This time I visited two popular pizza restaurants in the Little Italy of New Haven, Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana, and Sally’s Apizza. Just a block apart on Wooster St from each other and equally busy, they were both easy to walk in and different in their own ways. Frank Pepe’s is the older of the two and opened in 1925, a great family-friendly restaurant that looks homey inside and as historical as I imagined it to be. It’s famous for being one of the best pizzerias in the country, so we had to try it out.
We got seated rather quickly at around 12:15 pm, and it was a full house, so we did get seated in the back, but we were swiftly serviced and ordered two pies. We ordered small mozzarella, which was crushed tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, grated pecorino romano, and olive oil. Although Frank Pepe’s is known for its White Clam Pizza, we didn’t order it and got a small Special from their specialty pies. The Special consists of crushed Italian tomatoes, mozzarella, bacon, pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms, peppers, onions, grated pecorino romano, and olive oil.
The mozzarella tasted great, and it had the perfect amount of cheese. It had a slightly charred thin crispy crust that smelt almost burnt, but because of the coal-fired heat oven, they cooked it to perfection. This is what makes Frank Pepe’s stand out compared to other pizzerias. Their crust still comes out chewy and brings out the signature taste of their pizza. We were also served the Special at the same time, and this pizza tasted delicious with all the toppings combined. We can never forget to add the grated parmesan cheese on top of each slice, which makes everything taste better. I’d say these were one of the best pizzas I’ve had just for that charred texture and the flavors of both pies.
The interior of the place was old but really brought out the feel that this place was legendary because of the old seats and high ceilings, but only one stall bathroom, which made me realize how small the business was. When paying, they had a scan on the receipt so we could pay by phone and use Apple Pay!
Moving on to the next pizzeria is Sally’s Apizza, which opened in 1938 and is located at Wooster St just up the street next to Frank Pepe’s. This pizzeria is bigger and has an excellent outdoor seating area that is family-friendly for family gatherings. We didn’t see the inside since we ate outdoors, but the experience differed from Frank Pepe’s. When we got seated, we were told to order at the counter and pay ahead for our order, which was nice since we wouldn’t have to wait for a waiter or waitress to come by.
In the photo, you can see how pretty the area was decorated, and the vibes of the menu and atmosphere are quite different. We ordered a medium Mozzarella & Tomato Sauce Pie, Sally’s tomato sauce, and mozzarella. We also got a small specialty pie, Potato & Rosemary Special, which is potato, onion, mozzarella, parmesan, and rosemary. They also had Apple Pay, and we had to pay before the food was served.
We ordered at 2:30, and our food came out at almost 3, so we did wait a while compared to other people who ordered after us and got their food around the same time. We got our Potato & Rosemary Special first, and it tasted good, but in my personal opinion, something I wouldn’t order a second time. Mostly it could’ve been just my taste preference, and I should have gotten a pie with tomato like I usually always do. Still, overall it seemed underwhelming compared to the Mozzarella pie. The Mozzarella & Tomato Sauce Pie tasted terrific because they don’t add too much mozzarella but also don’t add too much sauce. I thought it was the perfect balance of both and matched well with my description of the perfect pizza.
I enjoy tasting more of the tomato than cheese, so this was more to my palate, but my friend said she enjoys the cheese more, so if you like tasting the sauce more in a pie, Sally’s is the better option for you. The coal-fired oven made these pies charred perfectly, and I left feeling full and satisfied. I’d come by again for the same pie and possibly try their clam pie and compare it to Frank Pepe’s.
So, what’s the verdict?
In my opinion, Frank Pepe Pizzeria was the better-tasting pizza! Which is deserved for being known as one of the best pizzerias in the country. Sally’s Apizza was also great and also a favorite to many people I’ve met, to truly know which is the best, go try for yourself!