Monday, December 1, 2008

Finally, Frank Pepe

The golden pizza fleece of eating Frank Pepe's has eluded me for years. I could never count the times I've driven past New Haven, but for a slew of reasons, I've never been able to stop in for a slice.

Some friends once brought me a white clam pie while in Amherst, but it had been out of the oven for hours, so I didn't consider it a valid test. Then, last month, the stars aligned for a quick dinner in New Haven while traveling from New York to Boston. It being a Monday, FP's was closed.

Flash forward to last week, if it were possible to flash forward backward. Elise and my first stop en route from Boston to St. Louis was none other than that infamous pizzeria. I'd heard about it for years, had been taunted by the sign for exit 2 on 91, and have craved the real thing ever since that cold, soggy tease. With such high expectations, of course I was disappointed.

That's not to say that it wasn't great pizza. It was. In fact, it was probably the best pizza I've ever had. Why, then, didn't I like it? First, pizza has a ceiling. I know this is a departure from my Trillinesque love of all foods, no matter how lowly or unsustainably grown, but the best pizza just isn't as good as the best braised goat stew or Tarte Tatin, like the excellent one I had last night at Dijon in Ithaca. The best pizza can only be so good.

The second reason, to be completely unfair to Frank, is that I wasn't in the mood. We'd hit traffic on the way in, gotten lost, had a hard time finding green space to walk the dog, and were anxious about the 1200 miles that lay before us. Being in such a state, even the gamiest wild persimmon could go unappreciated.

I owe Frank Pepe another chance. I'm going to go back, take my time, drink a beer before puzzling through the spreadsheet-like menu, and enjoy what I know is some fine pie. I just have to work on being the best pizza eater.

Only then can I share in the sentiment of this bathroom graffiti.

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Jeff said...

Yes, try try again. Pepe's deserves its legendary status. The crust tastes like fine Italian bread, and the sauce tastes like ripe tomatoes, and it all works together perfectly coming from those huge brick ovens, with just a hint of char flavor I have to say though, Upper Crust here in the Boston area gives Frank a run for his money.

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