Pepe's pizza in Fairfield
I'll preface by saying I love going to Pepe's Pizza in New Haven and think nothing of driving an hour to get there, then wait on line another hour to eat their amazing white clam and tomato pies. But I was curious to try the new Pepe's in Fairfield - much closer to my home. My wife and I went there last weekend.
The pizza is distinctly and profoundly inferior to the pizza in New Haven. We both noticed it with the first bite and it was consistent with both pies. The pizza looks different and has lost that earthy brick oven taste of the New Haven Pepe's. The crust, which is "to die for" in New Haven, is mediocre in Fairfield.
I wonder what others' experiences have been - but in the future I'll drive the extra miles to go to New Haven.
Oh, that's disappointing to hear. We had been looking forward to trying the Fairfield shop (my wife grew up in New Haven and the whole family worships the stuff).
I've seen it before. A pizza oven makes the pizza. We have a local place whose success spelled the doom of its pie. They did such a great business that they bought bigger new ovens. Ooops. After that the pizza was never the same again.
Strongly disagree . . . it took a while, but my last two experiences at Fairfield have been every bit as good as New Haven, with a shorter drive and wait . . . White Clam Pie, and Pepperoni w/ grated cheese only
FWIW--returning to NYC after a job in New Haven on Saturday, I was tantalized to be so near Pepe's but unable to leave a car full of gear unattended so I did Fairfield instead. I had a white clam pie and a tomato/mozz. pie, stuffing a bit of each in my face in the car before consigning the rest to be reheated at home. If NH Pepe's is a 10, I'd rate these 8.5. Pretty damned good. Good crust, very good char. Good garlic action on the clams. The red pie's cheese was oddly a bit sour tasting--not very objectionable but surprising.
All in all, I would recognize the pies as definitely Pepe's. The place smelled like Pepe's. If it wasn't heaven, it was not disappointing either.
Never been to the original in New Haven but had for quite some time heard about - even from a former colleague, a New Yorker living in London who would travel from Manhattan every time he came in on business - thus we (myself, husband and daughter) had high expectations when we finally went to the Fairfield store in early October and it delivered. We all thought it was great. The white clam pizza was amazing and I now crave it regularly.
Went back a second time a few weeks later - took my parents as my father is quite the pizza maven - and it was great again. He loved it too.
We live in Westchester and are going to Vermont for Thanksgiving and returning Sunday afternoon so was thinking about trying the original in New Haven on the way back. If we do that, I'll post. But, to date, without NH for comparison, I'm perfectly happy with Fairfield and the 40 minute ride to get there.
I previously posted that I did not like the Fairfield incarnation of Pepe's, but after some cajoling I tried it again. And like it. Very much.
Grew up eating Pepe's (and sally's and modern) religiously, we lived near fairfield and always drove to NH for appiza, now fairfield pepe's opens and boom- i do believe it's every bit as good as the original and some pies even better. i was there 2 nights ago and had a flawless half chicken half bacon pie- absolutely delicious, great char to the crust, excellent fresh bacon, snarky chicken, and just overall stupendous! i've had many great pies at fairfield pepe's now and must say that it is very much as good as the NH pepe's. personally i always preferred sally's, but that is also much more of a shrek. be aware that these days fairfield pepe's often has a very long line and does not accept take out orders when they are very busy. for example, i was driving through on tuesday night at 9:30 and called to get a pie to go- they were not accepting take out orders, so at 9:45 i walked in- almost every table was still full and they were closing at 10! i asked why they weren't accepting to go orders and they said they were swamped- on a tuesday night at 9:30! so obviously somebody is digging pepe's fairfield- including me! i also talked to the nice woman behind the counter and she said that the ingredients are exactly the same- I believe the difference in crust is a difference in the quality of the water- having eaten pizzas in napoli recently, many people say the reason the pizza (and espresso) is so great in napoli is the quality of the water- new haven and fairfield must have some different mineral content in their waters, but i personally enjoy the crust at fairfield pepe's better! regardless, they are all delicious pies so eat and enjoy! frankbooth
jfood should preface this by stating he is a Sally's fan. but driving to fairfield for some fried calms we decided to try pepe's instead. weather is gloomy and more a pizza day than clams.
two of us split a medium half bacon/sausage (red) and half clam (white). jfood has to apologize but the pie just did not do it for him. The clams did have a nice briney quality but the preparation was soooo uneven that one bite you'd get a mouthful of clams and the next a mouthful of garlic. in spots it was also waaaaay too salty (even considering the brine).
