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De Lorenzo's Tomato Pies

2350 US-33, Robbinsville, NJ - (609) 341-8480
Posted By Bruce Bilmes and Susan Boyle on 9/1/2009 10:41:00 AM
Start with one of America's finest pizza makers: De Lorenzo's Tomato Pies on Hudson Street in Trenton, NJ. Add a selection of salads and a bathroom (there is none at Hudson). What do you get? De Lorenzo's Tomato Pies in Robbinsville, NJ. Yes, Robbinsville may be the suburbs, and the new restaurant sure is spacious and modern, but the pizzas that emerge from those ovens are identical to the ones served on Hudson Street.

Trenton's version of Little Italy (The Burg) is no more, or rather, to be more precise, The Burg still exists but it is no longer Italian. Almost every Italian restaurant in the neighborhood has closed up shop, many having moved to modern digs in the suburbs. The original De Lorenzo remains open for now, although their operating hours have been curtailed since this new branch opened last year. That original, founded by the late Chick De Lorenzo, is now operated by Chick's daughter, Eileen Amico, and her husband Gary. Their son Sam runs the new Robbinsville store.

These world-class tomato pies are built upon extremely thin, crisp crusts. Canned tomatoes are used, not tomato sauce. There's no hail of dried herbs here, just tomatoes, a modest amount of cheese, the toppings of your choice, and oil. The philosophy is balance, not extravagance. Toppings are applied sparingly; don't expect pizzas weighted down with pounds of meats and cheeses. We know people who consider one large pie per person about right.

Sam has added a few new topping options to the menu. You can now get things like fresh basil, artichokes, and roasted peppers, but our favorite toppings still include the juicy, chunky sausage and toothsome thick-sliced pepperoni. White pies with broccoli or spinach are also recommended.

As in many of the great pizzerias, salads have been added to the menu, and these are not mere formalities. They do a terrific job with salads, and we've enjoyed all kinds of seasonal combinations of pristine greens topped with things like juicy fresh blackberries, perfectly ripe and sweet heirloom tomatoes, sharp cheese, and toasted pine nuts.

De Lorenzo is open for lunch four days a week and dinner six days a week but, no matter which day you go, expect to wait for a table if you arrive at a normal mealtime (they do not take reservations). If you really don't like to wait the best approach is to arrive when they open, 11 am for lunch, 4 pm for dinner, when you should be able to waltz right to a table. They do not have a liquor license (a scarce commodity in New Jersey).

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Scorecard

5 - Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
Large Tomato Pie
Seasonal Salad
Pizza Toppings
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Reviewers Photos [Upload Your Photos]

There's more cheese than it appears at first glance on this large tomato pie topped with sausage and roasted peppers, because they put most of the cheese directly on the crust before adding the tomatoes and toppings.  They then add a light sprinkle of mozzarella over the top of the pie.  Still, this is not the place for pizza heavily gobbed with cheese.
"There's more cheese than it appears at first glance on this large tomato pie topped with sausage and roasted peppers, because they put most of the cheese directly on the crust before adding the tomatoes and toppings. They then add a light sprinkle of mozzarella over the top of the pie. Still, this is not the place for pizza heavily gobbed with cheese."
Bruce Bilmes and Susan Boyle





A large pepperoni-topped tomato pie.
"A large pepperoni-topped tomato pie."
Bruce Bilmes and Susan Boyle


The pepperoni at De Lorenzo's is sliced thick.  Some sits on top of the pie, crisping around the edges, while some slices stay soft below the sauce and cheese.
"The pepperoni at De Lorenzo's is sliced thick. Some sits on top of the pie, crisping around the edges, while some slices stay soft below the sauce and cheese."
Bruce Bilmes and Susan Boyle


Is there a unique name for those blackened bubbles that sometimes appear on pizza?  If there isn't, there should be.  It's one of our favorite parts of a pizza.  Note that unlike just about every other pizza legend in the U.S., De Lorenzo does not use wood or coal-fired ovens.  These pies come out of standard gas pizza ovens, and their quality is the result of the pizza-makers' skill and restraint.
"Is there a unique name for those blackened bubbles that sometimes appear on pizza? If there isn't, there should be. It's one of our favorite parts of a pizza. Note that unlike just about every other pizza legend in the U.S., De Lorenzo does not use wood or coal-fired ovens. These pies come out of standard gas pizza ovens, and their quality is the result of the pizza-makers' skill and restraint."
Bruce Bilmes and Susan Boyle


Salads vary with the season, like this one generously garnished with fresh, ripe blackberries.
"Salads vary with the season, like this one generously garnished with fresh, ripe blackberries."
Bruce Bilmes and Susan Boyle


It's hard to improve upon a salad of ultra-fresh greens, strips of red onion, very sweet sliced grape tomatoes, toasted pignoli, and a balsamic dressing.
"It's hard to improve upon a salad of ultra-fresh greens, strips of red onion, very sweet sliced grape tomatoes, toasted pignoli, and a balsamic dressing."
Bruce Bilmes and Susan Boyle


There are historical photos posted around the restaurant, like this one showing founder Chick with his wife Sophie.  Want to be able to identify Chick's grandson (Sam, the owner) in today's restaurant?  Imagine this photo of Chick with his head shaved, and he could practically be Sam's twin!
"There are historical photos posted around the restaurant, like this one showing founder Chick with his wife Sophie. Want to be able to identify Chick's grandson (Sam, the owner) in today's restaurant? Imagine this photo of Chick with his head shaved, and he could practically be Sam's twin!"
Bruce Bilmes and Susan Boyle


Like all the businesses along this stretch of Route 33, the main entrance is in the back, off the parking lot.
"Like all the businesses along this stretch of Route 33, the main entrance is in the back, off the parking lot."
Bruce Bilmes and Susan Boyle


While not exactly a gout de terroir beverage, birch beer does seem to be more popular in New Jersey than anywhere else.
"While not exactly a gout de terroir beverage, birch beer does seem to be more popular in New Jersey than anywhere else."
Michael Stern


Perfect Harmony: crisp crust, creamy mozzarella, fruity crushed tomatoes and zesty Italian sausage.
"Perfect Harmony: crisp crust, creamy mozzarella, fruity crushed tomatoes and zesty Italian sausage."
Michael Stern


From the outside, the new De Lorenzo's in Robbinsville hardly looks like a profoundly soulful dining experience; but if pizza is your passion, it is rapturous.
"From the outside, the new De Lorenzo's in Robbinsville hardly looks like a profoundly soulful dining experience; but if pizza is your passion, it is rapturous."
Michael Stern


Pizza is De Lorenzo's glory, but the new place also has some amazing salads on the menu. This one was loaded with berries and topped with slices of shaved hard cheese.
"Pizza is De Lorenzo's glory, but the new place also has some amazing salads on the menu. This one was loaded with berries and topped with slices of shaved hard cheese."
Michael Stern


A lovely sight: lots of available seats. This photo was taken about 11:45am, as I entered. By the time I was finished eating, the place was packed.
"A lovely sight: lots of available seats. This photo was taken about 11:45am, as I entered. By the time I was finished eating, the place was packed."
Michael Stern



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