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Pepe's, Sally's or Modern

I apologize if this has been covered to death but I have never had a New Haven Pie (not interested in Clam), we are travelling back on train from NYC to Union Station, New Haven in October on a Sunday around 7 pm (we will have a car in New Haven); We would like to pick up a pie before driving to Boston but we don't want to wait 1-2 hours in line. Suggestions please?

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  1. I have never experienced the legendary New Haven Pie, won't anyone help!!!

    1 Reply
    1. re: bakerboyz

      i've only had pepe's once, but for what it's worth, it ROCKED! and i've heard sally's is as good if not better....

    2. Well-- you will get a million different responses...some even saying that it's not worth it at all. I love New Haven pizza. I think all of these places are great. You'll probably have the shortest wait at Modern, and I think it's every bit as good as the other two, especially if you don't care about clams.
      A good resource for hearing a bit more about the pizza is roodfood.com

      1 Reply
      1. re: madisoneats

        Thank you. I did go to Roadfood.com, they reviewed all 3 and gave them all great reviews, I think I will try wherever there is the shortest wait (looks like Modern).

      2. You're in luck: 91 (and counting!) replies on this very topic: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/394240

        1. Personally I think Modern is head and shoulders above the other two. The wait at Modern almost never approaches an hour, and shouldn't be more than half an hour on a Sunday evening. Sundays are when I usually go, and there have been times when the wait was less than ten minutes. Pepe's and Sally's will always have longer waits, but still shouldn't be too bad. Pepe's and Sally's are a bit closer to Union Station, but Modern is a bit easier to get to as it is on the same street as Union Station (Union Ave becomes State St where it intersects with Frontage Rd).

          3 Replies
          1. re: danieljdwyer

            What do you think, traditional pepperoni or Italian Bomb?

              1. re: bakerboyz

                While I don't share the view that Modern is head and shoulders above Pepe's--I think they're each really good for their own reasons (haven't been to Sally's in years)--at Modern I love the onion pie (just sauce, mozz, and onions) or hot peppers with bacon. Both great.

                I know I'll get flak for this, but at Pepe's, in addition to the classics already mentioned, I really like a white pie with onion, spinach, and chicken. Not traditional, I know, but there's something about the way Pepe's scorching oven cooks the chicken that makes it really delicious and unique.

            1. Pepe's. FIL likes Modern better, but H and I love us some Pepe's. If you are calling in for take-out, you shouldn't have a wait (did I misinterpret "pick up"?). I swear they put crack in that sauce, I crave it. I get spinach and Italian sausage, but their white clam pie is supposed to be their "thing". I just haven't been able to get excited about seafood on pizza, but that's just me.

              1. Don't knock the clam pie until you've had it. Remember, you're not getting a tomato based pie with mozz. A clam pie is clams, garlic, oregano, olive oil and grated cheese. Think of it like you would clams casino, only you eat it off of the fabulous crust that Pepe's is famous for instead of a clam shell. Add bacon to your clam pie and it becomes even MORE like clams casino.

                5 Replies
                1. re: FoodieJim

                  Actually, I would love to try it but my wife won't eat clams and there's only 2 of us, maybe I could get a small one.

                  1. re: bakerboyz

                    I just went on Modern's website and I think I will get a small clam and a medium pepperoni or bomb.

                    1. re: bakerboyz

                      if you like clams - definitely worth getting a small one. At the Pepe's in Ffld they make a similar pie with Shrimp that is delicious - not the same as a clam pie - but delicious. Don't know if they make it in New Haven though.

                      1. re: annemarie115

                        The clam pie at Modern is not as good as it is at Pepe's. If you are doing take out call Pepe's before you leave New York, it often takes that long. Modern's tomato/mozz. is excellent and you will have a shorter wait since (20-30 minutes) they have a second oven that they use for takeout. They also make a great white spinich and garlic

                        1. re: mmalmad

                          Now I am thinking a Clam Pie from Pepe's and the Bomb from Modern; they are fairly close and then I can jump on 95 to Boston.

                2. Go to Modern and call ahead from the road for takeout. It will kill you if you do decide to wait in line at sally's and they let people in the back door ("specail people") who never had to wait in line at all. I just went to Sally's after not having been for 20 years and I don't think it's as good as it once was. (i like pepe's but long, long, long line) fayefood.com

                  10 Replies
                  1. re: fayehess

                    how is the wait at Pepe's 1 ish Sat.

                      1. re: phelana

                        Taken directly from their website:
                        FRANK PEPE PIZZERIA NAPOLETANA
                        Mon - Sat 11:30 AM - 10:00PM
                        Sunday… NOON - 10:00PM

                        Not sure where the "not open for lunch" comment came from. In any event, if you are thinking about going on 11/17, the football game will be underway by 1:00, and the school is on break. With a chill in the air, I would not expect a long wait at 1:00. Don't even think about going after 3:00, as the Yale Bowl crowd will start to make its way to Wooster Street between 3:30 and 4:00 and will tie the place up until closing.

