Chicago Pizza is the best! No wait, New York. No, Me'n Ed's in Fresno. The debate will rage on with no end in sight. In fact, I'm a bit tired of all the arguments and comparisons between New York or Chicago pizza. Frank Pepe's in New Haven, Connecticut was some of the best pizza I've had outside of Italy. Since 1925, Frank Pepe's has been making pizza in New Haven, CT.
Shaherazade and I ordered two specialties, a White Clam Pie (pic below) and White Spinach, Mushroom, and Gorgonzola Pie. While basically a round pizza, each pie is served in a more typical 'old-school' Italian square pizza pan (just like I serve at home). Any pizza restaurant can slap toppings all over a pizza, clam and garlic is no exception. But where the pizza debate gets interesting is the dough, the crust, and the cooking process.
The heat of the oven is a big deal at Frank Pepe's. They use coal, that's right coal to fire their ovens. It burns hot and dry and can maintain an even higher temperature than wood. This heat blisters the skin and areas can burn around the crust. It's a fast process. The result is a crackling crust and a moist inside. If too hot, the middle won't cook. I remember that phenomenon in Naples; the oven was so hot it burned the edges and the middle of the pie never cooked. Frank Pepe's got it right on both of our pies.
As for the flavor of the dough, I can't say I've had a pizza dough so tasty. I'd compare the dough to the finest baguette I've ever tasted. Or the difference between boring bread in Florence and fabulous bread in Locorotondo.The bread becomes the star of the show rather than the backdrop for toppings. It enhances the flavor of the meal, compliments it. I think we chose wisely in not topping our pizza with tomatoes, the dough just worked well with our toppings. We were both very pleased with our choices.
So enough with the pizza debate.The Cured Ham thinks Frank Pepe's in New Haven should have a seat at the Greatest Pizza on Planet Earth table. It's that good.