November 27th, 2012 | City

Yale favorite Pepe’s to open new place in West Hartford

After welcoming Shake Shack and preparing to welcome Panera Bread and Chipotle, it seems like the Elm City has decided to give back to the food world: Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana, or Pepe’s, will be opening a new branch in West Hartford, Conn. in the coming months.

Pepe’s expects to move into a 3,200-square-foot store in Elmwood Shopping Center, replacing current tenants Puppy Center and Aquarium. Though the restaurant is still negotiating the terms of the contract with the venue’s landlord, officials said they hope to be open for business by the summer.

“We’ve always liked West Hartford,” said Pepe’s Chief Executive Officer Kenneth Berry to the West Hartford Courant. He added that the West Hartford restaurant would still be cooking using Pepe’s hand-laid brick ovens and recipes.

Nick Letizio ’13 said he thinks it is “fantastic” for Pepe’s to expand because he knows many people who would be willing to drive long hours to get a taste of its famed pizza.

“My family drove once from New Hampshire to eat at Pepe’s, so it’s great that they’re giving more people an opportunity to eat there,” Letizio said, adding that pizza is a great export for the Elm City and a source of pride. He added, though, that he thinks the expansion of a brand “invariably dilutes the product” and that the other restaurant will likely not have the same feeling of authenticity evident in the New Haven branch.

This is not Pepe’s first expansion outside of New Haven. The restaurant also has branches in Fairfield, Manchester, Uncasville, Danbury and Yonkers, N.Y.