Restaurants & Bars

Trenton - DeLorenzo's Tomato Pies (not DeLorenzo's Pizza)

Alex Toledano | Apr 13, 200202:25 PM     41

I just read the post from last week on DeLorenzo's Pizza in Trenton - I thought I'd put an article I wrote for our school newspaper a while back on his brother's restaurant, DeLorenzo's Tomato Pies, just a five minute drive away. I personally like this restaurant more - much fresher and higher quality ingredients, especially the tomatoes used in their sauce. Make sure to go on Friday when the owner is working the ovens.

If you've got an opinion on which you like more, post it - I'm interested in hearing what everyone's got to say. Here's the article:

Super DeLorenzo Bros.

We wanted Pizza, America's favorite food, straight out of Italy, and we wanted to get the hell out of Princeton. But a mentally grueling choice confronted us: did we want pizza or tomato pies? You're probably thinking that we're asking an inconsequential question of semantics typical of Princetonians. But it's more than that.

Rumor has it that DeLorenzo's in Trenton is the best place in all of Jersey to get that pure, thin-crust, classic Neopolitan pie. Flipping through the phone book to get the restaurant's address, we found two DeLorenzos: DeLorenzo's Pizza and DeLorenzo's Tomato Pies. Misprint? Not to the Trenton DeLorenzos. But which place has the real Pizza? Even the overly informative Chowhound.com, every ethnic food buff's bedside companion, offered no definitive clues. Logically, we settled on a coin toss.

Heads. We set off south on Route 1 for DeLorenzo's Tomato Pies. Once we arrived at the packed 50-person restaurant, it seemed like we had picked the right place. But maybe Saturday night wasn't the best time to come--we found ourselves having to wait in a tiny entryway with eight other people. Maybe going to the other place wasn't a bad idea after all.

We had time (20-plus min) in the cozy entrance area to soak in the ambience: the fake pine paneling; vinyl blinds and counters; torn, red plastic seat-coverings; antique push-button cash register; off-the-hook
rotary telephone; kitschy Coca-Cola clock from the 70s; and fotos of celebrities, some who were pictured in the restaurant and others who clearly have never stepped inside (like Joe DiMaggio). But once we glimpsed and smelled the "tomato pies," we left the Jersey of Jon Bon Jovi and Bruce Springsteen's high school days to be transported to someplace wonderful and Italian (not to belittle Jersey, but other places are sometimes more appealing). The divine aroma of the pies' freshly baked bread, warm melted cheese, and fresh tomatoes hit us with a full assault while our mouths remained sadly unsatisfied. We weren't leaving.

Finally, we sat down--no utensils, no menu. The waiter, Mario, appeared immediately to take our order, and he instantly realized we were tourists because we didn't know "the game". When we finally got the courage to ask about our options, he responded bitterly--small ($8-11) or large ($12-16) with a choice of toppings. Large it was.

Eventually everything came. Our "silverware," consisting of mini, sea green, plastic plates and beige-tinted plastic cups, seemed to have been robbed from a toy store. Our drinks arrived filled with ice bits oddly evocative of pellet-shaped deer shit, which were unexpectedly crunchy and tasty. The not-quite-round pie was inundated with tomato, cheese, roasted peppers, and mushrooms--no skimping by the chef. It was great. The crust was perfect--thin and crispy without being hard or burnt, the tomato sauce had just the right zest, and the cheese seemed rich but less stringy than mozzarella. When we asked Mario about the cheese, he shrugged: "it's, uhh, well you know, it's…it's cheese." After that was explained, we asked another waiter what the deal was with DeLorenzo's Pizza. Luigi, being somewhat more informative, told us that the two restaurants were owned by brothers who "still talk" to each other. Sounds like a pleasant relationship.

So we left, hoping to complete our night with pizza at the other DeLorenzo's, where we were welcomed by the infamous "Closed" sign. You might have wanted a nice, tidy comparison to complete the article, but we were perfectly happy this way. Being sensible, we went straight back for some more tomato pies. They had been true to form and were better than we knew Pizza to be. Maybe there really is a difference.

DeLorenzo's Tomato Pies. 530 Hudson St., Trenton. (609) 695-9534. Open Tues-Sun 3:30-10PM and Friday 11-1PM. Relieve yourself before you go--there's no bathroom.

DeLorenzo's Pizza. 1007 Hamilton Ave., Trenton. (609) 393-2952. Open Tuesday-Saturday for lunch.

Link: http://www.princeton.edu/~flavor/

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