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Frank Pepe in Manchester,CT w/pix

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gordon wing Oct 19, 2007 09:02 AM

stopped by for lunch - little after Noon on Tuesday before we were to fly back home to California. It was about half full when we walked in - service was good and the wait for our pie was not long. I've been to Sally's and Modern in New Haven but not Frank Pepe's. Our pie was with mushrooms, mozzerella and sausage. We got a medium which was very generous for the two of us. We did enjoy the leftovers at the airport though. Crust had a nice char in spots and the sausage had a good fennel flavor. Quite a bit of oil/grease in the middle of the pie - blotted with the napkins to avoid a mess while eating. Liked the pieces with crust a lot - the middle pieces without crust were not as crispy. Once again I remembered that these pies are better with fewer ingredients ....... not sure I'd do the mushrooms again - not that flavorfull and they might have added more moisture to the pie.

Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana
221 Buckland Hills Drive - across from Sears
Manchester, CT
860. 644-7333

 
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  1. j
    JayCT RE: gordon wing Oct 19, 2007 10:12 AM

    Someone who is a regular in New Haven told me that the Manchester Pepe's has got their act together and their pizza is just as good as the New Haven original. Haven't been yet but will check it out next itme I am up there for lunch. Jay

    4 Replies
    1. re: JayCT
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      ctflowers RE: JayCT Oct 20, 2007 10:52 PM

      There was a review in Saturday's Journal Inquirer newspaper, and they gave the Manchester Pepe's a great review! (I haven't tried it yet though)

      1. re: ctflowers
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        sodagirl RE: ctflowers Oct 21, 2007 06:47 PM

        Greg Moragos article in the Courant last Thursday re Pepe's was a statement from someone who has little to offer about food fundamentals but much to say about perception and unimportant nuance...a crutch he has had to endure for many years.

        His lack of extended experience on a Saturday night saute line, and the insight earned from that line of work... becomes more and more visible with every review...

        I won't dwell on his insulting stab in the eye to the people of Manchester...while he states that we are somewhat of a food vacumn...well...sure...we have Cavey's, Ullianao's bread, Great Harvest, Shady Glen, Sinnamon Shop, Sukathai, Wooster St., Mulberry St...and a great culinary program at MCC... and now...Frank Pepe's... someone in this town knows how to cook...

        While Pepe's may make a great pizza... (I have had two since they opened..both were salty and greasy compared to the original...I am waiting and hoping for better...)

        I just always thought the entire experience was how a restaurant is judged...it is not just about the clam pie.

        I wonder if Mr. Morago would go into Cavey's and be served frozen broccoli and spinach... along with miniscule soda glasses... in a bland room with photo copies of original prints and had to sit in a rock hard seat surrounded by "Mall People" illuminated with blaring white lights...would he give the same benediction even if the Saltimbocca was really, really good. (and it was last week)

        Some things...despite the benefit of tradition are just plain bad...cutting corners for eighty years...well I am glad cardiac phycisians don't follow the same habit.

        If Pepes can't seem to realize how good the whole experience could be with a little creativity...can all restaurants expect the same treatment? If so there will be alot of three star places floating around...

        In any regard...

        I just can't wait till my next trip over to Blueback Square...I heard those people on the other side of the river have all their teeth, don't marry their cousins and know real eat'n when they see it.

        (Just a question...the photo in the paper did not look like the oven in the new Pepes'...could it have been one from New Haven? I may be wrong...)

        1. re: sodagirl
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          FoodieJim RE: sodagirl Oct 23, 2007 06:01 AM

          Your take on GM is spot on. How the Courant engaged a guy who routinely writes about women's shoes and the resurgence of nipples in mainstream culture (I'm not making that up) got to be a restaurant "critic" is beyond me. He is more about the places to "be seen" than he is about food. Embarrasing.

