Philly Tomato Pie

Page: 12 > Showing page 1 of 2
Author
terryl
Junior Burger
  • Total Posts : 10
  • Joined: 2005/02/18 08:22:00
  • Location: Chalfont, PA
  • Status: offline
2006/10/26 10:09:01 (permalink)

Philly Tomato Pie

Tomato pie is the region's signature dish
By RICHARD PAWLAK
Philadelphia Daily News

IN CHICAGO, Lou Malnati's serves the city's classic deep-dish pizza. In New Haven, Conn., it's Pepe's or Sally's for a heady white clam pie. Wolfgang Puck's duck-sausage pizza still rules in Los Angeles. And in New York, fuhgeddaboudit, nothing tops the smoky, charred pies from the coal ovens of Lombardi's or Totonno's. But is there a pizza that Philly can call its own?

The brick-oven-baked beauties from Tacconelli's in Port Richmond and Marra's in South Philly are strong contenders, but Philly isn't really a brick-oven pizza town.

One style is uniquely ours.

A hearty, no-nonsense pizza that's as intense as a Trent Cole quarterback sack: Tomato pie.

But the humble tomato pie has multiple personalities. A "bakery-style" version shows up in Italian bakeries across the region, notably in Manayunk, the northwest suburbs and the Far Northeast. It is a large, rectangular baking sheet of hand-rolled, yeasty crust, a rich, thick, chunky tomato sauce and sometimes a light sprinkling of grated cheese on top. Sold at room temperature, it's a staple for hundreds of tailgaters at every Eagles home game.

A tiny sliver of the Northeast along Frankford Avenue is home to a different kind of tomato pie: Round dough topped with slices of mozzarella or provolone (or both), followed by a spicy, garlicky tomato sauce. It emerges from the oven bright red, thin and crispy, with a room-filling fragrance.

And Trenton's version of a tomato pie is practically a religion. They first appeared in 1910, and the recipe remains unchanged: A round, hand-stretched, thin dough topped with a light amount of mozzarella, a judicious smattering of cooked, crushed tomatoes, and a drizzle of olive oil around the crust, baked at very high heat. It produces an impossibly light, slightly smoky, yeasty pie that is among the very best pizzas in the country.

Each style of tomato pie is a throwback to a simpler time. And each style has a story behind it, linking families, traditions and skills passed down through generations.

"Thank God for my mother," said Frank Marchiano, owner of Marchiano's Italian Bakery, in Manayunk. "Her recipes are responsible for our success. My mother, Nunziata, she was from Calabria, and she said that we should start baking some things and sell them to the local bars here in Manayunk."

It was the late '70s and Marchiano was an injured autoworker who needed to support his growing family. He and his wife, Kathy, took his mother's advice and began selling her stuffed breads and spicy oreganata loaves to nearby taverns.

"The stuff was a hit everywhere we went," said Kathy Marchiano, "and soon the neighbors began coming around to my mother-in-law's house."

Word-of-mouth and savory aromas traveled along the snug rowhouses on Umbria Street and soon the Marchianos had a booming "bootleg bakery business," according to Frank Marchiano.

"But my mother was smart," said Marchiano. "She said we should buy the storefront across the street and open a real bakery. We got some financing and we did. Then came the tomato pie."

And that tomato pie has become their top-selling item, with a loyal following. It has been shipped around the world, as far away as Japan and Saudi Arabia (to soldiers in Operation Desert Storm). Before every Sunday Eagles home game, tailgaters begin arriving at 4 and 5 a.m. to pick up the pies.

"It can get a little crazy around here on Sunday," said Marchiano.

The scene is the same at the Conshohocken Italian Bakery on Jones Street in Conshohocken.

"Next to our rolls, it's our most popular item," said Michael Gambone, who runs this family bakery. "It's my father's recipe, from the 'old country,' and I can't tell you how many we sell during football season. Super Bowl Sunday is our biggest day of the year for tomato pie."

Gambone's tomato pie shares similar bloodlines with Marchiano's and another popular version from Norristown's Corropolese Bakery.

All of them have the look and texture of rustic country baking, rich with olive oil and herbs. Gambone tops his version with freshly grated pecorino; Marchiano's and Corropolese's are dusted with grated Parmesan.

