Last weekend marked the end of an era for Delorenzo’s Tomato Pies on Hudson Street in Trenton, NJ. It was one of the country’s greatest pizzerias, not only because of its food but also as an iconic space that was enjoyed by so many over the course of its 60+ years in existence. But although Trenton’s pizza (err…. tomato pie) scene has taken a hit, there’s still refuge for those who dig an honest place for an honest pie that hasn’t been corrupted or modified since day 1. After my final visit to Delorenzo’s on Hudson St with Men Who Dine and Nick from Pizza Rules, we hit two additional spots to round out the trip. It’s obvious that the Trenton tomato pie lives on even without its most famous landmark.
Delorenzo’s Pizza on Hamilton Ave
First of all, notice the difference in the name: Delorenzo’s Tomato Pies on Hudson Street is the one that just closed (on Sunday) and Delorenzo’s Pizza on Hamilton Ave remains open. The two were started by brothers but the pizza is completely different. DTP (Delorenzo’s Tomato Pies) lays the sauce on top of the cheese while DP (Delorenzo’s Pizza) cheeses above the sauce. The crust is also different but I don’t want to go down this road or we’ll be comparing doorknob and toilet seat choices before long. Suffice it to say this is a place you can grab some good food and be comfortable while doing it.
I know, it’s empty. That’s because Nick and I got there as they were about to close. The line at DTP was long so we had only 30 min to stop by the remaining two pizzerias on our hit list (both are closed by 8:45pm). Just look at those beautiful red booths and classy wood paneling. Just in case you can’t taste it from a photo of the interior, here’s a shot of the pie…
All my Trenton photos look funny, but the crust really was this yellow. Is it semolina? Corn? I have no idea but maybe it’s a secret from the ancient pizza making rituals. Didn’t you know that Delorenzo’s Pizza is related to the origin of pizza itself? According to their menu, the pizza maker at DP was trained by a direct descendant of Domenico Testa, the pizza maker who allegedly served pizza to King Ferdinand II in the 1830s. Is it true? And if so, does it actually mean anything? (wow, I’ve been watching too much Ancient Aliens lately)
Papa’s Tomato Pies
This one’s my personal favorite Trenton spot. It has the same homey vibe as both Delos’ but even more charm in terms of its story. Joe Papa opened this place in 1912 after working at another tomato pie joint. His family has run it ever since, which makes it the oldest continuous pizzeria business in the USA. Don’t confuse this claim with Lombardi’s in New York City, which was the first dedicated pizzeria in the USA. Both these claims are different from Totonno’s, which has been run by the same family in the same location since 1924 (Papa’s moved), making it the longest running pizzeria location in the country.
Papa’s Tomato Pies is adorable. Nick Azzaro and his family take great care of you and there’s even a booklet with articles, reviews and history on each table. Again, it’s only empty in the photo because we got there late, but this is absolutely what a pizzeria is supposed to look like. Get a load of those light fixtures! And the pie ain’t bad either…
Classic NJ pizza at its best. Sorry it’s in a box, I’m really not into that, but they were closing and we had to hit the road. I should also point out that this is closest Trenton’s old tomato pie scene has to a New York pizza because the crust is a bit softer than both Delos and Papa’s cuts each pie into 8 slices whereas Delo’s cuts their into 10. Don’t ask me why.
It’s sad that Delorenzo’s Tomato Pies closed but there’s still plenty of action at these other Trenton landmarks. Just be sure to check their schedules before you go, I’ve taken drives down only to meet a CLOSED sign on more than one occasion.