It's been a roller coaster of emotions for local fans of beloved New Haven pizzeria Frank Pepe, which had almost expanded to Boston before the plug was pulled on what looked to be a done deal this past fall. (The restaurant had been set to replace The Fireplace in Brookline, which remains open today.) At the time, Fireplace owner Jim Solomon, himself a big Pepe's fan, noted that the chain was continuing to search around the Boston area and could eventually open multiple locations.
Now, hold on to your pizza-loving hats: another deal (for a different location) is reportedly in the works, according to Boston Restaurant Talk. It'll be "somewhere in the metro Boston area," and a lease is on the verge of being signed. It could open later in 2015, and it may be the first of several in the Boston area. The growing chain promises to announce the location as soon as the lease is signed.
In a summer 2014 pizza trek through New Haven, Eater critic Bill Addison ranked Pepe's second out of five of the classic pizza spots, preceded only by Sally's. Of Pepe's, he wrote:
"The staff hacked our two lopsided beauties into irregular slices; some were triangular, others rectangular. It was so rich with Italian umami that I didn't care about the shape. The tomato pie with mootz was a prototype for the "plain pizza" we all know, with the border of acidic-sweet red sauce and the golden specks of baked cheese, which mirrored the larger splotches of char that seared smokiness into the crust. Remarkable. Pepe's clam pie was my one previous foray into New Haven dining. This time I added bacon, which mimicked the clams' texture and stoked their saline qualities."
UPDATE: Chestnut Hill seems the likely candidate. When the Brookline location was in the works, the company filed paperwork with the state to form Frank Pepe's of Brookline, LLC. In January, an amendment changed the name to Frank Pepe's of Chestnut Hill, LLC.
A tipster hears that it's headed for the old Papa Razzi space at The Mall at Chestnut Hill (199 Boylston St.), which seems to be a good fit based on the conditions set forth in an old LinkedIn post seeking potential locations: "3500 square foot sites in/around Boston Metro — particularly Dedham, Natick, Chestnut Hill, and Braintree...preferably free standing or end-cap, single story, with good access and parking."