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Dec 29, 2011 12:28 AM

pepe's "sorry no clams" question

after trying pepe's white clam pie, i must go to pepe's if i'm in new haven. i've been to pepe's a total of five times (all in the last five years), but the last two times, a "sorry no clams" sign was on the door.

the first time pepe's was out of clams, it was ~9:30pm. being near the end of day, it was disappointing but didn't seem unusual.

on tues (dec 27), though, i arrived at pepe's just before 4pm. everything seemed great. there were still a few empty parking spots in the official lot. it was starting to rain, but the line ended at the end of the canopy. after waiting a few minutes of the promised twenty minute wait, i noticed the "sorry no clams" sign on the door. pepe's basic tomato pie is a nice pie, but, i feel like you're wasting your time if you go to pepe's and don't get the white clam pie (i'm lucky that denino's of staten island is my go to pizza - sausage pie to be exact).

so, i was curious if i just had bad luck, or, if i had stayed, would a truck with a picture of a lobster and a swordfish on the side have pulled up and dropped off a few hundred pounds of clams ? do persons call in advance to get a prediction on when the clams will run out ?

thanks in advance for any insight.

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  1. Love Pepe's sausage -- have you tried that? Clam issue was just bad luck and does not happen very often unless the weather or some other event intervenes.

    1. It could be a run on clams, or as howaboutthat pointed out, it could be weather-related. After heavy rains, shellfishing is sometimes suspended for a few days, maybe a week. It's a health issue, and the ban is put in place and lifted by local health departments. I don't recall massive storms in the last week, though. I buy direct from fishermen, and sometimes they just take time off. So close to Christmas, I wonder if that might be the case.

      1. HELLO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        It's got nothing to do with Pepe's. You were unrealistically expecting fresh shucked clams on the day after the legal holiday for Christmas,

        Monday, there were virtually no food deliveries, Sunday was Christmas Day, Saturday night was the Feast of the seven fishes and fresh seafood (of decent quality) would have been sold out in the area.

        Fishing would resume on Tuesday and deliveries on Wednesday.

        BTW>>>>I go to Wooster Street regularly to eat Apizza and never order a white clam pie. I don't like white pies of any type.

        And, this is not my holiday, but having grown up in New Haven, I am in tune with holiday disruptions of the food supply

        8 Replies
        1. re: bagelman01

          Well, they were out today, on Thursday!

          1. re: howaboutthat

            Today, I would have expected the item to be in stock. Fish suppliers were making deliveries yesterday and today and the weather was not bad enough (cold, not rain and ice) to stop clamming in the northeast.

            Perhaps they just sold out early. BTW, I'm not defending Pepe's, I'm a Sally's loyalist.

            1. re: howaboutthat

              The clams are fresh! I at least appreciate that they only keep as many as they think they need on hand and don't try to pass off old clams because they are afraid to run out. Gee, life is tough!

            2. re: bagelman01

              They were also out at opening time on a Sunday in late October, beautiful sunny day, the weekend before the Halloween surprise. A disappointment to our family who had hoped to try them.

              1. re: bagelman01

                Fussy, fussy, fussy. I'll eat pizza of any kind and color. I don't care whether it's red, white or chartruse. If it's pizza, and it's a decent pie, I'll eat it and be very happy. Bad pizza is an inexcusable crime against humanity. Good pizza, whatever the color, is cause for celebration.

                1. re: stukin

                  I don't need to eat and kind...
                  I am a New Haven Native, born to Sally's and Pepe's. I eat Apizza willingly and pizza occasionally. I don't like white pies, I like sauce on my apizza. That said, in true New Haven fashion Mozzarella is an option. One that I usually choose to do wiothout. Today, at Pepe's I had a traditional New Haven Pie-sauce and grated Romano cheese. I was very happy. My lunch companion had a white clam pie, he was also very happy.
                  To quote a childhood friend in the New Haven pork processing business :Sauseech his own...............

                  1. re: bagelman01

                    Glad to hear of another fellow "tomato pie" customer. We ordered a small one with anchovies in NH last weekend (along with a white clam - my younger son's absolute favorite - and a mozzarella pie with peppers, onions and garlic), and wondered how many other people actually order the old-school tomato pies. We didn't see any others on that visit, but almost every other customer that day was reading from a tourist guide while on line. That being said we don't order them in the branches because because they are unlikely to make enough to practice doing it properly.

                    I had always assumed that the tomato pie was unique to New Haven, until we visited the excellent El Cuartito in Buenos Aires in December. The shop is of a similar style and age to Pepe's, and they also consider mozzarella to be optional. Our guess was that the families must have emigrated from a similar region of Italy, and each independently kept that tradition alive.

                    (Way outside the scope of this CH board, but we discovered that BA is one of the few places that rival, if not surpass NH as a pizza destination. Pizza is ubiquitous there, and most of it is lousy (the big chain is "Kentucky Pizza"), but there are a number of outstanding places that have been soldiering on since the '30s or earlier)

                    1. re: SteveSCT

                      I'm a New Haven native and an apizza aficionado. Until this week, when we moved mo to a nursing home in Derby, I got to New Haven at least twice a week and had a New Haven tomato pie (not to be confused with the seasonal fresh tomato pie-which I don't eat) at least once a week.
                      Closer to home, i can gat a very good New Haven tomato pie at Julian's Brick Oven Apizza in Monroe, but the oven is wood fed, not coal as on Woosetr Street.

                      You are correct about Pepe's branches not doing thie apizza as well as in New Haven, lack of demand and experience by the pie makers.

                      I have also been in BA many tomes over the years and tomato pies are common. There are many immigrants and descendants from Almalfi in BA (as in New Haven). Afterall, Argentina was eager to accept refugees from the Axis powers during and after WWII-Peron was pro-Nazi.

              2. It could be due to the price. Some places may choose not to sell them when they would have to charge what customers would perceive as a ridiculous price.

                1 Reply
                1. re: calliope_nh

                  with Pepe's charging more than $25 for a large white clam apizza a small fluctuation in mareket price shouldn't matter. Pizza is one of the highest food cost margin items sold in America (excluding beverages).

                2. i've had the same problem in manchester. im a restaurant person and i dont get it. you could order clams a week in advance and they would be ok iced.either there is a problem with whoever orders or they want to sell their other pizzas. either way,,,when you do get one they are delicious!!