The upside-down pizza

When Tony and Dominic Mallamaci moved their South Philly tavern to Mayfair in 1951, they drummed up business by passing out free slices of their unusual cheeseless tomato pie on Frankford Avenue.

Fifty-five years later, Tony's Place serves a pie found only in this neighborhood. The Grey Lodge Public House, across the street and half a block away, serves a similar pie.

"Consistency is the key," said Joe Mallamaci, Tony's son, a second-generation pie-maker. "My father taught me and I taught my son and our head pie man, John Lindell, who has been making our tomato pies for over 30 years! Every day, it's done exactly the same way, and every day John turns out the same thin-crust pie that started the business."

This summer, Mallamaci's son, Joe, opened a second Tony's Place, in Ivyland, Pa., bringing this unique tomato pie to Bucks County.

Broad slices of melted mozzarella hide beneath the bright red sauce now, though some old-time customers still order the traditional cheeseless pie at Tony's. This upside-down version of pizza pairs particularly well with beer, and the lively bar and packed dining rooms here are ample evidence of that.

Mike Scotese grew up eating Tony's tomato pies, and when he opened the Grey Lodge Public House 10 years ago, it was the first bar food he served, homage to his neighbor. Despite expansion of the kitchen and upstairs dining room, the Grey Lodge's pies are still baked in a small pizza oven behind the bar. Scotese and his bartenders layer provolone cheese on a prebaked shell and top it with a thick, garlic-scented sauce. It is the perfect foil for the roster of microbrews for which the bar has become nationally known.

"There's something about our tomato pie," said Scotese, "and I don't pretend to fully understand it, but it is magical. The ingredients and equipment are simple, if not downright primitive, but somehow the combination is really tasty."

Trenton Makes...

The tidy streets of Trenton's Chambersburg section hearken back to a simpler time, when pizzerias were small, family businesses and pizza making was a noble art. In the same way that Pat's and Geno's symbolize cheesesteaks in Philly, Trenton's few remaining tomato-pie houses have remained destination dining spots for pizza fanatics from across the country.

"I don't know if it's an art, but it's definitely a serious craft to make a Trenton tomato pie," said Sam Amico, third-generation pie-maker, and grandson of "Chick" De Lorenzo, who opened the original De Lorenzo's Tomato Pies on Hudson Street in 1936.

"There once were so many tomato-pie places in Chambersburg," said Amico, "the first one was Joe's [in 1910], then Papa's [in 1912], long before my grandfather and his brothers started. Now it's just us, De Lorenzo's on Hamilton [started by Chick's brother Rick in 1947], Papa's, and the Top Road Tavern, and you can tell it's the same basic recipe with slight variations. It's hardly changed at all."

What also hasn't changed is the obvious pride with which each pie-maker offers a version of tomato pie. The tradition keeps them connected to their families, their childhoods, their neighborhoods.

It's old-school.

It's our pie.

#1

34 Replies Related Threads

    CheeseWit
    Double Chili Cheeseburger
    • Total Posts : 1393
    • Joined: 2003/04/10 18:23:00
    • Location: West Chester, PA
    • Status: offline
    RE: Philly Tomato Pie 2006/10/26 11:40:57 (permalink)
    A nice article. Thanks for reprinting it. I've had the pleasure to experience all of the tomato pies listed.

    Pica's on West Chester Pike in Upper Darby does fine tomato pies too. Now that I live in Montgomery County, home to Conshohocken Italian Bakery and Corropolese's, they're my point of reference.

    NE Pennsylvania is another area known for their tomato pies/pizza.
    #2
    terryl
    Junior Burger
    • Total Posts : 10
    • Joined: 2005/02/18 08:22:00
    • Location: Chalfont, PA
    • Status: offline
    RE: Philly Tomato Pie 2006/10/26 11:49:20 (permalink)
    CheeseWit:

    I live in Plymouth Meeting and work in Chalfont.

    I prefer Corropolese's over Conshy Bakery by just a little bit. I also think their rolls are excellent and I only live 5 minutes away.

    I gotta try Kappy's steaks, I saw you give it a favorable review. Right now Pudge's for hoagies and Dalessandros for steaks if I fell like driving.

    Pizza is Charlie's Red Top in East Norriton or Tony & Joe's in Conshy. Near work in Chalfont/Lansdale Spatola's makes a mighty fine pizza too.

