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The Last Thing You Need After Thanksgiving

November 26, 2018

Traditions. Traditions are important. Maybe it’s just my inner Tevia coming out.

So what did we do on Thanksgiving? The same thing we always do on Thanksgiving. And that’s just how I like it. We drove down to Raf’s for a Thursday feast. Then it was off to Connecticut for a belated Saturday feast with some extended family. Aunt N made my favorite stuffing, her creamed pearl onions, and quite possibly the best turkey she’s ever roasted.

My cousin SC brought cheeses from Di Bruno Brothers in Philadelphia. I brought a selection of interesting beers and a couple ciders. And we happened to create one of those jaw dropping pairings I’m always hoping to discover. The washed rind of a well cared for Taleggio with a glass of Oude Gueuze Tilquin à L’Ancienne.

Now, there’s one thing you definitely don’t need after two Thanksgiving feasts in three days.

But this is where tradition kicks in. As well as a sense of place. Because my aunt and uncle live just twenty minutes away from the original Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana in New Haven, with its beautiful coal fired crust.

Some people think this place is all about clam pizza. And yes, there is clam pizza on the menu. And yes, I do enjoy a slice or two of the stuff. But ultimately, I think there are tastier things on the menu. One of which is particularly surprising.

Really, Pepe’s is all about the small and delicate bubble structure that can be found within the crispy yet tender bottom crust. That, and a healthy dose of oven char to add to the complexity of the flavors. But mostly it’s about that dough.

Maybe we went a little bit crazy this year, but we ended up walking away with seven pies.

One small plain red
One small red mozzarella
One small white clam
One small spinach, mushroom, and gorgonzola
One large white broccoli and garlic
One large red mozzarella, bacon, and onion
One large red mozzarella and pepperoni

The “plan red” is Pepe’s tomato pie. And despite the fact that Little Miss Fussy typically does not like a lot of sauce on pizza, she typically loves this pie. Although this year, with more options, she wasn’t going for it.

We asked the cashier if she had any insight into topping combinations we may not have considered, and she confided that her favorite was bacon and onion. Score!

One of the things I’ve learned over the years is to watch the pizzas coming out of the oven, to see if any look extraordinarily good. This is how I discovered the excellent pepperoni at Pepe’s. Because, I tend to stay away from pepperoni, since most of it is awful. However, the stuff at Pepe’s is thick sliced, with crisp edges, and a delightfully assertive flavor.

As is our custom, we ate several slices out on the sidewalk by the car, before making the drive back to Milford. When we got home, there was more pizza eating. Much like New York slices, I really like how the reheat crisps the bottom crust. That said, more time in the oven will totally overcook any clams. However, it does wonders for the bacon and onion.

At one point, I had to get rid of my pizza plate, so I would stop getting more slices. There are some things for which I have very little willpower. A table full of Pepe’s pizza is definitely one of them. Especially since there was no way my family could finish all the pizzas we ordered.

So now, in addition to some stuffing and turkey, we’ve got some leftover pizza to get us through the next few days.

I’m going to eat it, because it’s delicious. But I’ve also got to lose a few pounds somehow. Maybe the answer is raking. At least I’m not longer surrounded by charcuterie. That’s going to help. Although I was half thinking about mixing up a batch of gravy to pour over the non-pizza leftovers.

That is probably a bad idea.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Dave permalink
    November 27, 2018 6:24 am

    Where is Pepe’s?

  2. Chad V permalink
    November 27, 2018 11:07 pm

    You have a worldclass Thanksgiving tradition! The clam pie is extraordinary but you really can’t go wrong with any pie that comes out of Pepe’s oven. I’ve never regretted what I’ve ordered but I do occasionally leer at the adjacent tables and consider asking if they want to share.

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