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Frank Pepe's Disappointing

schlimmerkerl Jul 8, 2008 01:51 PM

We were in New Haven Sunday night and stopped at Pepe's for a pie. Since this was supposed to be the best pizza on the planet, we were ready. There was a line out the door and down the block. At "The Spot" also. I knew there was a branch in Fairfield, and since it was on our way home, i went in to ask directions.

I was immediately confronted, both in The Spot (an annex at back of their car park) and the Original with an almost palpable wall of what i can only call bad vibe. Everyone on staff looked like they would rather be elsewhere doing anything else but waiting on you. Nobody was much interested in directing us to the other restaurant. I got either ignored, a blank stare, or "I dunno". I finally spotted a couple walking out with a takeout box. Thereon, i'm not kidding, was the location and phone of the other branches. I copied the phone, called, got (automated) directions and we were off.

We got seated (a wordless over-the-shoulder "follow me" nod from the matré-punk.) (Why do they make you wait outside? What if it was winter?) An anomaly: our waitress was nice. The pizza was all right. Certainly nothing to get excited about. I had white clam with half bacon, no cheese. The clams were fresh. Overall, though, it was very salty. Mrs. S. had spinach. Beer and wine came in thimbles. Should have got a pitcher.

I can't understand why, with a world full of restaurants, customers keep returning to places that treat their customers like crap. It's not cute. It's not part of the funky ambiance. It stinks.

  1. s
    Shawn Jul 8, 2008 02:02 PM

    I lived in New Haven for 10 years and was never a fan of Pepe's. The pizza was good, but I hated the service. I much preferred both the pizza and the atmosphere at Modern. Plus, much as I love pizza, I'm unwilling to stand in a long line for it.

    However, pizza in New Haven is the subject of much spirited debate and everyone is prepared to defend their favorite to the end.

    1. v
      vino5150 Jul 8, 2008 02:46 PM

      Don't feel bad...I've lived in New Haven all of my short 34 years and never saw the reasoning behind it. Pepe's is just the "it" place for pizza for those who don't know any better. What's the term...Lemmings? You see the lines, you get a wiff of the burnt crust in the air...must be good stuff cooking inside? The last time I went there was about 7 years ago and I ordered a nice burnt white clam with yes a jelly jar glass of shitty wine, probably Carlo Rossi. Service sucked beyond belief and that was 7 years ago. Not surprised to see that it hasn't changed. I don't think there is an Italian person anywhere in the kitchen anymore, but besides that...you would think that as they franchised out, they would have some consistency in the recipe and the way the dang thing is cooked. But instead they choose to duplicate the "great" service. If I gotta wait more than an hour for a pizza then it's not worht it. Agreeing with "Shawn"...New Haveners will defend their pizza place to the end. I am not a huge fan of Modern either. I think Grand Apizza does a great job, but I also think that Romas on Main St. in the Annex makes great pie. When I was very young, my family used to go to Bemonte's in Hamden every Saturday. And i can remember his tomatoe pie, no cheese with a huge pitcher of Pepsi to wash it down. Those were the days. There used to be a pizza shack on Ferry years, I mean years, ago who made a fresh white clam that was the best I have ever had. No one to this day has even come close. You could write a Seinfeld episode about Pepe's.

      2 Replies
      1. re: vino5150
        b
        budinado Jul 8, 2008 07:15 PM

        Agree about the atmosphere. Ditto for Sally's. When I want great pizza and atmosphere I now head to Patsy's in Harlem.

        1. re: budinado
          s
          stuartlafonda Jul 9, 2008 09:27 AM

          I love Patsy's East Harlem, it is in my top five favorites but I also love Pepe's. I have only been twice and it was at an off hour with no wait but I was treated well and the white clam was out of this world good.

      2. s
        shellyesq Jul 9, 2008 09:13 AM

        I've been to both the original and the Fairfield location quite a few times. I've always enjoyed the pizza. The service is probably more friendly at the Ffld. location, but I've never felt like I was treated like crap at either. We usually order the bottle of birch beer to avoid the small glasses.

        1. jfood Jul 9, 2008 09:17 AM

          jfood was a Sally's person and when the FFD location opened he wondered over for a couple of pies. Very unimpressed and is not so hot to go back for just OK pizza and birch beer shooters. Several good pizzas where he lives and no need for the shlep.