    Take care!
    #3
    CheeseWit
    Double Chili Cheeseburger
    • Total Posts : 1393
    • Joined: 2003/04/10 18:23:00
    • Location: West Chester, PA
    • Status: offline
    RE: Philly Tomato Pie 2006/10/26 11:55:48 (permalink)
    terryl: As a side note, Kappy's uses Conshohocken Bakery's rolls. I really liked his cheesesteaks.

    Spatola's does make a nice pie.
    #4
    Michael Hoffman
    Double-chop Porterhouse
    • Total Posts : 18484
    • Joined: 2000/07/01 08:52:00
    • Location: Gahanna, OH
    • Status: offline
    RE: Philly Tomato Pie 2006/10/26 12:10:23 (permalink)
    And here I thought the only people who called apizza tomato pie were from New Haven.
    #5
    roossy90
    Sirloin
    • Total Posts : 6695
    • Joined: 2005/08/15 16:17:00
    • Location: columbus, oh
    • Status: offline
    RE: Philly Tomato Pie 2006/10/27 20:44:54 (permalink)

    Maybe not what they serve in Philly.....pizza pie. LOL
    But I like this kind of tomato pie.

    #6
    big g in joisey
    Cheeseburger
    • Total Posts : 214
    • Joined: 2003/08/13 02:35:00
    • Location: Kearny, NJ
    • Status: offline
    RE: Philly Tomato Pie 2006/10/27 23:04:53 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by Michael Hoffman

    And here I thought the only people who called apizza tomato pie were from New Haven.
    A lot of the oldtimers in/from Newark,Nj, still call it tomato pie as well.
    #7
    joclyn
    Cheeseburger
    • Total Posts : 360
    • Joined: 2009/01/24 23:37:00
    • Location: montco, pa
    • Status: offline
    RE: Philly Tomato Pie 2009/01/25 02:37:53 (permalink)
    pica's is the best pizza/tomato pie! 

    i've had corpolese - and it's okay...i'm not real big on thick crust though.  and i do prefer it hot, so pica's is it for me.

    when i lived in nj, i still would travel back to get pica's (there's no good pizza in nj).
    #8
    porkbeaks
    Double Chili Cheeseburger
    • Total Posts : 2216
    • Joined: 2005/05/06 09:05:00
    • Location: Hoschton/Braselton, GA
    • Status: offline
    RE: Philly Tomato Pie 2009/01/25 08:57:48 (permalink)
    joclyn
    ...............................when i lived in nj, i still would travel back to get pica's (there's no good pizza in nj).



     
    #9
    leethebard
    Sirloin
    • Total Posts : 6283
    • Joined: 2007/08/16 17:35:00
    • Location: brick, NJ
    • Status: offline
    RE: Philly Tomato Pie 2009/01/25 09:27:37 (permalink)
    joclyn

    pica's is the best pizza/tomato pie! 

    i've had corpolese - and it's okay...i'm not real big on thick crust though.  and i do prefer it hot, so pica's is it for me.

    when i lived in nj, i still would travel back to get pica's (there's no good pizza in nj).



    Obviously, you're talking about some New Jersey on another planet...A pizza tour of the great pizzerias of theNJ of earth would take days ands days!!!
    #10
    leethebard
    Sirloin
    • Total Posts : 6283
    • Joined: 2007/08/16 17:35:00
    • Location: brick, NJ
    • Status: offline
    RE: Philly Tomato Pie 2009/01/25 09:29:33 (permalink)
    Oh and many places around here call "Pizza" tomato pie...one right on the Point Pleasant boardwalk!
    #11
    RubyRose
    Double Chili Cheeseburger
    • Total Posts : 2189
    • Joined: 2003/05/07 16:26:00
    • Location: Lehigh Valley, PA
    • Status: offline
    RE: Philly Tomato Pie 2009/01/25 10:25:07 (permalink)
    When I saw the words "Tomato Pie" in the title of this post, I immediately thought of Trenton, not Philly.  We used to drive the 75 miles to Trenton for dinner at the now defunct Crecco's or Lou Greco's and then stop for a tomato pie to take home for a midnight snack.

