bbq grill and accessories ad
AmazingRibs.com BBQ Logo
Meathead the Barbecue & Grilling Lover Cartoon

Read Smoke Signals, our free e-letter. No spam. Guaranteed. Enter your email here:

bbq ad

http://tinyurl.com/amazingribs

If you like AmazingRibs.com, please save this link and use it every time you go to Amazon. Amazon and many other websites pay us a small referral fee when you click our links and purchase from them. It works on everything from grills to diapers, Amazon never tells us who bought what, it has zero impact on the price you pay, but has a major impact on our ability to improve this site!

Digital Thermometers:
Stop Guessing!

thermopop bbq thermometer

Gold BBQ AwardA good digital thermometer keeps me from serving dry overcooked food or dangerously undercooked food. You can get a professional grade, fast and precise splashproof thermometer like the Thermopop (above) for about $24. The Thermapen (below), the Ferrari of instant reads, is about $96. It's is the one you see all the TV chefs and all the top competition pitmasters using. Click here to read more about types of thermometer and our ratings and reviews.

bbq thermapen

GrillGrates Take You To
The Infrared Zone

BBQ_grill_grates

Gold BBQ AwardGrillGrates(TM) amplify heat, prevent flareups, make flipping foods easier, produce great grill marks, keep small foods from committing suicide, kill hotspots, are easier to clean, flip over to make a fine griddle, smolder wood right below the meat, and can be easily removed and moved from one grill to another. Every gas grill and pellet smoker needs them.

Click here to read more about what makes these grates so special and how they compare to other cooking surfaces.

The Smokenator:
A Necessity For All Weber Kettles

smokenator bbq system

Gold BBQ Award If you have a Weber Kettle, you need the amazing Smokenator and Hovergrill. The Smokenator turns your grill into a first class smoker, and the Hovergrill can add capacity or be used to create steakhouse steaks.

Click here to read more.

The Pit Barrel Cooker

pit barrel c ooker bbqAbsolutely positively without a doubt the best bargain on a smoker in the world.

This baby will cook circles around the cheap offset sideways barrel smokers in the hardware stores because temperature control is so much easier (and that's because smoke and heat go up, not sideways).

Gold BBQ AwardBest of all, it is only $269 delivered to your door!

Click here to read our detailed review and the raves from people who own them.

scissor tongs

Best. Tongs. Ever.

Gold BBQ AwardMade of rugged 1/8" thick aluminum, 20" long, with four serious rivets, mine show zero signs of weakness after years of abuse. I use them on meats, hot charcoal, burning logs, and with the mechanical advantage that the scissor design creates, I can easily pick up a whole packer brisket. Click here to read more.

steak knives for bbq

The Best Steakhouse Knives

Gold BBQ AwardThe same knives used at Peter Luger, Smith & Wollensky, and Morton's. Machine washable, high-carbon stainless steel, hardwood handle. And now they have the AmazingRibs.com imprimatur. Click for more info.

pepe's white clam pizza finished

Pepe's Style White Clam Pizza Recipe

By Meathead Goldwyn

New Haven is famous for Yale, but to foodies, it's an old haven for pizza, the most famous of which is the white clam pie at Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana, founded in 1925. Pepe's is so popular that Zagat Guide called it "Connecticut's most popular restaurant". Period.

pepe's ovensThe main building at 157 Wooster St. has two large dining rooms, and when the line finally delivers you to the front door, the first thing you see is a huge tile encased coal burning oven built in 1936. That's coal they burn, not charcoal, and it runs at about 600°F! The menu includes a full range of apizza (it is pronounces ah-BEETS, and that's what the locals call it in their colloquial Italian-American). There are the standard "tomato pies", but the most distinctive menu item, a Pepe's original and now an icon and menu staple even at Pepe's competitors, is the white clam pizza.

The locals call their crust Neapolitan style, but it is definitely not like the original Italian Neapolitan style. The dough is more like a Roman dough, heavier, no doubt mixed with oil, and more breadlike, puffed up along the edges where it is crackly, and slightly charred underneath.

