Where to Get Classic Northeastern Tomato Pies

by Michael Stern

Unlike southern tomato pies, which tend to be savory casseroles (as at Mary Mac’s Tea Room in Atlanta) or pastry cups (as at Grits & Groceries in Belton, South Carolina), tomato pies of the northeast are clearly members of the pizza family. In fact, they are arguably the foundations of American pizza, originally created in Italian neighborhood bakeries over a century ago when mozzarella was a luxury.

The original pizza pies, which were flatbreads topped with crushed tomatoes, spice, and maybe a few anchovies or a sprinkle of hard cheese, are still billed as Tomato Pies at Pepe’s Pizzeria Napoletana and DeLorenzo’s Tomato Pies. At “DeLo’s,” cheese is mostly applied below the tomato sauce, directly on the crust. At Roma Sausage & Deli, there is no cheese whatever. At Maruca’s Tomato Pies on the Jersey Shore, mozzarella is enriched by cheddar, giving it a buttery taste. And at Marzilli’s Bakery in Fall River, Massachusetts, cheeseless tomato pies are cut into squares and served at room temperature — like tomato-seasoned bread to accompany a meal.


Roma Sausage & Deli

We like Roma for its bakery-style pizza -- a thick-crusted tomato pie made without mozzarella, all about the interplay of tomato sauce and crust.


Marzilli’s Bakery

A much-loved bakery in Fall River, Marzilli's is most famous for big sub sandwiches on house-made bread.


Pepe’s Pizzeria Napoletana

The granddaddy of New Haven pizzerias, Pepe's is best known for its coal oven's chewy, full-flavored thin crust. And for superb, simple white clam pies.


De Lorenzo’s Tomato Pies

Some of the best pizza anywhere is made in New Jersey at De Lorenzo's, where the crust is thin and crisp and the toppings are perfectly balanced.


Maruca’s Tomato Pies

A Seaside, New Jersey boardwalk legend, Maruca's is known for pizza made with a hypnotic spiral of unctuous cheese and red sauce.

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