The other half (bacon and sausage) was equally disappointing. most of the bacom was raw and needed to be discarded and the sausage was basically flavorless will a little fennel seeds. cheese was non-existent and the sauce was way too sweet for jfood's taste.
Also a head's up is order the pitcher of soda versus a glass. The glass is a teenie 6 oz'er with ice, so a couple of sips and empty-ville.
The service was fantastic. Waitress was as friendly and pleasant as can be. Also the wiat on this glooomy day was a couple of minutes.
Would jfood drive back to fairfield for another. He would probably blow by the exit and continue to NH and go to Sally's.
sorry to read of your disappointment. i had two pretty good experiences late winter/fall when the clams were plump and sweet. the garlic and hint of salt on the wonderful crust met my expectations. i wonder if the time of year makes a difference for the clam pie?
i also tried a sausage pie that was very flavorful. i experienced none of the shortcomings you listed. shellyesq is right about ordering the 40 oz. bottle of soda. take the leftover home. me? i'll stick with a good italian beer.
i would never "split" a pie with such disparate toppings. it's just way too hard to judge the correct baking time. balancing everything to achieve a desired whole is not trivial.
in short, i hope you give the place another shot. i hate it when a place i recommend fails to pass muster.
re: steve h.
Not a problem. jfood feels the same way when he reads about Napa, as you also posted on that site last week in your paws/pause comment (nice).
Jfood has noticed a pizza downturn recently in his life. His favorite in his home town fell off the cliff when the pizza guy retired and the replacement is lousy, 5/month now to zero.
It's almost time to sneak to NJ and go to spiritos for a fix. Or maybe just head to Colony for a hot-oil pie.
IMO, the best topping at Pepe's is the Pepperoni . . . small, thick lean discs with a fine grind, unlike the (typical pizzeria) coarse grind . . . I like the pie w/o mozzarella, grated cheese only, which cuts the grease factor way down and keeps the crust crispy
We stopped there late one afternoon. There were no more than six tables occupied at that time. We ordered a pie and waited... waited..... waited........waited. When the pie finally arrived it had a one inch ring of solid carbonized crust. When I complained, the waitress said, "That's our signature." We've eaten at Sallys and Pepes in New Haven, Patsys in Harlem, Lombardos in SOHO and many more, charring is one thing, this was cremation. I pointed to a pie at the next table which lacked the "signature" that our's had and asked for one just like that one. We haven't been back since or have any plans to do so again.
I disagree-----I used to work in New Haven and went to Pepe's there quite a bit. I live in Fairfield and was thrilled when it arrived. I honestly think it is just as good---- and my family goes often. I like the fact that they now serve salads (New Haven still doesn't, as far as I know)---even though it isn't consistent with the original.
Maybe you went on an off day - we have not been disappointed at the Fairfield location. maybe it did not seem as good because you did not have to build up an appetite while waiting an hour plus for a pie (hee hee hee). But seriously - I would say where NH is a 10 - fairfield is certainly an 8 1/2 or 9 in our book.
My very first and second Fairfield Pepe's white clam pie experiences (I was a Pepe's virgin, having never been to the original one) were, respectively, three weeks ago and one week ago. The first visit was on a weeknight, at prime pizza time, and we waited a half hour to be seated. The pie was sublime, and despite the long wait, I was eager to return when I realized I'd be back in Bridgeport. The second visit was earlier in the day, and we were seated immediately in an almost empty restaurant. So it seemed like a perfect experience was underway. Unfortunately, the pie was a big disappointment--huge, tough clams scattered so unevenly that one piece had none at all, bitter garlic and a odd metallic taste that I couldn't place (maybe from dried parsley?). I think this may explain the very different reviews here. I suspect they have uneven staffing, with inadequate oversight by management--not surprising, since I expect it's harder to find good help in Fairfield County than up in New Haven, and the New Haven management/owners can't be in two places at once to run things. Not knowing which pizza I'd get, I'm not likely to go back.