    Sadly, many of the red neon "Tomato Pie" signs in that area of the city are gone now.
    #12
    MiamiDon
    Filet Mignon
    • Total Posts : 4306
    • Joined: 2006/09/08 07:12:00
    • Location: Miami, FL
    • Status: offline
    RE: Philly Tomato Pie 2009/01/25 10:38:44 (permalink)
    leethebard

    joclyn

    pica's is the best pizza/tomato pie! 

    i've had corpolese - and it's okay...i'm not real big on thick crust though.  and i do prefer it hot, so pica's is it for me.

    when i lived in nj, i still would travel back to get pica's (there's no good pizza in nj).



    Obviously, you're talking about some New Jersey on another planet...A pizza tour of the great pizzerias of theNJ of earth would take days ands days!!!

     
      I've been waiting to see how long it would be before a Jerseyite would notice that comment!


    #13
    joclyn
    Cheeseburger
    • Total Posts : 360
    • Joined: 2009/01/24 23:37:00
    • Location: montco, pa
    • Status: offline
    RE: Philly Tomato Pie 2009/02/06 16:42:32 (permalink)
    i lived in nj (in camden county or burlington county)  for almost 20 years and never found a place with good pizza...okay pizza, yes.  not any that was really good and certainly nothing that compares to pica's (or marrone's even - that's not tomato pie, tho).
     
    lol, love the comments quoting me...yet, no one had any specifics to offer in reply!!??
     
    so...
     
    WHERE in nj is there really good pizza???????  and don't say mack & manco's.  please!  tasty cardboard with sauce and cheese is NOT my idea of good pizza!!  for boardwalk stuff, it's not bad, though.
    #14
    CCinNJ
    Sirloin
    • Total Posts : 7778
    • Joined: 2008/07/24 17:31:00
    • Location: Bayonne, NJ
    • Status: offline
    RE: Philly Tomato Pie 2009/02/07 21:43:59 (permalink)
    Holy Smoke! Have you ever been to Hudson County?
     
    Grimaldi's Coal Brick Oven Pizza
    133 Clinton St.
    Hoboken NJ
     
    Pompei Pizza (by the slice joint)
    480 Broadway
    Bayonne NJ
     
    Big Apple Lounge (Bar Pie)
    414 Broadway
    Bayonne NJ
     
    Just to name a few!
     
    As I clutch my chest and say the immortal words of Fred Sandford "Hold on Elizabeth"
     
    #15
    Mosca
    Filet Mignon
    • Total Posts : 2980
    • Joined: 2004/05/26 23:44:00
    • Location: Mountain Top, PA
    • Status: offline
    RE: Philly Tomato Pie 2009/02/08 09:49:10 (permalink)
    This is the same as what we call "pitza" here in NE PA, best practiced by Senape's and Longo's.
    #16
    weeare138
    Junior Burger
    • Total Posts : 2
    • Joined: 2009/02/13 14:00:00
    • Location: Collegeville, PA
    • Status: offline
    RE: Philly Tomato Pie 2009/02/28 11:54:42 (permalink)
    Just thought you guys might like my take on one of the local (Corropolese) Tomato Pie reviews I threw on my new blog.
    http://phillysteaks.blogspot.com/2009/02/corropolese-norristownlimerick-red.html
    #17
    joclyn
    Cheeseburger
    • Total Posts : 360
    • Joined: 2009/01/24 23:37:00
    • Location: montco, pa
    • Status: offline
    RE: Philly Tomato Pie 2009/02/28 15:26:42 (permalink)
    no, cc, i've never been up to hudson county - will keep those places in mind if i ever do head up that way though, thanks!

    138, good review and an ACCURATE description of the corropolese offering.  comparing it to conshy bakery, corropolese wins with ease!

    pica's is a thin pie and best eaten hot - i really don't count it in the same category as the corropolese pie (cold and thick - and cheeseless....gotta have cheese, imo!).
    #18
    billyboy
    Double Chili Cheeseburger
    • Total Posts : 2409
    • Joined: 2005/01/23 02:28:00
    • Location: New York City, NY
    • Status: offline
    RE: Philly Tomato Pie 2009/03/01 10:25:38 (permalink)
    Is one of the versions of Philly Tomato Pie similar to this?