          As for Pepe's in Manchester, I have to agree that progress dictates that one learn from past mistakes and strive to improve. Replicating everything about the New Haven location is not necessarily wise or warranted. Everyone in the world abhors the glasses at Pepe's. So why bring their dopplegangers to Manchester? As for the oven, I read that they took a cast iron mold of the original oven to replicate its look precisely. If so, I'm not sure how one could tell the difference from a newspaper close-up photo. I doubt they'd go to New Haven to shoot the old oven to use in a story about the new location.

          Finally, I too have heard from a NH regular that the Manchester pizza (when ordered correctly) is excellent. I plan to get there this weekend, if I can get my "East-Of-The River" vehicle off its blocks, arrange for a "supervised release" visit for my incarcerated child/nephew, and get my wife's false teet back from the pawn shop. And hopefully, I will be able to resist the urge to go to one of Manchester's "only" other food options, like Red Robin or Hooters.

          1. re: FoodieJim
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            sodagirl RE: FoodieJim Oct 24, 2007 03:02 PM

            You get it...thanks...

            I actually walked into Pepe's in August... before it opened and they were buidling the oven...(you can walk in almost anywhere if you are dressed nicely and act like you are some sort of inspector)...I talked to the mason ...said I worked for the mall...they were very open..I even saw the drawings etc...we laughed because they could not get some of the bricks to fit and I told them to just file them down...they said...we'll use a hammer but it will get done...

            Regarding the picture...they either put up a the mold and the bricks are aging very quickly...but when I was in last week and I watched closely...it just didnt look the same...I'll be honest...really trying to catch the Courant doing something...they have shrunken their food section to a mish mash of articles pulled from the news wires...and I'll take the picture in with me next time...

            we shall see

    2. shipwreck RE: gordon wing Oct 25, 2007 08:19 AM

      Thanks for the reviews!

      I live in Atlanta but my family is CT so Pepe's has been a religious experience for me since I was a kid (we always go to the original). I heard the second one (Milford, was it?) was second rate and last time we were up (August) the talk of the third one opening in Manchester was the talk of the town.

      I guess we'll stick with the original on our usual pilgrimmage.

      4 Replies
      1. re: shipwreck
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        JayCT RE: shipwreck Oct 25, 2007 10:28 AM

        Shipwreck - The second Frank Pepe's is located on Commerce Drive in Fairfield. I found the people that spoke poorly of it were those who felt that nothing but the original New Haven location is worthy of the Frank Pepe name. Most of the locals that I know that go to the Fairfield location like it a lot even the ones that use to make the trek to New Haven regularly. It always seems crowded when I go by there. I would not necessarily believe everyone's posts. Try it for yourself and see if you agree. Jay

        1. re: JayCT
          shipwreck RE: JayCT Oct 25, 2007 12:08 PM

          I've never met a Pepe's pie I didn't like. I'll give it a shot next time I'm up.

          1. re: shipwreck
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            CTGirl100 RE: shipwreck Oct 31, 2007 10:51 AM

            Where exactly in Manchester is Pepe's? I know where Evergreen Walk is and the movie theater if that helps with directions.

            1. re: CTGirl100
              mels RE: CTGirl100 Nov 1, 2007 06:09 AM

              It is across the street from the mall, just past Target/Lowes (if they are on your left) on the same side of the road.

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        Jestner RE: gordon wing Oct 31, 2007 03:59 PM

        I find consistency slipping badly at Pepe's, including the New Haven location. Some days the pizza is classic Pepe's, and other days its very much average. I have noticed this over the course of a bunch of visits over the course of the year - both lunch and supper. Perhaps they are so busy opening new locations, that they forgot about the pizza. Pepe's has lost its luster to me.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Jestner
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          Lanster RE: Jestner Nov 1, 2007 10:59 AM

          Had a clam pie yesterday. Greasy? Yes? Good? Oh yes!

          1. re: Lanster
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            sodagirl RE: Lanster Nov 1, 2007 04:29 PM

            Pepes is sure lucky they have that clam pie!

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          thebordella RE: gordon wing Nov 1, 2007 04:40 PM

          I am no expert on New Haven pizza. I have been to Pepe's NH twice in my life, both in the last two years, about a year apart.

