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.
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.