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Jul 6, 2009 12:28 PM

Any New Haven-style pizza on LI?

I'm taking about that super-thin, crackly crust, without a lot of stuff piled on top. Any thoughts?

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  1. The Pie, in Port Jefferson.

    1. As far as I know, the only coal-oven pizzerias on LI are

      The Pie, Port Jefferson
      Salvatore's, Port Washington
      The Pie at Salvatore's, Bay Shore
      Massa's, Huntington Station
      Grimaldi's, Garden City

      And, as SBP notes below, The Pie considers itself as a New Haven-style place. I have had clam pies there--not good ones, but clam pies all the same.

      21 Replies
      1. re: emarcus

        Take the ferry to Bridgeport and then a cab to Fairfield for Frank Pepe's.

        1. re: biga290

          If you can't or won't give a helpful reply, why bother replying at all?

          1. re: Scott_R

            I don't know if he was trying to be funny or not, but that is not an "out there" suggestion (though the cab is not necessary assuming you have a car to explore LI). The Frank Pepe's in Fairfield is literally about 1 mile from the ferry - a couple minutes away. If you are willing to travel to, say, Orient for a slice, you might be willing to drive to Port Jeff, hop on a little over an hour ferry ride too. I've stopped there on the way to Rhode Island, and it WAS great. Much better than the Pie, which seemed to me to be trying hard to imitate New Haven pizza, but just didn't seem as rustic/haphazard/homemade as the real deal.

            1. re: sbp

              I live in Fairfield and while the Pepe's is good, the overall quality of their restaurants has gone down since they started franchising. It's not worth a ferry trip over - - - especially if you want "super thin, crackling crust" - - - that is NOT Pepe's style. They have a medium (not thin, not thick) bready crust that is charred - - - far different than thin and crackling.

              1. re: foleyd7

                I was there last summer. You're right that the crust wasn't super thin, but it WAS beautifully charred and crisp. Maybe not as good as it once was, but I've had the clam, sausage, and pepperoni pizzas, and each was better than any I've had in New York.

                1. re: foleyd7

                  All of the Frank Pepe's are family owned. They are not franchises. IMHO the quality has not declined and having tried all of the existing locations except Mohegan Sun the pies are indistinguishable from location to location.

                  1. re: biga290

                    They are ABSOLUTELY franchises. My friend and I originally obtained a prospectus on operating one when it was announced they were going to open. The $1.0 million name fee was a bit too much for us to consider (and by bit I mean about $750,000 too much).

                    1. re: foleyd7

                      From the Frank Pepe website:

                      "We are growing as a company and bringing our world-famous Pizza Napoletana closer to you. However, we do not have franchises for sale, all Frank Pepe Pizzerias are family-owned."

                      1. re: foleyd7

                        Maybe they tried to franchise, couldn't find any takers, and decided to keep it family owned.

                        1. re: sbp

                          OK... so I had to resarch this a bit.
                          I actually do have the original prospectus for franchising, listing the fees, the city requirements for consideration, etc. I'm still looking for the document but I did find info online.
                          Pepe's originally sought the franchise route but wasn't getting traction with their $1M fee + other restrictions (like all equipment & ingredients must be bought throught (ie: marked up) the original restaurant, etc).
                          During the franchise search, the Pepe's family approached "an unnamed business consultant & investor" to grow the business. When he agreed to buy into the business, the franchise plans were put on hold.
                          So it appears the new restaurants are not franchises, but are financed through some business partner. Who is it? What % of the places does he own? I can't find this info yet... So they remain family owned... but which family????

                          1. re: foleyd7

                            I found the original prospectus. Here are some of the highlights:

                            Business Plan Overview
                            As described by Zagat’s restaurant guide, Frank Pepe Pizzeria
                            serves “the best pizza on the planet”. Widely recognized by
                            others such as The Food Network, The Travel Channel, Pizza
                            News, Citysearch, Forbes and GQ, Pepe’s has built its brand for
                            decades as one of the best pizza places in the country.
                            Frank Pepe opened his doors in 1925 priding himself on the
                            quality of the product he served. Pepe’s Pizza LLC will expand
                            Frank Pepe’s legacy by building and franchising new locations
                            throughout the U.S., starting with company owned stores In
                            Connecticut and the Northeast.
                            Transaction Overview
                            • Investors purchase 49% of Pepe’s Pizza LLC for
                            $1,000,000. Investors guarantee, on a pro-rata basis, a
                            $500,000 line of credit. The line of credit, agreed to in
                            principle by Fleet/BofA, cannot be used until the LLC is
                            generating revenues of at least $1,200,000 and cashflow of
                            $200,000 per year. 15% of Series A Stock is set aside for
                            management, board and advisors. Members of the Pepe
                            Family and Organization retain 36% of Pepe’s Pizza LLC.
                            The Pepe Family and Organization continues to wholly own
                            original Frank Pepe Pizzeria and The Spot (LLC holds right
                            to purchase original stores in the future). Members of the
                            Pepe Family maintain voting control through super-voting
                            rights until 5th store is successfully launched.
                            • 5,000,000 shares of Series A Common Stock to be
                            outstanding subsequent to funding. Shares issued to
                            following groups: 1,800,000 to the Pepe Family and
                            Organization; 2,450,000 to the Series A Common Stock
                            Investors; 750,000 to management, board and advisors.
                            • Series A Stock will be priced at $0.41 per share and sold in
                            $50,000 units (each unit representing 122,500 shares or
                            2.45% of the total shares outstanding).
                            • The funds generated from this transaction will fund the
                            development of the first new location. Plans are to use
                            internally generated cashflow to develop further locations
                            (external funds may be raised if the management and
                            board believe it most prudent to expand faster).