          3 Replies
          1. re: jfood
            s
            stevel Jul 11, 2008 06:40 AM

            jfood,

            what pizza do you like in the area?

            1. re: stevel
              jfood Jul 11, 2008 06:48 AM

              Colony - stm
              Leitizia - wilton
              fat cat - norwalk
              strada 18 - sono
              joes - new canaan

              1. re: jfood
                n
                ninnikuramen Jul 23, 2008 11:40 AM

                colony is amazing - have not been able to find an equivalent any where else yet that stacks up to their hot oil pizza. we asked the owner one time why he doesn't try to expand, and he said they have their hands full just running this one.

          2. c
            chloe4ever Jul 9, 2008 05:37 PM

            I was just there on July 5th and the service that I received was pretty good. We had a nice waitress who was very friendly and on top of things and nobody seemed to be giving off a bad vibe. The pizza was better the last time I was there (2 months ago) it was a little too greasy this time around.

            Overall, I like this pizza joint and I never have had a problem with the service.

            The one thing that I do agree with is that they do need to do something about those "thimbles" they call glasses. Ridiculously small. An infant could down 10 of those and still be thirsty.

            1 Reply
            1. re: chloe4ever
              c
              CTgüera Jul 13, 2008 07:32 PM

              I haven't been to the Fairfield one for a couple of months, but generally find polite & plesant service - tho wkday lunch is less harried overall. Our waitress specifically told us to order a pitcher for drinks (even tho we were only 2 people). Still dreaming about the clam pizza with bacon - oh my!

            2. t
              thebordella Jul 12, 2008 11:21 AM

              Bah. Born and raised on NY pizza, and my first visit to Pepe's three years ago was a revelation. Best pepperoni pie I've ever had. Two visits since confirms perfection. I don't like clam pies, so if I had ordered that at Pepe's, I'd probably have been disappointed too.

              One time we tried Modern on a swing through New Haven instead of waiting for Pepe's. Mistake. Bland imitation.

              All you folks who actually live in New Haven and disdain Pepe's might as well just jump out of a top floor window now and end it all.

              PS. Yes, buy the pitcher.

              3 Replies
              1. re: thebordella
                d
                dolores Jul 13, 2008 05:33 AM

                I haven't been lately, but unless they've seriously slipped, Pepe's white clam pizza was the best I've ever had, then or since.

                1. re: dolores
                  roxlet Jul 13, 2008 12:01 PM

                  Agree with you dolores, but make sure you don't have any important meetings lined up within the next few days after!!! Gimme a G-A-R-L-I-C!

                2. re: thebordella
                  TBird Jul 23, 2008 12:03 PM

                  bordella is spot on. and i love difara's, etc.

                  pepe's ='s lemmings? not on this planet.

                3. foleyd7 Jul 24, 2008 12:34 PM

                  Hands down, Pepe's tomato pie (no mozzerella, just some grated romano) is the jewel of their production. It might not sound great, but my father ate it for years before I finally gave it a try and now I can't go without it. The simplicity and freshness of the sauce combined with the chared dough is a perfect match.

                  1. b
                    Brklynbobby Jul 24, 2008 12:58 PM

                    I am a New Haven native. Back in the 50's and 60's Pepe's was terrific. When Mrs. Pepe died 30 some years ago, the place took a dive, but by then it was world famous and the tourists never stopped coming. The truly best pizza in New Haven is Modern Apizza on State Street. That's where the locals go. I have never been disappointed. I now live in Brooklyn (Bensonhurst - Brooklyn's Little Italy) and although the pizza is great, I still long for a pie from Modern.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Brklynbobby
                      z
                      zahound Sep 24, 2009 07:50 PM

                      I've been eating Pepe's for 25 years. With some lapses, the pies have been excellent, the variety impressive. They're willing to take special requests and actually follow through half of the time. Now they're training staff for yet another location in Yonkers, and the quality has taken a dive. It's chaotic--you never know what you'll get. A few weeks ago, we got a pizza baked on a pre-cooked crust. Today the crust seemed to have changed for the worse. I'm afraid the expanding Pepe's Empire will turn even the original New Haven place into just another chain dump.

                      1. re: Brklynbobby
                        bagelman01 Sep 25, 2009 05:10 PM

                        I'm also a New Haven native and avoid Pepe's, I am a Sally's afficionado, but will eat from Modern as well (but not a bomb).