    #19
    joclyn
    Cheeseburger
    • Total Posts : 360
    • Joined: 2009/01/24 23:37:00
    • Location: montco, pa
    • Status: offline
    RE: Philly Tomato Pie 2009/03/01 17:35:09 (permalink)
    that looks about the same as what is called 'tomato pie' around here.  the corropolese pie is MUCH thicker though and doesn't have as much cheese on it - and the cheese is put on after it's been cooked, so it's not melted.  
    post edited by joclyn - 2009/03/01 17:36:25
    #20
    doggydaddy
    Double Chili Cheeseburger
    • Total Posts : 1847
    • Joined: 2006/06/11 18:39:00
    • Location: Austin, TX...got smoke?
    • Status: offline
    RE: Philly Tomato Pie 2009/03/01 18:17:42 (permalink)


    billy....

    That pie looks pretty good, especially on a Magilla Gorilla plate...

    mark
    #21
    dinska
    Junior Burger
    • Total Posts : 22
    • Joined: 2009/01/30 13:46:00
    • Location: Arlington Heights, IL
    • Status: offline
    RE: Philly Tomato Pie 2009/03/23 16:40:40 (permalink)
    Tomato pie without cheese (at least without a cheese layer) just sounds like the best thing ever.
    #22
    fattybomatty
    Double Chili Cheeseburger
    • Total Posts : 1017
    • Joined: 2008/04/10 19:32:00
    • Location: North Plainfield, NJ
    • Status: offline
    RE: Philly Tomato Pie 2009/03/24 10:37:07 (permalink)
    joclyn

    i lived in nj (in camden county or burlington county)  for almost 20 years and never found a place with good pizza...okay pizza, yes.  not any that was really good and certainly nothing that compares to pica's (or marrone's even - that's not tomato pie, tho).
     
    lol, love the comments quoting me...yet, no one had any specifics to offer in reply!!??
     
    so...
     
    WHERE in nj is there really good pizza???????  and don't say mack & manco's.  please!  tasty cardboard with sauce and cheese is NOT my idea of good pizza!!  for boardwalk stuff, it's not bad, though.


    Joclyn,

    You are correct.  In South Jersey there is NOOOOOO good pizza.  Now before Lee blows a gasket (lee you are the shore to me, NOT south jersey) I will say the south jersey I am talking about is South West.  Camden, Gloucester, Burlington etc.   I have family from that area and lived out there for 4 years when I went to Rowan.  Whenever I would go back up to North Jersey I always had to get pizza at least once because of the crap I ate down there.  It got to the point where I just stopped eating pizza down there. 

    Of course now that I am back north I say I can't get a good cheese steak because those counties do have a bunch of places that make great cheese steaks.  Guess they imported the cheese steak makers from philly and not the tomato pie guys.  haha
    #23
    leethebard
    Sirloin
    • Total Posts : 6283
    • Joined: 2007/08/16 17:35:00
    • Location: brick, NJ
    • Status: offline
    RE: Philly Tomato Pie 2009/03/24 10:53:11 (permalink)
    fattybomatty

    joclyn

    i lived in nj (in camden county or burlington county)  for almost 20 years and never found a place with good pizza...okay pizza, yes.  not any that was really good and certainly nothing that compares to pica's (or marrone's even - that's not tomato pie, tho).
     
    lol, love the comments quoting me...yet, no one had any specifics to offer in reply!!??
     
    so...
     
    WHERE in nj is there really good pizza???????  and don't say mack & manco's.  please!  tasty cardboard with sauce and cheese is NOT my idea of good pizza!!  for boardwalk stuff, it's not bad, though.


    Joclyn,

    You are correct.  In South Jersey there is NOOOOOO good pizza.  Now before Lee blows a gasket (lee you are the shore to me, NOT south jersey) I will say the south jersey I am talking about is South West.  Camden, Gloucester, Burlington etc.   I have family from that area and lived out there for 4 years when I went to Rowan.  Whenever I would go back up to North Jersey I always had to get pizza at least once because of the crap I ate down there.  It got to the point where I just stopped eating pizza down there. 

