Frank Pepe Pizza Napoletana, the legendary New Haven, Connecticut, pizzeria that’s been named America’s best by The Daily Meal more often than any other pizza joint, will be opening its tenth location in Warwick, Rhode Island, the Providence Journal reported. The pizzeria, which will be located at 21 Universal Blvd. and will seat 90 diners, is expected to open in late April or May.
The pizzeria, which was founded by an Italian World War I veteran named Frank Pepe back in 1925, is today run by his grandson, Gary Bimonte. He’s slowly expanded the company out to nine locations (all of which except for two are in Connecticut), and according to Bimonte, the most important part of each new restaurant is the hand-built coal-fired brick oven, which weighs 100,000 pounds and takes six weeks to build. Each oven is a nearly exact replica of the New Haven original, and goes through a curing and seasoning process that lasts for more than a month.
The pizzeria is perhaps best known for its white clam pie, topped with grated cheese, olive oil, fresh garlic, oregano, and chopped fresh clams. Many of the great old-school pizzerias use coal to fire their ovens, but because the practice was outlawed in cities like New York many years ago, very few pizzerias were grandfathered in and are still allowed to burn coal (Grimaldi’s and Patsy’s are among the exceptions). Bimonte claims that it’s the coal fire (which doesn’t create any steam, as a wood fire does) that gives his pizzas their signature crisp, chewy, slightly charred crust.
Bimonte told the Journal that he plans to eventually expand the business out to 30 or more locations, which is sure to make it one of America’s favorite pizza chains.