                        1. re: Brklynbobby
                          m
                          mcllmlathd Sep 25, 2009 09:12 PM

                          All my life I have been eating Coal fired pizzas from Sallys and Pepe's...I think nothing compares to Pepes' white clam well done pizza and Sallys' well done tomato pie...I went to Fairfield when it first opened and it was horrible, went back a couple of weeks ago and it wasn't bad, but it was an off time so the pizza was not rushed...most pizzas lack love when the pizziola is busy...Westport pizza is always a good pie, again WELL DONE...Colony is so-so, a little to thin for me same as Fat Cats, if you eat it in house it is delish, take it home and it really is not great...I do not love the pizza at strata 18, the ALL wood burning oven at Match puts out great pizza as well as some great entrees, Pane Panini during the day is a great slice as well as some tasty sandwiches. I find pizzas that are cooked in coal or wood heated ovens to be the bast, they cook quick and have that nice little char on the edge that makes me smile!

                        2. GIOny Sep 26, 2009 08:54 AM

                          I recently went to Pepe's in New Haven for the 1st time. We went early so we got right in. Your right about the wait staff, not one smilie to found in the joint. We ordered a regular pie and a clam pie, I don't like clams so I just ate the regular pie and it was good but I can't say it was the best I ever had. I think Pepe's problem is all the hype, people expect to much, I know I did. And when you expect to much your almost bound to be disappointed. BTW avoid the wine, I haven't seen a juice glass that small since Fred Flintstone, actually Fred's glass is big next to the ones the serve wine in there. If you happen to be in Conn. in the area where Pepe's is, I would stop but I wouldn't make it a destination.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: GIOny
                            t
                            trehouse Sep 26, 2009 03:19 PM

                            Try the Fairfield location, sounds like almost a different place from the New Haven original. Wait staff is friendly and generally helpful. The pepperoni + sausage pizza is excellent as is the Summer Special pie which is a tomato / garlic affair akin to a bruschetta pizza. It's unique and really tasty.

                            1. re: trehouse
                              m
                              mcllmlathd Sep 26, 2009 08:52 PM

                              That Summer Special Pie was delish...like panzanella salad...YUMEE!!

                          2. s
                            SeoulQueen Sep 26, 2009 08:35 PM

                            I would also recommend F Pepe's in Fairfield over the original location in New Haven. I get seated more quickly (no wait midweek, ~15-20minutes peak dinner time during weekends), the service is nicer and most importantly, I think they make better pies than the New Haven location. Originally, I had gripes with the large pizza being too soggy in the center but now I prefer to order 2 small pizzas and they come out perfect, plus I get to try more toppings - try bacon with mushrooms! The large pizza I had at the New Haven location was uncooked in the middle/raw dough, the wait was 30+ min and the service was perfunctory at best. Thank goodness the Fairfield location is closer to where I live!

                            1. g
                              Giuseppe Nov 6, 2009 07:39 AM

                              I tried Pepe's new pizzeria in Yonkers, NY. The best word to describe it is TASTELESS !!! I have been a pizza aficionado for over 30 years and am very selective. I have eaten true Neapolitan pizza in Italy, my father was a chef and I believe I have pretty good background to offer a viable critique of Italian food and pizza. Pepe's is out of their league in the New York metro area. There are a myriad of renowned, well established wood or coal burning pizzerias that use top notch ingredients within a 25 mile radius of midtown Manhattan; Grimaldi's, Patsy's, Lombardi's, Arturo's, Totonno's, Brooklyn Pizza, Picasso (the original one) etc., etc. Pepe's is like any regular pizza joint; cheap cheese, mediocre sauce, not so thin or tasty crust. Other than the coal oven there is nothing inherent in their pizza that qualify as gourmet (clams?). Unless people try other wood or coal oven pizza restaurants in the NY, NJ & CT metro area they may not have a clue as to the taste that distinguishes a truly great pizza form the mundane ones like Pepe's. Interestingly I wrote a review on Pepe's blog which was quickly removed. All I can say Pepe, is if you can't take the heat, get out of the oven or better yet the gourmet pizza business.
                              I am a 'Foodie' and this is my objective opinion, and I am not affiliated with any pizza or food establishment.

