza with at least one protein source, but the tomato pie, made with tomato, grated cheese, garlic, oregano, and olive oil was excellent. My other favorites were the Margarita and the pepperoni with peppers. The chicken and roasted peppers which was a special request was also excellent. The pies are best when they are hot. The pizza was not greasy, the ingredients didn’t slide off the crust and didn’t sit on my stomach like most pies. I am so glad that I had the chance to sample the pies and that the famous pizzeria is now located minutes from my home.
The West Hartford store is located at 1148 New Britain Avenue in West Hartford and is open Monday through Friday from 11 am to 10 pm. They also have five other locations in Connecticut in addition to their New Haven and West Hartford locations as well as a Yonkers, NY and Chestnut, Hill, MA locations.
DISCLOSURE: I received complimentary pizza’s which allowed me to share my experience with you. My experience might be slightly different from yours but all opinions expressed are honest and were not influenced.