Pizza Worth Freezing Your Balls Off For

Okay, so I don’t have balls really…but on Saturday evening, The Boyfriend and I were stupid enough to go to The Original Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana (what a mouthful) in Manchester at 7:30 p.m. The line was out the door and we spent a good half an hour shivering and looking longingly at pizzas walked out by smarter people who had gone for take out. First, for a place that continuously has a waiting line, the place should have been designed a little better–perhaps with a theme park-style rope line.

However, when we finally made it inside, it was well worth it. The simple and bright decor works well–it certainly isn’t a romantic place to be, but it’s not crazy and kitschy either. It’s family friendly without making me want to have my tubes tied, like a lot of popular pizza places do. There are plenty of old-timey pictures of their flagship location in New Haven to keep you busy while you wait.

The menu is simple–just pizza and salads, really. There’s no full bar, but they have beer and wine. While their draft selection isn’t a mile-long, it’s more than Bud and Bud Light. We went for a pitcher of Shock Top and their veggie special pizza. Our waitress was cute and nice and attentive. Even other waitstaff and bus boys were friendly and smiling as they bustled by–something you don’t see everywhere. The place is also really clean–I wonder if the teenage boys taking care of it keep their rooms as spiffy.

The pizza is amazing–which explains the wait out the door. It’s tasty, not overly doughy, cooked just right and is even delicious reheated. So, go for it and wait, but be sure to bundle up until spring actually gets here! Three salt shakers.

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4 comments

  1. I’m somewhat annoyed that the Manchester location calls itself “The Original” when the REAL original is on Wooster Street. The New Haven location always has a line out the door – it was actually surprising for me to hear the Manchester Pepe’s has become that popular already.

    Side note: You’re either Team Pepe’s or Team Sally’s. I’m definitely Team Pepe’s. Frank Pepe taught his nephew, Sally, how to make pizza in the first place – and then Sally not only opened up his own pizzeria, but one a block and a half away from his uncle’s! I heard Frank Pepe was the first to bring pizza to Connecticut. Having grown up in Queens, I can honestly say that Frank Pepe’s is the best pizza I’ve had outside of New York.

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  2. Thank you for that piece of family history!

    And yes, we’ve wondered about that “Original” bit as well. We assumed it was because there is a “Pepe’s” in Manchester but it, in a word, sucks.

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  3. I will admit I’m in the Sally’s camp because of the crust. Pepe’s does have a slightly better sauce. And Pepe’s does whoop Sally’s when it comes to the white pie (I hear Sally’s uses canned clams).

    All in all, though, it’s splitting hairs.

    One thing that I do feel strongly about, however, is that the Manchester outbranch sucks. I’ve been twice, once a few months after they opened, and then sometime this past Fall. Both times the pizza was undercooked to the point of being nearly chewy! That’s quite a feet for New Haven style which usually has a nice char around some edges. Service was unremarkable.

    If you’re coming from the Hartford area, no reason to trek East for inferior pie even if the pedigree is impressive. Stick with either of the Harry’s.

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  4. I have to disagree and say the quality of the pizza in Manchester is very close to the quality in New Haven. New Haven, as far as I’m concerned, is the best in the country…better than anything you’ll get in NY, Boston, etc…

    But I will agree on the unremarkable service in Manchester. That doesn’t bother me because the pizza is so good, they can treat me poorly and it wouldn’t matter. It’s sort of like dating a super hot chica who is a horrible girlfriend but you look past it because of her hottness.

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