Address: 157 Wooster St., New Haven, Conn.
Signature Dish: White Clam Pizza
Outside of New York, Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana, known better as simply Pepe’s Pizza, helped put the Northeast on the map for having some of the best pizza in the country.
Family owned and operated since its namesake – an Italian immigrant with an entrepreneurial spirit – opened his first pizzeria in 1925 on Wooster Street, the New Haven spot is as iconic as its thin crust apizza (“ah-beets”).
Pepe’s famous white clam pizza is a must-try for any proper pizza enthusiast worth their weight in slices. It was created in the mid-1960s and is believed to be an organic idea from Frank Pepe himself, inspired by the raw Rhode Island clam appetizer on the menu at the time.
It all starts with the crust, baked to charred perfection in Pepe’s signature coal-fired oven. Topped with fresh clams, garlic and oregano, grated cheese and a drizzle of olive oil, it’s then put back into the oven to melt into a magical marriage of flavors and textures.
The balance of char, crunch and chew are what make it such a standout pie, and one that has been attracting visitors from near and far for decades. “Though long lines are typical, the wait is worthwhile,” notes a AAA inspector in a review.
And while white clam pizza is practically synonymous with the Pepe’s Pizza name, the restaurant is also known for its obsession for finding and using the best tomatoes possible for its traditional red pizzas. Every year, members of Frank Pepe’s family gather to conduct a blind taste test of whole, peeled tomatoes from Naples before selecting the ones deemed most worthy of topping their pizzas. That’s serious dedication to quality ingredients.
Don’t leave this one off your pizza bucket list! Try the white clam pizza at the Wooster Street location or at one of the 11 Northeast restaurants located throughout Connecticut and in Massachusetts, New York and Rhode Island.
For more AAA-approved signature dishes, visit AAA.com/DiamondDish.