Original Northeastern Tomato Pies
Tomato Pies originally consisted of a piece of flatbread topped with crushed tomatoes, spice and maybe a few anchovies or a sprinkle of hard cheese. Unlike their southern counterparts, 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. They were originally created in Italian neighborhood bakeries over a century ago when mozzarella was a luxury.
Where to Find Them
Below is a list of five locations, on the east coast, that serve the best tomato pies, crafted just as they were when first invented. There may be other places that make them, but none pay homage to their ancestors like the pies at these local eateries.
- Selling tomato pies by the slice, or the half sheet, 24 slices, Roma Sausage & Deli has two locations, both serving the same, classic, tomato pies. Be warned they are known to run out of food before closing!
- Located in Fall River, Massachusetts, a slice of pizza, or square as they call it at Marzilli’s Bakery, is well worth the trip for anyone in the area looking for something to eat.
- The coal-burning oven at Pepe’s Pizzeria Napoletana in New Haven, Connecticut, never fails to turn out authentic tomato pies, just like the day it was opened by Frank Pepe in 1925.
- Serving extremely thin and crisp crusted pies, De Lorenzo’s Tomato Pies in the suburbs of Robbinsville, New Jersey, has excellent pizzas and salads. Expect to wait for a table at this restaurant, it is always busy.
- After moving to the boardwalk from its original location in the city, Maruca’s Tomato Pies has not altered their practice one bit. Serving giant slices of tomato pies, with a vibrant red spiral of tomato sauce, Maruca’s pies make any drive worth it.
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.