                              -----
                              Totonno's
                              125 Tuckahoe Rd, Yonkers, NY 10710

                              Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana
                              157 Wooster St, New Haven, CT 06511

                              Grimaldi's
                              133 Clinton St, Hoboken, NJ 07030

                              Brooklyn Pizza
                              751 Upper Glen St Ste 5, Queensbury, NY 12804

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: Giuseppe
                                e
                                emarcus Nov 6, 2009 09:18 AM

                                I have not been to the Yonkers Pepe's, but the New Haven pizzeria produces pizza that is the equal of any in New York--and I've eaten at all the top (and very fine) NYC pizzerias.

                                Even though it is called Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana, there is nothing Neapolitan about Pepe's pizza. In Naples the pizzas are small and round with a soft crust and decorous little blobs of fresh mozzarella. The classic New Haven pizza (practiced by Pepe's, Sally's, etc.) is a huge, amoeba-shaped thing with a thin (though not too thin), crispy, slightly charred crust. Because it is baked in a much hotter oven (coal vs. wood--no one in Italy uses coal) the ingredients fuse together in an almost volanic manner.

                                This is not to say that Pepe's can't have an off night, or that the satellite locations are as good as the original. But to say that "Pepe's is out of their league in the New York metro area" isn't true. On a good night, Pepe's is superior to Lombardi's or John's or Arturo's and maybe even Totonno's, my favorite in NYC. The clam pie at Pepe's (which I had a few days ago) is one of the best foods in the world.

                                1. re: Giuseppe
                                  p
                                  pabboy Nov 6, 2009 12:31 PM

                                  Are you Giuseppe or SanMarzano? After being a pizza aficionado for 30 years you would have Grimaldi's on your list?

                                  1. re: Giuseppe
                                    l
                                    laylag Nov 7, 2009 08:05 AM

                                    With all due respect to your background and point of view Guisseppi, I think you are comparing apples to oranges. New Haven pizza, be it from Frank Pepe, Modern or Sally's and whether it is located in NY in Yonkers or in any of the Frank Pepe locations in CT is its own thing. It is not trying to be "NY pizza".We can have a great debate about what exactly constitutes NY pizza, thin coal burning or wood, the iconic and often transcendent NY slice as is found at many joints in the boroughs, the thicker, doughier, cheesier version at the Original Ray's on 6th Ave in the village and so on.

                                    Patsy's (which I find disappointing), Grimaldi's, Lombardi's, Arturo's (one of my faves) all are just one version of NY pizza and Frank Pepe's is none of the above and none of the aforementioned styles. New Haven pizza, as it is called, is New Haven pizza, and as a formerly die-hard, loyal NY pizza whose first pizza experiences were in Brooklyn, I was truly shocked when Frank Pepe's clam pie rocked my world. You don't have to knock New Haven pizza to validate the others.

                                    I've had enough disputes with Mid Westerners about deep dish pizza vs. a NY style pie and have even heard relatives (by marriage) in Southern Maryland defend Domino's. Now those debates may seem ridiculous to those of us from the NY area and those of us who've eaten pizza in Italy but, imho, to compare Lombardi's et al to Pepe's is equally pointless.

                                    -----
                                    Grimaldi's
                                    980 Franklin Ave, Garden City, NY 11530

                                    1. re: Giuseppe
                                      JohnAM Dec 3, 2009 01:56 PM

                                      Giuseppe, I agree, tasteless, cheap cheese, mediocre sauce (too much of both) and not so thin or tasty crust sums up what I had at Pepe's today. Other the charring of the coal ovens and the different shape of the pizza, it was just another pizza. For me, good pizza is as good as the ingredients used. Mario's Restaurant, Arthur Ave. in "Little Italy in the Bronx" makes one of the best pizza's around. Simple thin crust, hand crushed plum tomatoes, sliced fresh mozzarella (not covering the entire pie), oregano and fresh basil and done to perfection (no brick, coal or wood oven). It's a restaurant and not known as a pizzeria so many people are not aware that you can order a pie to eat in or take out. Try it, you'll be amazed.

                                    2. s
                                      SanMarzano Nov 6, 2009 08:15 AM

                                      Frank Pepe in yonkers is very dissapointing. I was looking forward to finally having a great coal oven place in lower Westchester.

                                      What a joke, the tomato and tomato pie with cheese are worse and less appetizing than many of the commercial places around here.

                                      You can barely taste the tomato sauce, the cheese on the pie with cheese is disgusting and the tomato pie was covered with burnt grated cheese.

                                      I've never been to their New Haven place but these guys need a recipe fix .

