New Haven Run

Larry took a break from chores, and I took a break from writing to make a quick dash to New Haven Wednesday afternoon. We needed luncheon plates since we always run out before the dishwasher fills up. I wanted to replace my wine glasses and Larry wanted to add to his plant collection. The obvious shopping location was Ikea. We timed it to avoid rush hour and discovered that someone finally saw the light and added a second lane at the merge of I-91 and I-95.

The store is so huge it didn’t seem crowded even though we must have encountered most of the freshman class from every one of the surrounding colleges with their parents. They were accumulating bedding, desks, chairs, curtains, you name it, in overbalanced carts. I’ve never seen so many sofas in one place in my life. We liked some of the kitchens but could not fathom assembling the stuff ourselves. There was one scary display of range hoods suspended over a slanted reflective aluminum surface. We both got dizzy before we figured out what was going on.

We staggered downstairs and found lunch plates for $3 each; a six-pack of wine glasses for $5; and a gorgeous orchid for $13. We bought a planter to make the orchid feel more elegant and picture frame for the Burchfield print (“Coincidences.”)

Then we went in search of pizza. Larry has been in the doldrums ever since he returned to Connecticut because the pie places he knew as a kid have all closed. What is available does not meet his standards. He kept looking for thinner and thinner crust, but nothing satisfied.

One day last year I met my former colleagues from the Hartford Courant at Frank Pepe’s in Manchester. For reasons that escape me I ordered a salad, but when I saw what they were eating, I realized I had most probably found what Larry had been searching for. Each pie had an ultra-thin crust with only the basic toppings. They were all baked in an old-style brick oven. The waitress explained as she took the orders that the traditional preparation would produce a slightly burnt crust. Everyone at the table said OK.

Larry and I saw Pepe’s at the Mohegan Sun, but Harv and Nancy insisted we had to go the original site in New Haven. We were nearby so we  tried calling before we left Ikea,  but I finally concluded they had taken the phone off the hook. Having forgotten the GPS and not being able to get through on the phone, we asked directions at a nearby gas station. The guy didn’t hesitate, Larry said. A left, a right and a right and there we were on Wooster Street, the tiny Little Italy of New Haven.

There was a disorganized line of people waiting outside and another line inside, but we walked right up to the counter and ordered one small pie with mozzarella and pepperoni (Larry), and one fresh tomato pie (summer only) with native fresh tomatoes, mozzarella, fresh garlic & basil (me). We took a walk up the street while we waited, which included a quick step into and out of a pastry shop. I regarded the combination of pizza and Italian pastry as potentially lethal. On the way back we discovered that Pepe’s offers Foxon Park sodas. This place is a few years older than Pepe’s and has unusual soda flavors which it sells in glass. Larry got a large cream soda, and I ordered the gassosa, a lemon flavored Italian variety. I found it a bit too sweet, but Larry promised to drink it if I didn’t.

Thus fortified we headed home, though we got on the highway going the wrong way and had to backtrack. The smell of the pizza threatened to drive me nuts but I survived.

Larry pronounced his pizza salty – the pepperoni and a bit burnt (I forgot to warn him) but exactly what he wanted in a thin crust. Mine was excellent, the only drawback being the bits of carbon that came off on my fingers from the burnt crust. I can’t imagine what a large pie would look like. I ate two slices on Wednesday and still have three slices left as of Friday evening.

With the multitude of pizza joints in town, it’s a shame that we’ll have to drive 70 miles roundtrip for a good pie.


2 Responses to “New Haven Run”

  1. Harv Goldstein Says:

    Next time you guys have a hankering for Pepe’s call us – we would be happy to wait in line with you! I LOVE the burnt crust and the grease running down my arm. New Haveners will ask you if you are Pepe’s or Sally’s – Nancy and I are Pepe’s.


  2. lizr128 Says:

    We will let you know, though I suspect it will be a while. We both just finished the slices last night. Have to try Sally’s next, for purposes of comparison.

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