Pizza with pedigree: New Haven’s Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana coming to Plantation

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A beloved shrine for Connecticut pizza connoisseurs is about to dish its coal-fired pies in South Florida.

The pizzeria this month signed a lease at 321 N. University Drive, #800, one of many bar and restaurant chains shuffling into the mega shopping-hotel complex taking shape at the former site of Plantation’s Fashion Mall.

Naples-based commercial real-estate developer Trinity Commercial Group, which is bringing Pepe’s to South Florida, lists the restaurant on its website, and records show its food permit application is still in progress.

“While it is still in the early planning stages, the Pepe’s family is always exploring opportunities in new markets and looks forward to sharing the Pepe’s experience by bringing New Haven pizza to South Florida,” Joanna Roffo, a spokesperson for the restaurant, told the Sun Sentinel on Monday.

When Frank Pepe opened his Pizzeria Napoletana in 1925, he baked thin-crust pizza in the Neapolitan style, cooked in hot brick ovens to produce a distinctive char on the crust. His signature -- and that of New Haven pizza in general -- is the white clam pizza, topped with littleneck clams, garlic, oregano and Romano cheese.

When Frank Pepe opened his Pizzeria Napoletana in 1925, he baked thin-crust pizza in the Neapolitan style, cooked in hot brick ovens to produce a distinctive char on the crust. His signature — and that of New Haven pizza in general — is the white clam pizza, topped with littleneck clams, garlic, oregano and Romano cheese. (sbossert / iStock via Getty Images)

New Englanders and the part-time South Floridians who flock to our shores every winter know well – and swear by – Frank Pepe’s trademark crispy-chewy thin crust. It’s coal-fired “apizzas” are baked at a super-hot 650 degrees Fahrenheit for a few minutes, yielding a pie with charred and blistered crust and cheese like molten lava.

At Frank Pepe’s original location on New Haven’s Wooster Street, their popular tomato pie is topped with crushed tomatoes and a sprinkling of Romano and olive oil. But its hands-down signature is the white clam pizza, generously topped with fresh-shucked littleneck clams, olive oil and white sauce, Romano cheese and flecks of fresh-grated garlic and oregano.

The family-run restaurant, now operated by third- and fourth generation descendants of original owner Frank Pepe, has 12 locations in Massachusetts, New York and Rhode Island, and soon in Alexandria, Va.

Frank Pepe’s spokesperson also confirmed that the pizzeria is eyeing a second location in Delray Beach.

Frank Pepe’s Pizzeria Napolitana, at 321 N. University Drive, #800, will open in early 2022 at Plantation Walk. Go to PepesPizzeria.com.

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