Whatever they call it, it is wonderful, and the white clam pie couldn't be simpler: Rhode Island Littleneck clams, freshly shucked on the premises, garlic, dried oregano, a dusting of grated Pecorino Romano cheese, and good olive oil. No tomato sauce. No mozzarella (called mootz by the locals). No sausage or pepperoni. So simple.

coal in pepe's ovensPepe's is one of those wonderful "only in America" stories. Frank Pepe was born in 1893 in the village of Maiori on the Amalfi coast of Italy, southwest of Naples. Broke, illiterate, and only 16 years old, he made the crossing with waves of immigrants in 1909. He worked for a short while in a factory and then returned to fight for Italy in WWI. He married Filomena Volpi, also from Maiori, in 1919, and the moved to New Haven where he worked for others making macaroni and then bread on Wooster St. Then, in 1925 he got up the cash and courage to set out on his own, starting a bakery at 163 Wooster. Apizza was among his products, and it took off. He hired his half brother, cousin, and three nephews, one of whom set out on his own and created Sally's Apizza, Pepe's closest competitor to this day, just up the street.

In 1937 Pepe bought the larger building next door, now the main restaurant. The original location, with the original oven, is still running under the name Frank Pepe's The Spot. Frank, Filomena, and their daughters Elizabeth and Serafina lived upstairs. Filomena could read and write and learned English quickly and was essential to operating the business side.

The signature white clam pie first appeared in the 1960s. The restaurant had been selling raw clams on the half-shell as an appetizer, and somebody had the great idea.

frank and serafina pepeAs Frank's health faded, the women took over. Frank died in 1969 at age 76, Filomena died in 1972, and in the early 1990s, his daughters retired. The business passed to their seven children. They still own and operate the side-by-side Wooster St. locations, and have opened locations in Fairfield, Manchester, Danbury, and at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, CT. They also have a location in Yonkers, NY.

Today there are long lines in front of the New Haven restaurant, and tens of thousands of memories cherished by Yale students who dated there, children who had their first pizza there, and family milestone parties held there.

Every conscientious restaurateur will tell you he makes his food with the best ingredients and a not-so-secret ingredient: Love. But when I talked to one of the owners, one of Pepe's grandchildren, Jennifer Bimonte-Kelly, love is unmistakably in her voice. A full-time waitress since 1985, she clearly loves the place, loves its employees, and loves her customers. "Money is there but its not in the forefront. Its respect for history. And our employees have the same feeling and respect, like it's an honor to work at Pepe's. I'm always blown away by the stories of our customers tell me. Its unbelievable. It makes tears come to my eyes. Pepe's is part of American history."

Yes it is.

Making White Clam Pizza At Home

making pepe's pizza at homeDuplicating Pepe's pies is impossible, but you can come close at home with the right ingredients, and a little love. Here's how I went about it.

Serves. 2
Preparation time. 10 minutes, not counting shucking the clams and making the crust. If you shuck clams, add another 45 minutes.
Cooking time. 20 minutes.
Makes. 14" pizza, enough for 2 or 3 people

Ingredients
1 (14") pizza crust
3 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons cornmeal
36 raw Littleneck clam meats
1/2 cup freshly grated real Italian Pecorino Romano cheese
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced fine
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons dried oregano

About the clams. Pepe's uses whole, live fresh Littleneck clams from Rhode Island and shucks them on site. You can do this too, but it is a lot easier to get pre-shucked fresh or fresh frozen clam meats. Whole shucked clams cook at about the same rate as the crust, but if you can only find chopped clams, they'll do, they just be a little chewier. I'd advise against minced clams because they are so small and will get rubbery. Canned whole clams are cooked in the canning process and have an inferior flavor and they can be very chewy, but in a pinch, they work.

For this recipe I try to find fresh shucked clams first, fresh frozen second, and sometimes, I buy live clams and then I cheat. I put them in a pot with about 1/4" of water, cover the pot, turn the flame on high, and in about 3 minutes they pop open. I watch them carefully so they don't cook. I want them as close to raw as possible, but this step makes shucking the sooooo much easier. I let them cool for a few minutes, and pop them open easily with my fingers. If Frank Pepe knew I did this he would ban me from his establishment for life, but it works fine, and there is no Meathead blood in the pizza.

