The VIP Lounge is a weekly Boston Globe interview of a usually D-list celebrity with some passing connection to Boston. The same eight travel-themed questions are asked of each interviewee — Aisle or window? Guilty pleasure when traveling? This week the VIP is Gary Bimonte, one of seven grandchildren of Frank Pepe, founder of the greatest pizzeria in the country, Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana in New Haven, CT. There are now eight Pepe’s pizzeria’s in the northeast, the most recent of which opened, very successfully, in Chestnut Hill mall in Boston. Mr. Bimonte is manager of quality control, popping around to the eight restaurants to ensure the pies are up to New Haven standards. Check out his VIP Lounge interview here.
Thrillist does this once a year — compiles their rundown of America’s top pizzerias — and they’ve just released their fourth edition. The biggest news has to the absence of Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana of New Haven, CT. They did include Sally’s Apizza, Pepe’s down-the-block and up-for-sale rival, on their list, where they note that Pepe’s was dropped because of their continued expansion and resulting inconsistency. Sally’s the only pizzeria in New Haven to make the cut? And only two from the entire state of Connecticut (the best pizza state in the U.S.)? Continue reading
The Clintons are pushing hard for the food savvy vote. Earlier this week, presidential candidate Hillary Clinton joined Stephen Colbert for a meal at New York’s famed Carnegie Deli. Yesterday, her husband and possible future First Gentleman, Bill, showed up at the home of the best pizza on earth, Pepe’s Pizzeria Napoletana, in New Haven, CT, the city where he and Hillary first met. He shook hands and gabbed, and even got close enough to some Pepe’s pies to appreciate their alluring scent. His current ascetic eating plan, however, apparently wouldn’t allow him to dine, as he departed without a bite. While we admire the former president’s willpower, surely a slice of founder Frank Pepe’s favorite pie, topped with tomatoes but no cheese, would have fit into his vegan diet!
Last year we had Deli Man, a movie about Jewish delis, and Famous Nathan, a film about the founding of Nathan’s in Coney Island, NY. In production for release this year is Pizza, A Love Story, which will tell the story of pizza in New Haven, CT, focusing on the big three: Pepe’s, Sally’s, and Modern. We’re excited! Have a look at the first trailer (is that actual footage of Frank Pepe kneading the dough??? Sure looks like him!): Continue reading
Sally’s Apizza of New Haven is for sale, sort of. We wrote a bit about the subject last month because New Haven pizza fascinates us and, although we’ve never dined at Sally’s (we’re Pepe’s white clam fanatics), we recognize that it holds a significance in the story of American pizza almost equal to that of Pepe’s. Well, the Sally’s drama has made it to the pages of The New York Times and, while there’s very little substantive information in the story that we did not already know (save for the fact that a judge has freed Sally’s owners to find a new buyer if they choose), Sally’s current state of affairs is summed up nicely. Continue reading
When discussion turns to the greatest American pizzerias, New Haven, Connecticut, without fail, is part of the mix. In particular, Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana is often cited (including by us) as the source for the country’s finest pizza. Frank Pepe founded the pizzeria in 1925. In 1938, with Frank’s blessing, his nephew Salvatore Consiglio opened Sally’s Apizza a few doors down Wooster Street. There are many folks who, today, claim that Sally’s pies are superior to Pepe’s. We can’t say as we’ve never been to Sally’s, not out of some wacky sense of loyalty to Pepe’s but because we love Pepe’s so much that we could never bring ourselves to miss a rare opportunity to enjoy a Pepe’s white clam pie while passing through New Haven. Continue reading
It sometimes seemed like it would never really happen, but all doubts have been erased: Pepe’s will be bringing their incomparable New Haven pizza to Boston in two weeks. The Mall at Chestnut Hill opening is scheduled for December 16th. The oven will be identical to the New Haven original but word is there will be new toppings and salads. The char will remain. If it’s a success, there could be further Pepe’s openings in the Boston area. For you first-time Boston visitors, here’s some advice: no matter what else you get, order a white clam pie!
Eater spoke with Gary Bimonte of Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana (originally of New Haven, CT). If you are a pizza fanatic who swears by Pepe’s pies (we are and we do!), it’s required reading. Some key points: the current expansion to eight restaurants was spurred on by the fact that Frank Pepe has seven grandchildren, and one store won’t support seven families. They hope to open a new store every 18 months, reaching a total of 20-30 restaurants in the northeast (not, in our view, the “massive expansion” of the Eater headline, but significant). They’ll focus on college towns, with three to five total in the Boston region.
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This time it’s The Daily Meal, and their twist on the “greatest pizza” list is to choose specific pies from the chosen pizzerias, ranked 101 to 1. Who did the choosing? 78 “experts.” Which pizza came in first place? This is one time we agree with the “experts” because Frank Pepe‘s white clam pizza, from New Haven, CT, is our #1 choice, too. No, not our #1 pizza, our #1 food, period! Continue reading
Finally! Grimaldi’s has brought their NYC-inspired pies to the pizza-starved New Haven, CT region. The new pizzeria is located in the suburb of Woodbridge. This is the first of a planned six to ten Grimaldi’s planned for Connecticut over the next two years. A check of their online menu does not reveal a clam pie. Will one be forthcoming?
They are already open but they’re holding their grand opening this Tuesday. Is this venture hubris or ignorance? Only time will tell. Continue reading
Pepe’s Pizzeria Napoletana of New Haven, CT and the city of Boston have been conducting a courtship dance since March. It looked like a done deal. The Fireplace, of Brookline, was to close its doors in December, and Pepe’s was to move into that vacated spot. The people of Boston rejoiced! Alas, Pepe’s penetration into the Boston market was not to be, as the owner of The Fireplace, Jim Solomon, withdrew his offer to make way for the Connecticut pizzeria. Like a wallflower who is suddenly dazzled by the attention, Mr. Solomon decided to stay and enjoy the party. Not that we blame him. But the birth of a Boston Pepe’s will just have to wait.