American institution Frank Pepe's Pizzeria Napoletana has begun selling their hand-picked tomatoes to the public, and we are unreasonably excited.
The last thing I want to do is start a fight, but I have to make one thing very clear: Frank Pepe's Pizzeria Napoletana serves the best pizza in New Haven, and, I believe, the country. (Okay, fight me.) But however you rank your pizzas, you surely have Pepe's somewhere on the list: the iconic pizzeria founded in 1925, which has since opened ten locations throughout New England, has earned international acclaim for its coal-fired, Neopolitan-style pies. I maintain that the garlicky, white clam pie is one of the most important pizzas in the country, as is their far simpler, but equally revelatory, tomato pie. Now, you can try to re-create it at home with the same tomatoes they use at Pepe's.
According to a Thursday press release, the pizzeria has started selling cans of tomatoes at all of their locations, as well as online. A pack of three, 28-oz. cans costs $10, which is a big steal, considering the tomatoes are "hand-selected by Frank Pepe's family members" (!) in Naples, Italy.
"Once a year, Frank Pepe’s grandsons, who now serve as co-owners of the world-renowned pizzeria, come together for a blind taste test of freshly harvested tomatoes that come right from their family’s hometown of Naples, Italy," the statement said. "The two grandsons sample over five different tomatoes, gathering their thoughts on which ones are perfect for crafting Frank Pepe’s Original Tomato Pie and their other iconic pizzas. It’s not just a matter of taste, but of the tomatoes’ density, texture, and transition of flavor once they are cooked."
The selected tomatoes are used on Pepe's tomato pie (among others), and now can be used at home. While you probably don't have a coal-fired oven that would allow you to achieve the perfect crispy-chewy crusper, you can at least now make a closer approximation of Pepe's signature tomato sauce in your own kitchen. (We're still waiting on a recipe.)
Pepe’s has locatinos in New Haven, Fairfield, Manchester, Danbury, West Hartford, Waterbury, and Uncasville, Conn., Yonkers, N.Y., Chestnut Hill, Mass., and Warwick, R.I.