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Fearless Critic restaurant review
New Haven
Casual restaurant

Daily 11:30am–10:00pm

Features Kid-friendly, veg-friendly
Bar Beer, wine
Credit cards Visa, MC
Reservations Not accepted


Wooster Square Area
157 Wooster St.
New Haven, CT
(203) 865-5762

Wooster Square Area
The Spot, 163 Wooster St.
New Haven, CT
(203) 865-7602
Wed–Sat 4:00pm–9:00pm
Sun 2:00pm–8:00pm
Frank Pepe’s
The gold standard for pizza is going chain—get it while it’s still good

Frank Pepe, one of the two most famous pizzerias in New Haven and among the best known in all New England, is chaining it up. Branches in Fairfield and Manchester are already open, and branches in (wince) Yonkers, and (double wince) Mohegan Sun casino are on the way. Although we wish them the best, it’s hard not to feel a bit slighted by this news, like finding out from your brilliant humanities-scholar son that he’s decided to pursue a career in management consulting.

At least the new branches won’t be the same as this one. An icon of the old Wooster Street Neapolitan community, this inimitable pizzeria has held its ground since 1925. You’ll have quite a while to ponder its illustrious history during your epic wait for seating (come between 3 and 4pm on a weekday to sit immediately), but superior quality demands commitment.

Pepe’s master dough pullers maneuver pies within a gargantuan coal-fired brick oven with 10-15 foot-long peels. The flaky, bubbly crust is superb: thin and crisp, with a delightful hint of “burnt.” The famed white clam and bacon pie—still our favorite—sports freshly shucked whole clams and the earthiness of bacon fat.

For your pie #2 (two mediums feed 4), forego the plain tomato-and-mozzarella version—it has come too greasy and cheesy lately—and arrest your palate with meaty, wonderful sausage. Don’t forget to order the local Foxon cream soda or root beer—it’s classic, as is the cheap American beer.

The place feels cozy, with plenty of comfortable wooden booths and, although whitewashed, the room feels appropriately historic. Your order is taken with good-natured brusqueness (it’s more charming once you’ve sat down than during your hour’s wait). Pepe’s refusal to take reservations is understandable yet annoying, especially when one’s I-95 detour into the Elm City centers exclusively upon a visit here. Their next door offshoot The Spot, offers similar pizza, with shorter lines, in a drab room that lacks the nostalgic appeal of the mothership.

On your way out, mosey over to the open-air kitchen and watch the pizzas being made. It’s so simple: dough, sauce, toppings, heat. Frank Pepe gets each exactly right.

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