Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana is opening at The Mall at Chestnut Hill, as previously reported, fulfilling the dreams of many a New Haven-style pizza lover. The earlier estimate of a fall 2015 opening is still in place, and the restaurant has started sharing updates on Facebook and on its website, noting that construction is underway.
"Our entire family is excited to be building our new location in Chestnut Hill Massachusetts," states the website. "Many of you have noticed when building a new store in a mall, the contractors need to erect a barricade. We thought it only fitting to create one from a photo of our original location back in the 1940s."
The restaurant also shared a peek at the oven, currently under construction. It's coal-fired, handmade, and meant to be a duplicate of the oven at the original New Haven location, as are the rest of the ovens within the growing chain.
Last year, Connecticut-based food writer Amy Kundrat wrote a definitive guide to New Haven pizza (rather, "apizza," as it's called there) for Eater.com, detailing the regional style, from the perfect char to the "mootz." Pepe's is "the granddaddy of New Haven's pizza scene," she wrote. The signature pie is the white clam, featuring an "intoxicating combination of romano cheese, fresh garlic, olive oil, parsley, and clams atop the chewy and charred oblong pies." ("Add bacon," she counseled.)
And last summer, Eater's roving critic Bill Addison ate his way through five of New Haven's classic pizzerias, ranking Pepe's second. The lopsided pizzas were "rich with Italian umami." Addison tried the bacon-and-clam combo, finding that the bacon "mimicked the clams' texture and stoked their saline qualities."
If the Chestnut Hill outpost hits its planned 2015 opening, it'll be just in time to celebrate the restaurant's 90th year.
UPDATE, 7/8/15: The bricks making up one side of the oven have been set, the store shared today.