          Two best pizzas of my life. And...I hail from metro NY. Love lots of pies in NYC and suburbs. But Pepe's blew...me...away. And I haven't even tried the clam pie yet. (Pepperoni so far.)

          Sorry to hijack the thread a little -- haven't been to any of the newer Pepe's yet. Just had to put in my props to Pepe's. Can't wait to get back to NH.

          As for the little glasses -- buy a pitcher. As for the "bland" decor and the "total experience", the party's in your mouth. You're there to eat the food. You want a beautiful picture, bring a copy of Martha Stewart Living with you.

          4 Replies
          1. re: thebordella
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            Jestner RE: thebordella Nov 1, 2007 08:20 PM

            First off - you will surely enjoy the white clam if you like clams and garlic. I think its a great pie.

            Second, I didn't see the bland decor comment the same way. I gathered that the poster's intent was general disagreement with Pepe's copying this blandish decor to all the locations - where it becomes intentional rather than just how the chips fall.

            1. re: Jestner
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              sodagirl RE: Jestner Nov 2, 2007 04:16 PM

              I am glad you two have such loyalty...if you look...really look... for new places...you will find out that there are others...I know several in CT and if you look at my threads you will see some mentioned...but for Pete's sake... I know three or four in NYC alone.

              I am headed to LA on Monday morning to go to Mozza's...we'll see what it offers look for my post. (Word has it the glasses are really big and the atmosphere is wonderful)

              1. re: sodagirl
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                plafield RE: sodagirl Nov 11, 2007 03:23 PM

                Sodagirl: What/where is Ullianao's bread? Have I missed a real bakery in the greater Hartford area? I know about Harvest (great at what they do) and the Italian bakeries in the South end of Hartford, but to my knowledge, that's it for real, fresh (not previously frozen as dough) loaves anywhere in the area.

                I am constantly bummed out that I can't get a real French baquette or croissant anywhere and can't believe I'm the only Hartford suburbanite that feels this way but most people around here seem content to buy their baked goods at the Stop&Shop "bakery" or Panera. Boggles my mind.

                1. re: sodagirl
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                  Earle RE: sodagirl Nov 12, 2007 03:06 AM

                  Ullianao's bakery is on Spruce street in manchester. He still makes his own dought and cook's it in a brick lined oven. The round loaf is just amazing in taste and texture. The outside is a thick crust and the inside is a nice soft and thick dough bread. Im sure you will like it. Earle

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              lonborgfan RE: gordon wing Nov 11, 2007 04:26 PM

              Made a trek to the Manchester location to see what all the buzz was about after talking with a friend who is a diehard fan of the New Haven location. Having never been to the New Haven original, I too was a little surprised by the spartan atmosphere of the restaurant. I walked in shortly after opening to order a small pizza to go and was told they had been hit with a big to-go order and that the first available time was an hour later. Is this normal operating for Pepe's? I killed an hour at the mall and returned for my sausage pizza. My first impression was that it was greasy but as I ate the next few bites, the tang of the cheese and the taste of the sausage combined with the sauce and charred crust won me over. The sausage tasted like someone with close ties to Italy had actually made the sausage. This may have ruined my local pizza joint pizza for me. I am anxious to go back and try the clam pizza. The big question to all the diehard fans of it, cheese or no cheese?

              6 Replies
              1. re: lonborgfan
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                cheshirecat RE: lonborgfan Nov 12, 2007 12:58 PM

                Easy question for my taste.. no cheese except a sprinkle from the grated cheese container in the table. Usually, when you order the white clam pizza, the server doesn't ask, just assumes you want it pure.

                1. re: cheshirecat
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                  Jestner RE: cheshirecat Nov 12, 2007 01:32 PM

                  No mozz - but make sure you specify as I had a run in with an inexperienced waitress at the New Haven location a couple months back. When the pie came with mozz on it - I told her that I didn't order it with mozz and she was stammering that mozz is a default (which has certainly not the case in my experience). Luckily one of the other waitresses heard what was going on, and made everything right.
                  Moral of story - be as specific as you can be.

