Last August, the legend of Pepe’s pizza was called into question when we received burnt crusts. Less than a year later, we were fortunate enough to be back on Wooster Street – New Haven’s famed pizza pipeline – where Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana was once again put to the test. This time, Pepe’s was back to form, meaning we once again scored world-class coal-fired pizza.
“You want to see the fire?” That’s what the pizzaiolo called to us from in front of Pepe’s coal oven. Of course my answer was yes. He opened the door to reveal burning coals, which contribute to the pizzas’ black-bottomed crusts.
The clam pie was very good, but the idea of visiting a pizzeria as good as Pepe’s and walking away without trying tomato sauce would be unthinkable. The Original Tomato Pie with Mozzarella ($14.50) and sausage ($3.55 extra) was even more satisfying, with course cuts of sausage and exactly the right ratio of robust tomato sauce to cheese, which nearly hit the edge of the pie.
This was my third trip to Pepe’s, and after my latest visit, it’s looking like August 2008 was an unfortunate hiccup. There’s little doubt that Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana belongs in the pizza Pantheon.