Trenton Tomato Pie: The Delorenzo's Cut
Okay yes, I ate an entire pizza for my 46th birthday celebratory meal. And yes, I said the “entire” pizza. I can assure you that I have a perfectly reasonable explanation that will justify this act of gluttony. I was tricked! Hoodwinked! I’m talking some CIA, MK Ultra level brainwashing shit disguised as the Delorenzo’s Cut.
It was a 90-mile round trip from my house to the Trenton New Jersey suburbs. The return 45 miles was an excruciating tease to my olfactory senses as I adhered to my wife’s “no eating in the new car” mandate. I’ll be damned if COVID-19 was going to stop me from enjoying my first ever traditional Tomato Pie. The hour and a half trip for takeout seemed reasonable. After all, I am the guy who flew from New Jersey to Chicago and back the same day for my first deep dish.
Not bragging, just affirming my pizza addiction.
You know that feeling you get when the closer you get to home, the more you have to pee, well that was happening with my hunger pains. I opened the door, gave my cat
Brody😻 a pat on the head and b-lined for the kitchen.
It’s all a little foggy from there. I opened the box and a perfectly charred albeit room temperature pie stared back. A Trenton Tomato Pie, for all intents and purposes is a traditional round pizza, with the cheese and ingredients added first then finished with a healthy saucing. I searched for the perfect first slice and realized the slices were all different sizes. I’m not talking like a slight miscut from an overzealous pizzaiolo. No, this was an intentional, disorganized cut. I slowly separated the slices revealing a Geometry teacher’s wet dream, a jigsaw puzzle of varying tomatoey shapes. Each slice offering its own attraction.
I chose the equilateral triangle and didn’t bother to reheat. The crust maintained its integrity and I took pleasure with each crunchy chew. The sweet sauce and nutty taste of charred garlic complimented the salty pepperoni. Three bites later and I was back hovering over the box looking for the next victim. I choose the scalene triangle, again much smaller than a typical slice. This pattern continued until I realized there was just one remaining slice in the box. How could I eat an entire pizza? I suspiciously eyed my vegetarian wife, “you eat some of my pizza?” She shot me an “as if” glare at my accusation as remnants of her own eggplant and ricotta pie remained visible on her cheek. I was tricked I tell you or maybe the pizza was really just that good.
Delorenzo’s Pizza hand cuts each pizza with a knife, no pizza roller, just like they did when Pasquale and Maria Delorenzo opened their Trenton NJ Pizzeria in the mid-1930s. That tradition continues over eighty years later; each pie like a unique fingerprint. In all of my travels, I’ve never experienced any other cut like this. Let me know if you are familiar with any unique pizza cuts, I’d love to check it out.
TRENTON TOMATO PIE HISTORY
Trenton Tomato Pie is a foodigenous confined mostly to the Jersey state capital and surrounding suburbs. Despite Trenton’s significance to the pizza history timeline, it doesn’t get the same national recognition as other pizza capitals like New Haven or Brooklyn. The reality is however, that this style of pizza has been around since 1910, just 5 years after Gennaro Lombardi opened the first ever Pizzeria in New York City’s Little Italy.
In 1910, Joe’s Tomato Pies opened up shop in Trenton coining the term Tomato Pie. Two years later, a seventeen-year-old Giuseppe Papa left that pizzeria to start his own shop Papas Tomato Pies. Nearly 110 years later, Papa’s is now the longest continually running pizzeria in the country. In the mid 1930’s, Pasquale and Maria Delorenzo set up shop forming a decades long friendly rivalry between the three shops.
Over the years, Joe’s closed down (1990s) and both Papa’s and Delorenzo’s relocated from Trenton to the nearby burbs. The latter adding additional locations as two siblings branched off each taking their family recipe with them. Additionally, another indigenous specialty the Mustard Pie, can be found only in the Trenton (Mercer County Area) – Mustard Pie is exactly as it sounds, spicy mustard is first applied directly to the dough, then the cheese, toppings and the sauce. Locals swear by the mustard sausage combo, but I’ll post more about that in the future.