                                      Try Johns of Bleeker Street or Lombardi 's you get delicious crisp and tasty charred crust topped with delcicious vibrant tomato sauce and creamy fresh mozzella. That's good pizza. Frank Pepe -not so much.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: SanMarzano
                                        s
                                        stuartlafonda Nov 6, 2009 11:10 AM

                                        Thank you, and Giuseppe for, telling us what you consider to be great pizza as it gives me a frame of reference for your opinion. I will now cast aside your opinion. Lombardi's is your suggestion to someone looking for great pizza? I love Pepe's NH and did not think that Pepe's Fairfield was nearly as good in my three visits to that branch. Perhaps they are spreading themselves to thin and that is a bad omen for this new branch. Nonetheless, the new location is on my list and when I find myself in the area will visit.

                                        1. re: SanMarzano
                                          p
                                          pabboy Nov 6, 2009 12:32 PM

                                          Are you Giuseppe or SanMarzano? I'm a little confused here.

                                        2. m
                                          Mothership Nov 6, 2009 12:59 PM

                                          We were on our way for a trip up the Maine coast a few weeks ago and were told by several people that we just HAD to stop at Pepe's in New Haven since it was on our route. We stopped for lunch. There was no wait. Ordered a cheese and pepperoni pie(added sausage on my half) and gleefully awaited the supposedly wonderful pizza. What we were served was mediocre at best. While the toppings were fine - and just fine - nothing spectacular, the crust was burned beyond all recognition. Yes - I love wood fired pizza and actually like it pretty well charred. But this was almost inedible. Maybe our pizza was the exception to the rule there, but it was really disappointing.

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: Mothership
                                            Nancy C Nov 6, 2009 01:48 PM

                                            Sabatino's in Hawthorne, NY, across from the movie theater, does a rather nice coal-oven pizza, IMHO. We usually keep it simple, with napolitano, or white pie. Always pretty pleased at what comes out of their oven. Will keep an open mind on trying Frank Pepe's next time we're in Yonkers, but from what I'm hearing on this board am not sure it's worth a special trip.

                                            1. re: Nancy C
                                              a
                                              anonymouse1935 Nov 7, 2009 06:18 AM

                                              It's a little disheartening to read all these negative reports on the new Pepe's. I will try them nonetheless.

                                              Does anyone know if they do a takeout on the clam pizza? Wasn't that forbidden at the NH location?

                                              1. re: anonymouse1935
                                                chowdom Nov 7, 2009 11:37 AM

                                                I ordered one to go http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/663014

                                          2. TorontoTips Nov 26, 2009 11:18 AM

                                            Hey Gang,
                                            My S.O. and I had an east-coast road-trip planned (from Toronto) this summer and decided to begin in New Haven and head north, based on all the raves from Chow and Roadfooders about New Haven's legendary pizza.

                                            We also had to choose just one, and decided that Modern Apizza would be the one, thinking that maybe Pepe's was more likely to be over-hyped with it's history, etc. than Modern.

                                            We arrived just before lunchtime, on the day of the pizza festival later that afternoon in the town square, apparently, and were able to get a table immediately. We ordered one clam pie and one pepperoni pie from one of the various bored college students acting as staff, and tried not to drool on ourselves while we waited.

                                            Long story short - both pies looked exactly as we expected, well-done, charred edges, etc., but overall, we were underwhelmed.

                                            Nothing wrong with either, they were just solid-quality thin crust wood-oven style pizzas, much like we can get from numerous places in Toronto. Now I'm not sure if we were expecting angels' choirs, or the hand of god, but it was disappointing after all the build-up. The clam pizza was interesting, with salty-chewy clam strips on a white pizza, served with wedges of lemon - novel, but nothing really impressive.

                                            I've been very impressed in the past with fine examples of all different styles of pizza - I love a NY slice folded, I had a great pizza at Ginos in Chicago, a fantastic pie and sub at The Italian Store in Washington D.C. and I happen to be a huge fan of what I think is the most underrated style of pizza in the US: Buffalo style pizza (no, not chicken wing pizza, the style of pizza they sell in Buffalo at LaNova, Bocce, and yes even at Anchor bar).

                                            New Haven pizza, on that day, from Modern, - meh. Again it hugely kicks the butt of Dominos or Pizza Hut or any chain pizza, but as far as THE ultimate Chow or Roadfood pizza - not so much.