                        1. re: FoodieJim

                          I've had several times I've shown up to Pepe's with a handwritten "we're opening at 4pm today" sign on the door. However, they are generally open.

                          Sally's is definitely not open for lunch, however.

                          1. re: kaszeta

                            my bad.. for some reason, i was thinking you were asking about sally's.. this is typical of my attention span while working. sorry!

                            1. re: goodbyeohio

                              These three places aren't bad, but are definitely past their prime. And no one ever mentions Grand Apizza which some will claim belongs right up with the "big 3". Most people I know around here will go to these three almost only when they have visitors from out of town. It's best to look beyond these three alone. Just a few. Ernies- Whalley Av in the Amity section of New Haven. Mr Bimonte's- Cheshire. Rossini's- Cheshire. Si Mangia- Hamden. Tolli's- East Haven. Zuppardi's- West Haven. Pacileo's- Branford. That's right. Branford. Naples- New Haven/right near Yale's Woolsey Hall, Silliman College, Scroll & Key, etc. If you've never been to New Haven, be warned that there are several Greek pizza shops in the area. Most are good for what they are, but this isn't New Haven Pizza. Two good examples are Yorkside Pizza/right next door to Toad's Place, and Alpha Delta/across from Rudy's.

                              1. re: ugctenor

                                Rookie Post:

                                Pepe's, Sally's and Modern are all comparable. However, I like Pepe's the
                                best. I've had pizza all over the U.S. as well as abroad including Italy. I have yet to find pizza that surpasses Pepe's. The white clam is on top of the heap. It even beats out Lombardi's in NYC, imo. I always order at least the white clam with the sausage coming in a close second.

                                1. re: ugctenor

                                  I tried Grand Apizza North in North Haven some time back (not sure if they are run by the same people, or serve the same pie, as Grand Apizza in New Haven) but it was pretty poor.

                                  In my opinion, Mr B's, Rossini's, Si Mangia, and Naples are not really an equivalent to the Big 3 and while I'd eat at these any day, I surely wouldn't recommend any of these to an out of town visitor looking to sample "the" "New Haven" pizza.

                                  This isn't to say that these places don't make a good pizza - all four of those surely do. And all four of those I'd go to without griping - but to me, they just arent in the same style as the big 3. When you are using a Blodgett oven, you automatically cannot recreate what the Big 3 are doing (and thats just one factor that a bunch of these places strike out on). Even when you are using similar methods to cook them, you need the right dough recipe with gives a chewy yet crispy, thin crust. None of those four places have that combination at their disposal. This doesn't discredit them, just gives us more diversity in the pizza space.

                                  All four of these would be standout stars in most locations, and all four are worthwhile places in the area, but to me, they are a slightly different variants. They all have their place - but they aren't what visitors are coming to New Haven to sample.

                                  I have not tried the others on the list and am happy you posted it cause it gives me more places to sample. And your post altogether appears to be a good and helpful starting block for people wanting to try some places in the area and sample some of the variants of New Haven pizza.

                                  1. re: Jestner

                                    You're right about Grand Apizza North. There was some sort of family squabble and it's different now. But as far as other places not being able to recreate the big 3. The big 3 can't even recreate it anymore. So many pizza guys move on as soon as they learn how to cook with that specific oven. They didn't always have the disclaimers in the menues warning you that the pies will most likely come out burned and misshapen.

                                    When Sorrento's of Hamden was at the height of it's "delivery fame" the pies tended to be more consistent on weekend evenings. You would see a dozen or more guys in the kitchen just making pies, half pounding dough and half doing toppings, to keep up with orders. But just one person who did nothing but work the ovens. For a while that was probably the most famous pizza place in the area, with just as many detractors as fans. But no matter how many negative things you may have heard about them, they still needed 12 pizza guys and 12 delivery guys on friday and saturday nights. And the line out the door for order in and takeout rivaled Wooster Street at times. But now that's over too. All new people. Here's a strange thing. Even on those nights, the customer area would be eerily quiet. Nothing like Pepe's on Wooster Street. You'd be surprised at the effect of having cheap paper disposable tableclothes and a disposable cup full of crayons on every table. Somebody really should have saved some of the pizza stained 'artwork' from that place.

                                    1. re: ugctenor

                                      Oh, and I have to give an honorable mention to Tolli's in East Haven.


                      2. Pacileo's Apizza in Branford has to be the best pie I've ever had. Their red sauce is delicious. Perfectly seasoned and so delicious. My favorite white pie is the pesto, artichoke heart and chicken. This is so good, I eat it cold for breakfast.