Introducing: Frank Pepe’s Pizzeria Napoletana at Burlington Mall
Whether you fold it, use a knife and fork, or eat it just about any way you can get it, there are few things more delicious than a piping hot slice of pizza. It’s little wonder why we’re so excited about the recent opening of Frank Pepe’s Pizzeria Napoletana at Burlington Mall. This pizzeria is cranking out Neapolitan-style pizza utilizing old-school techniques that the restaurant’s namesake (Frank Pepe, himself!) brought stateside in the 1920s. Needless to say, they’ve got their practice perfected and the pizza is incredible. Read on to learn more about what’s certain to be your new favorite spot for some ‘za, then head to your local Simon to explore more delicious dining options. Warning: don’t read on an empty stomach!
Welcome to Burlington! Tell us about Frank Pepe’s Pizzeria Napoletana. Where and how did you start?
Frank Pepe’s Pizzeria Napoletana was founded in 1925 by Italian immigrant Frank Pepe in New Haven, Connecticut. He made his first entrepreneurial move by establishing his own bakery at 163 Wooster Street in New Haven — in business today as Frank Pepe’s the Spot — where he baked bread and delivered it to the local community.
Next, Frank and his wife, Filomena, who was a pivotal influence on his success, started making a simple and humble product from their homeland, pizza — or as they would say in their Neapolitan dialect, “apizza” (ah-beets).
They started off baking two types of pizza, one with tomatoes and grated cheese, garlic, oregano and olive oil and the other with anchovy. The Original Tomato Pie is still offered today and anchovy is still available as a topping.
A lot has happened since Frank Pepe starting baking “ah-beets” 85 years ago. Pizza has gone from an obscure ethnic dish to become a mainstay of the American dining scene. But what hasn’t changed at Pepe’s is the family’s commitment to the tradition of food quality and commitment to the community at large that Frank Pepe envisioned in 1925.
Tell us, what makes Neopolitan pizza the best?
We like to say our pizza is the perfect combination of crisp, charred, and chewy.
What’s your favorite specialty pie?
It’s a tie between the White Clam Pizza, featuring fresh clams, grated pecorino romano, garlic, oregano, and olive oil, and Frank Pepe’s Original Tomato Pie, featuring crushed Italian tomatoes, grated pecorino romano, and olive oil.
We’ve heard you can purchase incredible tomatoes right from Frank Pepe’s Pizzeria Napoletana— what makes them so special?
These genuine Italian tomatoes are available in restaurants as well as sold online for fans of the brands to buy and enjoy at home. Each year, Frank Pepe’s family gets together to host an official “tomato taste-test” to select the perfect combination of tomatoes. It’s a very involved and lengthy process, but it ensures that customers will only be enjoying the very best tomatoes when they come to Pepe’s!
What’s your favorite part of the location at Burlington Mall?
One of the coolest things about all of Pepe’s locations is that they each feature a replica of the original brick oven found in New Haven. The oven takes months to build and it is lit many times before the new location opens for business. We even host an official oven-lighting to mark the occasion! Despite expanding, Frank Pepe’s Pizzeria Napoletana is still very much a family business with great customer service and a big focus on quality.
What do you hope the dining experience is like for those trying Frank Pepe’s Pizzeria Napoletana for the first time?
Frank Pepe knew that only a coal fire would give his “tomato pies” their famous crisp, charred crust. When the brand began to open other Frank Pepe’s Pizzerias over 80 years later, we knew we had to recreate his original oven, brick by brick, with a fire door cast from a mold of the original. As the new stores opened, we made sure to use all the knowledge that our grandpa passed down to us. He taught us that overloading the oven when it got busy (and it did get busy!) would reduce the temperature to a point which would yield an inferior pie. We pay tribute to his memory by making sure every pizza meets his high standards. Even in today’s fast paced world, we know that our customers are willing to wait a few minutes longer for a perfect Frank Pepe pizza!