                                            Fortunately the trip continued north where we had insanely-good fried whole-belly clams, chowder, and lobster rolls at Woodmans of Essex and The Clam Box, and outstanding steamers at Barnacle Billy's in Maine, which DO qualify as WOW-food.

                                            Bottom-line: Really good pizza, nice crust, quality toppings, but not worth a special roadtrip in my opinion, but very good. We'll give them (and maybe another of the suggestions from this board) another shot on a future trip, but I'll be dreaming about Woodman's, not New Haven pizza, next time.

                                            11 Replies
                                            1. re: TorontoTips
                                              i
                                              intrepid Nov 26, 2009 03:54 PM

                                              hello toronto tips, ive been twice i thought first time pizza was just okm second time was better, but in the end yes its pizza, no double rainbows, or violins, its wahats called marketing, and branding and hype, that over build a pizza, or a brand..again this is just good pizxza, not life changing, but a strong brabd name indeed

                                              1. re: TorontoTips
                                                s
                                                SeoulQueen Nov 26, 2009 04:27 PM

                                                This is a pepe's thread...not modern

                                                1. re: SeoulQueen
                                                  TorontoTips Nov 26, 2009 05:15 PM

                                                  You'll see above where several people suggest Modern is much better than Pepe's, so I thought my comments appropriate. If they are right, then based on my experience with Modern, people can be advised that the New-Haven hype is just that, good-but-over-hyped wood-oven-style pizza.

                                                  Then again - if your idea of great pizza is 2-for1 deals from a big pizza conglomerate chain, (as is true for millions of people across the continent, based on sales figures) then you could do yourself a favour and hit up a real pizza joint like Modern or Pepe's and taste the difference.

                                                  1. re: TorontoTips
                                                    s
                                                    shark_attack Nov 27, 2009 06:14 AM

                                                    Pepe's IS disappointing. Plain and with extra cheese:)

                                                    Pepe's is too busy, the stickmen are very unprofessional, the ingredients are "eh", and worst of all, there is ZERO communication between the stickmen and the order/phone person. Meaning that special requests invariably go unnoticed. Because they hire very young girls to work the phones, and yet, the phone person really needs to run the shift and be the boss of the stickmen, if no other manager is doing this crucial task.

                                                    Upshot......When shark_attack ordered recently from the Fairfield location he requested extra well done over the phone, which is courting disaster anyway as far as burning is concerned but is preferrable to an uncooked pie which is de-rigueur at Pepe's. I actually told the girl on the phone what to do, arrived at the location and found the pie out of the oven already 15 minutes after ordering. She had the presence of mind to open the box and ask me "is this well-done enough?" and it was raw. I asked them to put it back, the stickman did so and retrieved it a few minutes later and honestly it still wasn't done as much as I would have liked. she boxed, I paid, left, and don't really go out of my way for Pepe's. Of course, it IS pizza, and even bad pizza is better than no pizza at all:)

                                                    1. re: shark_attack
                                                      i
                                                      intrepid Nov 27, 2009 07:05 AM

                                                      i dont find it dissapointing, i find it good, ive ordered special pies, woth well done, extra garlic spinach on whit eclam pie, that cam out very good...these pizza wont sing,its just pizza

                                                      1. re: intrepid
                                                        s
                                                        shark_attack Nov 27, 2009 07:29 AM

                                                        Intrepid,

                                                        Good points, and I agree generally. I say disappointing because, any pizza with the pedigree of this pie has a tall reputation to live up to, in my mind at least. Is Pepe better than the average slices joint in anytown U.S.A.?

                                                        Of course it is. By miles, in many cases. But does Pepe's evoke the real flavor of yore? I don't really know. Although I feel I experienced Patsy's East Harlem at it's apex, I can't really say the same about Pepe. So I don't know. What I do know is, Patsy's Tottono's, even Johns of Bleeker kick Pepe's rear end in my estimation. And they (John's) doesn't even use fresh cheese. I will try coalhouse. I think that coal ovens are a completely unfair advantage when making pizza:) I like it a lot better than wood.

                                                        1. re: shark_attack
                                                          m
                                                          moron66 Nov 27, 2009 10:13 AM

                                                          there are 10 horses in a horse rase cause everyone has a different taste .pizza is dough cheese and sause they all use grande cheese 7-11 sause and alta cucina tomato some use sugar some use salt some use garlic some are cooked in a coal oven some in wood some in a standard oven a large pie costs them about 1.50 if you can get something you like good.pepes will ruin its reputation in yonkers because it will lose that small owner operater touch.