Quahogs, Cherrystones, and Littlenecks, are all Quahogs of different sizes, in descending order. You need Littlenecks to be authentic, but the bigger clams can be used. If you get large Quahogs, cut them in half so they cook properly. Topneck, Longneck, Wellfleet, or other small clams can be used. Geoduck are too large. Some species have a thin black stocking over their "foot" that must be peeled before you put them on the pizza. To learn more about your options, and how best to shuck live clams, read my article on the Zen of Clams.

Salt. I know you want to add salt, but it is not necessary. The clams and cheese are salty enough.

Optional. If you want, a few flakes of red pepper are nice, and if you absolutely must, a few chunks of chopped of tomato are good, but heretical.

finished pepe's pizza at homeMethod
1) Preheat the grill or oven to at least 450°F. If you can get it hotter, do. If you are using a stone, put it into the cold oven and let it heat at least 30 minutes.

2) You can use a frozen dough from the grocer, just not a precooked dough. But I strongly recommend you try making your own by using the simple no knead pizza crust recipe you will find by clicking this link. It has the right amount of oil in it for the same kind of crispy crust you find at Pepe's.

Toss the flour on your work surface and spread it thin. Place the dough in the center and begin working it outward and roll it thin, less than 1/4". Move it to a peel if you are cooking on a pizza stone or to an oiled pan, either works fine. Throw some cornmeal on the peel or pan to help the dough slide on and off, and for a bit of flavor.

3) Pat the clams dry and place them on the dough, spreading them out evenly, and take them to within 1.2" of the edge. Then sprinkle on the garlic, then the cheese, then the oregano, and finally drizzle on the oil. The oil will pool but don't worry, it will spread out in the oven. I like to take a brush and paint a little oil on the edges of the dough.

4) Bake for about 30 minutes until the dough on top and the bottom is tan to golden. If you wish, push your luck and let it go until there is a slight blackening on the bottom, but beware, too much char can ruin your pie. Whatever you do, don't pull the pie until the clams are cooked through. Raw clams, although they are popular on the half-shell, are susceptible to contamination and a common source of food-borne illness. You will notice what looks to be a lot of oil on the surface while it is cooking, but don't worry, it will be absorbed. You will also notice a strong garlic smell. It will keep away the vampires.

5) Remove, slice, and serve with a cold lager beer, a wheat beer, or a crisp Sauvignon Blanc.

charred bottom

Here are some good videos of clam shucking and cooking

This page was revised 9/8/2011


Please read this before posting a comment or question

Please use the table of contents or the search box at the top of every page before you ask for help. Then please post your question on the appropriate page. Please tell us everything we need to know to answer your question such as the type of cooker and thermometer you are using. Dial thermometers are often off by as much as 50°F so if you are not using a good digital thermometer we can't help you. Please read this article about thermometers.

MISSING COMMENTS. On March 16, 2014 the company that supplied the software for our comments section went out of business. The company that bought them was not up to our standards, so on April 17, 2014 we moved to a new service and and thousands of previous comments were lost. So we must begin again. Sigh. Click here to learn more about our comment system.

Moderators

LeaderDog.org Ad on BBQ site

About this website. AmazingRibs.com is all about the science of barbecue, grilling, and outdoor cooking, with great BBQ recipes, tips on technique, and unbiased equipment reviews. Learn how to set up your grills and smokers properly, the thermodynamics of what happens when heat hits meat, as well as hundreds of excellent tested recipes including all the classics: Baby back ribs, spareribs, pulled pork, beef brisket, burgers, chicken, smoked turkey, lamb, steaks, barbecue sauces, rubs, and side dishes, with the world's best buying guide to barbecue smokers, grills, and accessories, edited by Meathead.

Advertising on this site. AmazingRibs.com is by far the most popular barbecue website in the world and one of the 50 most popular food websites in the US according to comScore and Quantcast. Visitors and pageviews increase rapidly every year. Click here for analytics and advertising info.

© Copyright 2014 by AmazingRibs, Inc. AmazingRibs.com is published by AmazingRibs, Inc., a Florida Corporation. Unless otherwise noted, all text, recipes, photos, and computer code are owned by AmazingRibs, Inc. and fully protected by US copyright law. This means that you need written permission to publish or distribute anything on this website. But we're easy. To get reprint rights, just click here. You do not need permission to link to this website. Note. Some photos of commercial products such as grills were provided by the manufacturers and are under their copyright.