                        2. re: foleyd7

                          I second that and have it on excellent authority that they are indeed franchises.

                  2. re: Scott_R

                    If you want NH style, that is one thing, but NH is so close, the ferry is a great time it is probably a really good suggestion.

                    Now once you get to NH there will be lots of opinions about which is the best. The big three, Sallys, Pepes and Modern will all give you over the top great pies. Have one there and take another to go on the ferry back and a third for when youget home.

                    Just like having to be in Chicago for Stuffed pizza, having NH pizza on the other side of the sound just seems wrong.

                    If you want crispy cracker pizza, you can still come across and some hounds can help you with the second-tier pie places.

                    1. re: jfood

                      NH is a four hour round trip from me, and I am NOT going to make the journey just for pizza; I'd been to Pepe's when I was otherwise in NH, which is why I'd asked if there's anything like it here on LI.

                      1. re: Scott_R

                        yeah, jfood feels the same way about 700 miles for a stuffed pizza. sometimes plan B is the only one on the table.

                2. re: emarcus

                  Thanks Erica. Not a big clam pie fan myself (and I've had it from Pepe's), but I do love the thin blistery crust of the other pizzas. I'm in south/east Nassau, so I suppose I'll start radiating outward to those places.

                  1. re: Scott_R

                    My personal favorite is Salvatore's in Port Washington. Why not plan a Gold Coast Saturday? You could also hit Whole Foods in Manhasset (if you live in Southeast Nassau, you probably crave a great supermarket) and Rottkamp's farm stand in Glen Heaed (McCouns Lane, 516-671-2566).

                    Great bakery in Port Washington: Main Street Bakery.

                    1. re: emarcus

                      I was at the Garden City Grimaldi's on Monday and was not impressed. Dull flat crust and elastic cheese.

                      1. re: stuartlafonda

                        Yep. The cheese also has almost no taste. When the ingredients are that mediocre no trickery shall conceal it.

                    2. re: Scott_R

                      So far, I've made it to The Pie at Salvatore's in Bay Shore and Massa's, Huntington Station.

                      The Pie was a better-than-average pizza. The toppings were fresh and tasty, though the crust wasn't as thin and crisp as I'd hoped--well, about as thin, though not crisped.

                      Unfortunately, Massa's is closed on Mondays, the best day (by far) that I can get there, but I just made it.

                      It was a great pizza (a veggie pie), the crust thin and and with those nice little crackly scorchmarks. The toppings were top-notch, and I can still taste the garlic. :) Definitely on the list of must-returns.

                      I'll slowly work through the rest of Erica's list.

                      1. re: Scott_R

                        OK, visited so far: The Pie in Port Jeff, The Pie at Salvatore's (Bay Shore), and Massa's, Huntington Station.

                        I'd rank two The Pies (Bay Shore and Port Jeff) about the same: above average and enjoyable. In Port Jeff I had the Stagione: a "4 segment sample margherita pie with sausage, pepperoni, black olives & mushrooms." I should have stuck with something more veggie-topped, mainly because that's what I'd been very pleased with at Massa's, so as to better compare the two.

                        I think Massa's was a cut above the other two, except that I wouldn't get the buffalo pie again--a pie covered with buffalo-style chicken that I ordered on a return visit. The hot sauce was VERY salty, and I didn't get much of a taste other than that. As much as I'd enjoyed the veggie-topped pie I'd had previously, I feel like I'd missed out.

                  2. I've been posting about pizza for a week and I'm positively craving it now! Nothing good near me in CT. Regarding New Haven style pizza: I thought that meant: "crabby with a side of cruelty to patrons." ;)

                    1 Reply
                    1. Try Nicks in Rockville Centre - excellent pies. Crust is about the same taste and texture as Pepes, though not quite as charred.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Ima Foodie

                        all the talk about Frank Pepes... What about sallys apizza? Unlike Peppes they only focus on the original location and do not spread themselves too thin. Think of them as the Eric Rippert of New Haven

                        1. re: HypeKiller

                          Nice observation about Eric Ripert. The focus went to Frank Pepes because the OP was interested in Long Island, and the Frank Pepe's in Fairfield is right off the Port Jeff/Bridgeport Ferry terminal.