Trenton tomato pie, for all intents and purposes, is like the traditional round pizza you get from your local pizzeria, with one notable exception: Cheese and toppings go on first, and then the sauce. Also, it is called “tomato pie,” not pizza. Oh, and it tastes better.
Not to be confused with the thick, rectangular tomato pies served in Italian bakeries in Philadelphia and Utica, New York, or the pizza strips of Rhode Island, these more pizza-like tomato pies originated in the Italian neighborhood of Chambersburg in Trenton. While we may never find out exactly why Joe’s Pizza reversed the order of their tomato pie when they first made it in 1910, we do know that it caught on. There are a few things you can be assured of when ordering pizza in Trenton: 1) If you ask for a “pizza,” you are from out-of-town, and 2) all respectable Trenton tomato pies are served in order of cheese, topping, and then sauce.
Good to know: Although Trenton tomato pie is regionally rooted in, duh, Trenton, Jersey Shore favorites Maruca’s Tomato Pie (Seaside Heights), Mack’s (Wildwood), and Manco & Manco (Ocean City) all have origins in Trenton, as their respective owners saw opportunities to grow with the seasonal crowds.
Where: Like many Trentonians, the OG establishments have long since packed up and moved to the ‘burbs. Papa’s Tomato Pies (19 Main St., Robbinsville, map) holds the title of the longest continually family-owned pizza restaurant in the U.S. In 1912, 17-year-old Giuseppe “Joe” Papa started Papa’s, and three generations later, the pizzeria is still cranking pies out of its Robbinsville, NJ, location.
While Papa’s is the oldest, DeLorenzo’s Pizza (147 Sloan Ave., map) and DeLorenzo’s Tomato Pies (two locations including 2350 NJ-33, Robbinsville, map) compete for the title of best Trenton tomato pie. The DeLorenzo cousins follow their grandparents’ recipes, and the friendly family rivalry has produced loyal patrons spanning generations.
You can’t go wrong with any of these three. We went to DeLorenzo’s Tomato Pies and were not disappointed.
When: DeLorenzo’s Tomato Pies is open for lunch, Tues-Fri, 11am-2pm, and for dinner, Tues-Sun, 4pm-9pm.
Order: Pictured is the thin, crisp pie with a slight char ($17), with added pepperoni (under the sauce, naturally). As you might notice, the slices are all different sizes—DeLorenzo’s pies are still hand-cut with a knife like in the old days. And while we always recommend getting the signature dish, you cannot go wrong asking for a gluten-free crust. But the real treat is on the “secret” menu: mustard pie. It’s a hyper local specialty with spicy mustard (yes, mustard) generously applied to the dough prior to the cheese and sauce. It’s a must-try!
Alternatively: Many favorite watering holes, like Sportsmen’s Pub (819 Lalor St #6556, Trenton, map) and JoJo’s Tavern (2677 Nottingham Way, Trenton, map), also offer great tomato and mustard pies in this area. —Contributed by Adam Horvath (Foodigenous)