According to the internet today is National Pizza Day. I wasn’t aware of this until I checked my Twitter feed this morning. I don’t remember today ever being National Pizza Day in the past but I’m not complaining.
Pizza is one of the most talked about foods in all of New England region. The entire country even recognizes Connecticut for their Pizza. Everyone has their loyalty and allegiance to their favorite pizza spot in the state. Personally I like Modern in New Haven the best. Followed closely by Colony Grille.
But when it comes right down to choosing between two of Connecticut’s most famous nationally recognizable pizza places who takes the crown?
As far as national awareness, branding, and being in the cultural conversation Mystic Pizza probably wins. When Hollywood makes a movie about your restaurant you’ve made it.
Though, one could argue that the movie Mystic Pizza came out in 1988 and now almost 30 years later no one cares. I’m pretty sure even Julia Roberts doesn’t care at this point. In fact the only people we do still care is the staff in Mystic who play the movie on an endless loop in the dining room from open to close.
When it comes to the actual pizza itself it’s not even a contest. Their pie isn’t Connecticut pizza. At all. It’s on it’s own mediocre level. I’m pretty sure I’ve had a few rectangle shaped chew toys in my high school cafeteria that were just as good. (Full disclosure: I honestly enjoyed that school pizza on pizza day) It’s not terrible, it’s just not awesome. Hell, they even sell it frozen in grocery stores around the U.S.!
Although I will say that at the end of the day pizza is pizza. It’s near impossible to make a pizza that doesn’t actually taste good, but Mystic is pretty subpar.
Then you have all the financial tax troubles with the owners of the place. That’s what happens when you make pizza that’s inferior and not up to Connecticut pizza lover’s standards. You start stealing money just to get by and then get caught. Don’t mess with people and their pizza. Ever.
Ah yes. Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana. Locally known simply as Pepe’s. Have you ever told someone that you’ve never tried Pepe’s just to get their gut reaction? I have. It’s pretty fun. I do it all the time. People actually get angry. For real mad at you. Once the anger wears off they just keep asking bewildered questions. “But.. but how? why? You have never? Come on!” This proves how much passion people have about this Connecticut pizza institution. Try doing the same game by saying “Yeah, I’ve never had Mystic Pizza before”. You’ll get a confused “wasn’t there a movie about that place? Where is Mystic anyway?”
Everything is right about Pepe’s. The atmosphere, the attitude, the pie itself. Believe the hype. Pepe’s is light years ahead of it’s competitors and no one is catching up anytime soon. They are even now expanding up to Massachusetts. Which will never be the same as New Haven. Our neighbors to the north have no idea how lucky they are to be getting Pepe’s pizza right in their backyard. It’s too bad.
There isn’t a better feeling in the world than sitting in one of those old school Pepe’s booths and seeing/smelling that silver tray with wax paper being carried down the floor from the kitchen. My mouth is watering just typing this.
I can’t really come up with many reasons to hate Pepe’s. Unless of course you own another Connecticut pizza establishment trying to take out the king.
So who is the superior Connecticut pizza place? It’s pretty obvious what I think if you’ve read this far in the post. What do you say? Pepe’s or Mystic?