The saying goes that even bad pizza is pretty good. I mostly agree with that statement, unless we’re talking about Papa John’s, which is a travesty. Growing up in New Jersey I’ve been spoiled with exceptionally above average pies. Something about the water and some kind of aquifer that makes for extra special crust or something. Plus add in a ton of Italian Americans and you’re in business.
New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut are pizza heaven. And as a kid growing up in Clinton Township you simply couldn’t go wrong with a slice from Pizza Como (RIP), DiMola’s or Natale’s. I’ve been all over this crazy country, and nothing tastes better than a tri-state pie (sorry Philly and Chicago). Although my pizza palate has gotten a little more refined as of late, there are few things in this world more satisfying than the perfect slice.
It just so happens that over the past month my taste buds have been blessed by some of the most iconic pizza on the East Coast. After recording my very first podcast sesh with the gents from Not A Foodie Show and a delightful lunch at the one Michelin star Oxomoco in Greenpoint, Brooklyn (CougEats Blog Post), I figured I couldn’t leave BK without grabbing a slice from the iconic Paulie Gee’s for dessert because I’m a fat piece of crap and it was basically on the way back to my car. I had no excuse, plus I don’t make it out to Greenpoint very often (ever).
I’m not especially up to date with NYC pizza trends, but I had recently listened to an episode of Here’s the Thing featuring Debra of eatquestnyc who mentioned that she thought Paulie Gee’s Slice Shop was the best slice in the city. Spoiler alert: it lived up to the hype.
A greasy, cheesy masterpiece with pepperoni cups crisped to perfection and a firm crust that successfully captured any grease pockets and held up well to the classic fold. I threw on some hot pepper flakes, folded it, and was on my way. Without a doubt one of the top five best slices I’ve ever eaten.
Paulie Gee’s Slice Shop
110 Franklin St, Brooklyn, NY 11222
I have a confession to make. I’ve (regrettably) become addicted to Barstool Pizza Reviews in addition to being a fan of Section 10, Barstool’s Red Sox podcast. Yes, I’m trash. Okay. Now we have that out of the way.
I’ve always heard that Connecticut and New Haven in particular were a special kind of coal fired pizza utopia. I thought: How could this be? Connecticut is terrible. It’s like a much much worse version of New Jersey. But, El Presidente recently spent some time reviewing a bunch of spots there and most received some outlandishly high ratings. One bite everybody knows the rules.
Stephanie and I had a wedding on the calendar in Milford, CT over Memorial Day Weekend and figured this would be as good a time as any to scope out some of these famous (a)pizzerias. It seemed like Sally’s Apizza, Modern Apizza, Roseland Apizza, and the original Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana were the spots, but unfortunately, most were closed on Memorial Day. Luckily for us, Frank Pepe’s was very much open.
Home to the original white clam pie, Frank Pepe’s is a New Haven pizza institution. Many have claimed it to be the best clam pie in the country and maybe…the world. I wouldn’t go that far, but these were still some damn good pies.
As it was our first time there, we didn’t stray too far from the classics. We got a twelve inch original tomato pie and the famous white clam pie, forgoing bacon to keep it as authentic as possible. Something I would normally never do. The crust is the star here. Crispy, crunchy and blackened, it was structurally perfect. The pies themselves were sublime, though they didn’t necessarily reach “best pizza of our lives” levels. Maybe we should have opted for the bacon.
We ended up taking about six slices home and honestly, we kind of liked them even better after re-heating in the oven. The clams were a little crispier, which is how I tend to like them. The original tomato with some added red pepper flakes and hot honey and the white clam smothered in red pepper flakes ascended them to a higher plane of pizza existence.
Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana
157 Wooster St, New Haven, CT 06511
Yeah, there’s definitely some really bad pizza out there, but I feel like junk food pizza, good pizza, and artisan pizza maybe need to be put into their own categories. Hell, even a Pizza Hut Stuffed Crust Pizza scratches that junk food itch when I feel like slumming it. The point is: Pizza is love. Pizza is life. And I’ll share a pie with you any day. Thanks for comin’ out.