A month or so ago I posted on the Boston board that I thought Santarpio's in Boston was equal to Pepe's.
I was wrong.
On Thursday I drove from Boston to D. C. with the specific intention of stopping at Pepe's. (A bad storm and airports with suspended operation also contributed to this decision.) At 4:30 I walked directly in off of the street and, after asking at the register if I could seat myself, I sat down in a booth in the front room. Fifteen minutes later a waittress finally approached me and asked me if I had been seated. I told her that the woman at the counter had said to seat myself and she then acted like I should get up and go stand in the line that had formed in the interum.
Having driven one hundred and fifty miles, having waited fifteen minutes for anyone to appear, well, this arrogance bordered on my walking out. In fact if this were virtually any other restaurant in America I WOULD HAVE WALKED OUT. For the 25 years I have been going to Pepe's (once a year or so) this has proven to be one of the most arrogant, painful experiences of any that I have found just to have a meal. I should also note that later when I asked if I could order carry out I was told to go next door to the Spot-Pepe'
s did not have carryout. While the Spot is the original Pepe's and also has a coal oven I, for whatever reason, believe Pepe's oven to produce a better crust.
Anyway, I ordered a second pizza (that's right!) after finishing the first, took a bite of it, then requested a box to take the rest with me.
Arrogance aside there is one reason why I continue to go back: Pepe's has the best pizza crust on earth, better than anything in Naples, Rome, Brooklyn, south Philly or Boston. Santarpio's is good. Friendly too with a great ambience. I'd really like to say that either it or Sally's is the best, especially considering the arrogance at Pepe's. But I think because of the crust and "that" oven Pepe's is still the best I have ever had.
Two days later I'm still heating up an occasional piece. And that is better than anything I can find in the Washington area.
But I'll tell you, if you're not a regular and no matter how you're dressed, present yourself or how pleasant your attitude is, they know they are good and clearly let you know they are doing you a favor to allow you to taste their pizza.
If I had to choose one pizzaria to be across the street from me it would be either Sally's or Santarpio's. I couldn't tolerate Pepe's arrogance very often. Still, it is the best pie on earth.