    Of course now that I am back north I say I can't get a good cheese steak because those counties do have a bunch of places that make great cheese steaks.  Guess they imported the cheese steak makers from philly and not the tomato pie guys.  haha


    No gasket blown. I agree. Haven't found a great pie in the south...and thanks. We near the shore, are CENTRAL JERSEY, not the south...and we have some great pizza.
         This is an Ellen question. Any great pizza in AC?
    #24
    fattybomatty
    Double Chili Cheeseburger
    • Total Posts : 1017
    • Joined: 2008/04/10 19:32:00
    • Location: North Plainfield, NJ
    • Status: offline
    RE: Philly Tomato Pie 2009/03/24 14:33:20 (permalink)
    I'll take one of those sicilian pizza slices.  Looks good to me!
    #25
    big g in joisey
    Cheeseburger
    • Total Posts : 214
    • Joined: 2003/08/13 02:35:00
    • Location: Kearny, NJ
    • Status: offline
    RE: Philly Tomato Pie 2009/05/17 11:45:11 (permalink)
    Pompei Pizza Bayonne,NJ, great thin tomato pie,by the slice or pie.
    #26
    TJ Jackson
    Filet Mignon
    • Total Posts : 4591
    • Joined: 2003/07/26 22:24:00
    • Location: Cincinnati, OH
    • Status: online
    RE: Philly Tomato Pie 2009/05/17 21:54:36 (permalink)
    Billyboy, that looks like Spumoni Gardens' pizza
    #27
    stricken_detective
    Double Chili Cheeseburger
    • Total Posts : 2330
    • Joined: 2004/03/10 23:51:00
    • Location: the 262
    • Status: offline
    RE: Philly Tomato Pie 2009/05/17 23:37:30 (permalink)
    Ok so this begs the question, does anyone have any recipes so I can recreate this masterpiece (tomato pie) here in WI? I remember eating this on the East Coast, but you CANNOT find it here.
    #28
    joclyn
    Cheeseburger
    • Total Posts : 360
    • Joined: 2009/01/24 23:37:00
    • Location: montco, pa
    • Status: offline
    RE: Philly Tomato Pie 2009/05/19 00:23:40 (permalink)
    i've made it at home and come pretty darn close to pica's (thin crust and served hot).  actually, a friend from my highschool days, grandfather used to make pizza every saturday.  i was there once while he was making it - was the spitting image of pica's (same rectangular shape and with the sauce on TOP of the other toppings).

    anyhoo, i digress :)

    the first time i tried making it at home, i cheated and bought pillsbury pizza dough and used jar pizza sauce.  i made sure to go to the deli and get some of the sandwich pepperoni (which is what pica's uses) and got is sliced really thin and, of course, some provolone cheese.

    i unpackaged the dough and unrolled it and then cut it in half - was just me who i was making it for and only half of it would fit on the cookie sheet anyhoo. 

    i rolled it out to very thin and then put the cheese, pep and sauce on and then cooked as per package directions.  if i remember correctly (it's been quite a while) it was about 15 minutes cooking at maybe 375?  not sure about the temp.

    it was pretty good.  the dough cooked up crisper than i was looking for - can't expect miracles from pre-made stuff though.

    the next time i did it, i used my own homemade gravy and beefed it up some with extra garlic and basil for on the pie.  that version was much better...never did investigate making my own dough though - i've not had much luck making bread, so i didn't think i'd do much better with the pizza dough (i just can't get the yeast rising right).

    if you're looking for a thick crust type, i'm no help.  i don't think the packaged dough would work well for that because it's made to be rolled out thinnish.

    i suppose you could not put a rolling pin to it and just unpackage it, flatten it out by hand and then top it and bake.  that would give you a thicker crust - not quite as thick as what we call 'tomato pie' around here.  would be close though, i think.
    #29
    billyboy
    Double Chili Cheeseburger
    • Total Posts : 2409
    • Joined: 2005/01/23 02:28:00
    • Location: New York City, NY
    • Status: offline
    RE: Philly Tomato Pie 2009/05/19 00:53:34 (permalink)
    TJ Jackson

    Billyboy, that looks like Spumoni Gardens' pizza


    TJ, I forgot to put the info with that pie.  Actually that box is only holding HALF of the tomato pie!!  It's from a place called Roma Sausage Co. on Bleecker Street in Utica, NY.  I must have knocked back half of that half a pie in a day or so.  Very addicting!
    #30
    Page: 12 > Showing page 1 of 2
    Jump to:
    © 2014 APG vNext Commercial Version 5.1