Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana, the legendary New Haven, Connecticut, brand credited with pioneering the regional style of thin-crusted, charred “apizza” that’s often topped with clams, is reportedly planning to open a location in Bethesda’s Westfield Montgomery Mall next year.
WTOP cites sources with knowledge of the negotiations in a report published today that says Frank Pepe anticipates opening its first D.C. area outpost in the suburban Maryland mall by late 2020. Earlier this week, Popville published a reader’s tip that Pepe was making a move into the District, then updated the post to clarify the pizzeria would land in Montgomery County. Inside the mall, Pepe could compete with an outpost of Maryland pan pizza brand Ledo. Eater has reached out to a representative of the brand for more information.
Founded in 1925, Frank Pepe is recognized as the oldest pizzeria in New Haven. The Daily Meal has ranked it No. 1 on a list of 101 best pizzas in America for two years in a row. A coal-fueled brick oven gives Frank Pepe’s pizzas a distinct, blackened crust.
Seven grandchildren of the pizzeria’s namesake oversee the brand, which has grown to 11 locations, including two in the Boston area, one in Warwick, Rhode Island, and one in Yonkers, New York. Gary Bimonte, one of the grandchildren and the face of the brand, told Eater in 2015 that Pepe’s eventually hoped to have 20-30 stores spread across the Northeast.
In Eater’s Definitive Guide to New Haven Pizza, published in 2014, Connecticut food writer Amy Kundrat writes: “Although much time and expense has gone into duplicating the taste and feel of the Pepe’s experience, none come close to the experience of the original Pepe’s location in New Haven.” A year later, Boston Herald writer Kerry J. Byrne reported the pies at a recently opened Pepe outpost were “perfect, as delicious as I remember it in New Haven.”