                                                          1. re: moron66
                                                            i
                                                            intrepid Nov 27, 2009 11:53 AM

                                                            i dont htink theyll rui their street cred, yokers pie is aok, and if i was them, id look to make some coin, rather than a hole in wall in new haven everybody like the poor starving artist, except the poor starving artist lololol

                                                          2. re: shark_attack
                                                            i
                                                            intrepid Nov 27, 2009 11:55 AM

                                                            shark attack aok, pepes yonkers till is good, as is tary lodge and zero otto nove ive done patsys, tottonos, umbertos, chicago pie, roma pie, napoli pie, yes most of them very very good,

                                                            1. re: shark_attack
                                                              s
                                                              Scotty100 Nov 28, 2009 07:27 AM

                                                              Sharkattack - see Laylag's post above from 11/7...comparing NY style pizza to pepe's is pointless. Apples to oranges. The whole approach and style of a Johns or Tottonos pie compared to a Pepe's or Modern pie in New Haven is completely different.

                                                              Pepe's, and the other New Haven joints, do a Neapolitan style pie. This is chewier/doughier/thicker crust and traditionally is softer in the middle. To some, who prefer a more NY style of thinner crust, this may seem to be "undercooked" but is actually deliberate.

                                                              Now of course quality can vary from pie to pie and indeed I have eaten pepe's pie that is undercooked at the center, regardless of style, the pie was just not long enough in the oven. This has happened a few times to me when ordering their large pies at the Ffd location. Recently I've switched to ordering smaller pies and the results have been better. When they get it right, there is no better pie in the area imo.

                                                              So in summary, I would caution comparing NY pie to Neapolitan, unless the NY pie is from the likes of motorino, keste, la pizza fresca etc. all of which are neapolitan in style.

                                                              1. re: Scotty100
                                                                j
                                                                jackvonmaur Dec 30, 2009 08:04 AM

                                                                ?

                                                  2. p
                                                    Panini Guy Dec 30, 2009 05:22 PM

                                                    Was back in Stamford for my annual holiday trip last weekend. Was going to take my brother to Sally's since he'd never been. But last Saturday was completely miserable with the cold, wet rain and there was no way we were going to wait in a line. So I suggested Pepe's in Ffld, having never been there before. Kinda figured it was Fairfield, after all, and Fairfielders aren't dumb enough to frequent a place that would make them stand outside in the cold and wet.

                                                    Naturally, we're standing outside getting cold and wet.

                                                    Thankfully it was only a couple of minutes before we could both squeeze into the vestibule that is designed to accommodate 8 or 9 with a modicum of comfort but this night had 17 denizens inside. We got in with just a 20 minute wait as there was only the two of us. The parties of 5 and 6 who got there ahead of us may still be waiting for all we know.

                                                    I ordered white clam, my brother a red mozz pie with some toppings. Gotta say, the clam didn't float my boat this time as it's always done in the past whether Pepe's or Sally's. Just seemed kind of pedestrian this go-round from the clams to the crust. My brother said his pie was "meh", but he'd find something wrong with any dish in any restaurant. It's his hobby.

                                                    My wfie stayed behind but asked that I pick her up something, so I did order a mushroom/pepper red mozz number. She LOVED it. And I had a slice of hers - cold - and it seemed that the elements that came off flat in my clam pizza were there in spades on hers. Crust was perfect, flavors were ripe. That's what I remembered and why it's still worth the special trip.

                                                    Ain't nothing back home here in Pittsburgh like a New Haven pizza, at least in that general price range (even our lauded DOC Il Pizzaiolo gets inconsistent and it's a fin more).

                                                    Off topic somewhat, but still pizza... even though I was visiting in Stamford, I oddly had no desire to go the Colony this time out. First off, it's not nearly as engaging w/o Fitz and Skeets on bar. Second, the pizza I had last year around Christmas was, shall we say, Chef-Boy-ar-dee-ish in flavor. Having grown up with the Colony (had first "legal" drink there and probably 200 pizzas served up with the good china since then), it was as if a bulb went off in my head making me notice that just because Colony was a fond taste memory for years didn't necessarily mean it was fabulous as pizza goes. It does still have a unique taste and it's rare to find stingers/hot oil as toppings anywhere else (does Uncle Joe's offer them?), but Colony has now fallen off my list of must-do's when I'm back in the area.

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