Tony’s Baltimore Grill is called “Baltimore” because that used to be where its seafood came from. You still can get crab cakes, but nearly everyone now comes for pizza. It has changed owners and menus over the years, but for decades it has been known as the place for cheap late-night eats in a cheap late-night town. The bar never closes, and the pizza oven bakes until 3:00 am.
Tony’s Baltimore isn’t just a pizza place; it’s a bar pizza place, serving pizza meant to be enjoyed over the course of a long drinking session. Nevertheless, the pizza itself has developed a local following; and now customers come just for that, or even order it for delivery.
Tony’s pizza seems seems miles away from conventions of the tri-state area. Its sauce is more salty than sweet; its cheese is more waxy than milky; its crust is crumbly. It is the sort of pizza you want to load up with toppings — about abundance, not subtlety. The thick crust, perhaps resilient to a fault, can handle anything.
Among specialty pizzas, “The Judge,” named for Atlantic County’s head prosecutor (known for holding pizza summits with constituents) is half-pepperoni and half-sausage with diced cherry peppers throughout. The spicy meat and spicy peppers are a great match for beer (and antacid). The aroma of the pickled hot peppers is reminiscent of Buffalo sauce.
Tony’s also is known for meatballs. They are just the right texture and savory enough to be exciting. Both meatballs and sausage make nice side dishes for the pizza and provide excess marinara sauce for crust-dipping.
Gravy on spaghetti with meat sauce is good, but the spaghetti noodles themselves are overcooked and soggy. Still, it’s an enjoyable dish, and next time we’ll get it with meatballs, because those meatballs still are on our minds.