                  There definitely are good pizza places all over the place to try though.

                  As for fresh bread in the Hartford area - if you want another place to check out, you can head to Michael's Bakery on Main St in East Hartford. They will slice it for you if so desired as well.

                  1. re: Jestner
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                    sodagirl RE: Jestner Nov 13, 2007 09:29 AM

                    Glad you found Ullianos...they only make a couple of shapes...same bread...but they do make a secret sandwich every day...salami and peppers...they are wrapped up and behind the register...they don;t advertise but are pretty tasty...ask for it..only about three bucks.

                    Another Bakery is in Collinsville...I think of the same name...small place in a small town..so find Collinsville and the bakery is there...

                    I ate at Mozza's in LA last week...I posted my experience but the Chow police pulled it because it was about an LA restaurant in a New England board...in the end ...it was good food but they don't make pizza in LA...

                    1. re: sodagirl
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                      Jestner RE: sodagirl Nov 13, 2007 01:27 PM

                      Ullianos - now that is some rough pizza. Don't know anything about their subs - but the pizza was plain bad.

                      1. re: Jestner
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                        sodagirl RE: Jestner Nov 16, 2007 06:46 AM

                        I think we are talking about two different places...Ullianos in Manchester on Spruce St

                        (across from Sportsmans Tavern...stories for another time)...

                        small little place only makes loaves of bread...round, footballs and grinder rolls...no pizza...and the make one sandwich...salami and peppers...roller up in butcher paper...stacked behionmd the counter ...no menu..and no pizza...has real screen door and never has the lights on in the summer...you have to look or you willmiss it...

                        I go to Mulberry St in Manchester for pizza...it is just over the highway on South Main St...great for slices and sandwiches too...only take out...great people and energy...

                        I had lunch at First and Last yesterday (Avon)...they were serving Colchester Black Bread with seeds...never saw them use it before...unfortunately a little old...but great with their lentil soup.

                    2. re: Jestner
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                      lonborgfan RE: Jestner Nov 26, 2007 06:20 AM

                      Thanks chesirecat and Jestner for the recommendations on the cheese. I'll give it a try when I'm back in Manchester. I'm also looking forward to checking out Ulliano's as well.

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                  silver queen RE: gordon wing Nov 26, 2007 01:42 PM

                  We stopped off driving back to Boston today. Got there about 1:30 in the afternoon and it wasn't very crowded. Pizza took a while to come, but maybe it always does as it's cooked to order. Actually we were probably there about an hour, maybe it just seemed like a long wait since we were anticipating our first Pepe's.

                  I've never been into the original, so I can't compare, but man, was that a good pie! We got a small white clam (no cheese) and both loved it. Very crispy, a bit charred, tasty clams and LOTS of garlic. I liked it better than Regina's and Santarpio's in Boston, although they don't do clam, so perhaps it's not a fair comparison. The cheese and tomato pies around us looked great too, so we'll have to try them next time.

                  It's pretty easy on/off the highway and has a parking lot, so it's a great road food option as long as you've got a little time.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: silver queen
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                    JayCT RE: silver queen Nov 28, 2007 05:03 AM

                    Good pizza is worth the wait, especially when it is made fresh to order. Jay

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                    annlouise RE: gordon wing Apr 13, 2008 09:55 AM

                    Pepe's is very overrated. Got takeout last night and the pizza was terrible. The sauce had no taste, crust was dry, overall bad, bad, bad. This is my third time trying, hoping it will get better. I have had the NH original and it was better although I prefer Sally's.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: annlouise
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                      ratbuddy RE: annlouise Apr 14, 2008 05:29 PM

                      Are you sure the crust was just dry? It wasn't overly salty like the time I tried it?

                      No mention of the burnt cheese, either? Hmm..

                      Maybe they HAVE improved from horrible to just mediocre..

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