This Sunday, I put
my lack of parenting skills on display by bringing two kids under the age of 10
on a one-day, 7+ hour car trip, for the sole purpose of gorging on pizza. At
least with our earlier New Haven tour, the eating and driving were more spaced
out making the experience seem less like child abuse. The kids were game for
the trip and excited to go. I’m not sure if that is an argument for nature or
nurture. Maybe both. I had heard of the Trenton Tomato Pie but never had one before
heading to New Jersey this weekend. There’s a thread on the style over at pizzamaking.com.
One of these days I’ll get around to reading it. It will probably be a much
more interesting read now that I have tasted the subject matter. Let's begin.
picked us up around 8 in the morning and off we
went. A little before noon we got to Daniel
’s place in Princeton and hopped into his van. This daring group of pizza samplers included 3 "adults" - Daniel, Albany Jane and me, and 3 kids my daughters Allison and Casey along with Young Master Fussy. It was a short ride and by 12:15
we were at our first stop, Gennaro’s
After we ordered, I went to go
take a look at the kitchen and told someone behind the counter we had just
driven down to try Tomato Pies and he clearly thought I was nuts. But this
little kitchen visit revealed a few secrets. A door with an Employees Only sign
was open and I could see into a storeroom. I saw the brand(s) of tomatoes they
use and the type of flour. I’m not sure they liked that, because after we sat
back down out our table (which was in a nice outdoor patio), a few blinds were abruptly
lowered. I’m probably being paranoid, because you couldn’t really see the
kitchen through the windows anyway. But trade secrets are trade secrets and pizza
shops have them.
Here’s what we were served at Gennaro’s
The pizza had a crisp crust and the tomato was delicious. I’m
glad I know what tomatoes they use, but I don’t think knowing that is enough to
make what they put on this pizza. Allison and Casey also liked this pizza.
Conveniently located next door was a Halo
ice cream bar. Daniel
has mentioned Halo a few times on Twitter and Facebook
and I was glad to be able to check it out. I should note that at this early and
highly optimistic point in the day, we had delusions of buying several $2 pints
of ice cream to share later in the day. Looking back at this moment with 20/20
hindsight makes that notion seem completely laughable. Allison went with a half
scoop of cookie dough topped with a half scoop of cookies and cream. Casey
selected a half scoop of M&M and a half scoop of mint chocolate chip. I
went with a half scoop of Tahitian vanilla. With tax, title and licensing fees
that ice cream order came in at the low, low price $5.50. Compared to a recent
stop at Guptils
after a softball game, that’s
practically free and the ice cream was significantly better. Living near one of
these places is would be fattening and is probably frowned upon by most
Finished with the first stop on our pizza tour and refreshed
on this warm Sunday afternoon with ice cream, we headed off to Papa’s
. I didn’t
remember the name, but once I saw that they had a mustard pizza I remembered
seeing this shop on the Cooking Channel show Pizza Cuz
A few photos of the television appearance on the wall confirmed my memory.
ordered two pizzas – a tomato pie with half sausage and one of the mustard pies
with half anchovy. There is a note on the menu saying the sausage goes on the
pizza raw so the pizzas with sausage might look a little well done. Here’s what
came to the table. The mustard pie
And the tomato pie with half sausage
Once again, the tomato pie was good. I really liked the
crust but thought the tomatoes on the Gennaro pie
were better. The sausage was also very good. A coarse grind of pork and pork
fat mixed with salt, pepper, and fennel. As sweet sausage
should be. I’m glad I tried the mustard pie, but I doubt I would do it
again. At the very least, I wouldn’t order it again plain. I don’t know if
anchovies are your thing, but it was a completely different pizza with the
salt/flavor bomb that is an anchovy. Maybe the mustard flavor would go well
with the sausage. Casey wanted no part of the mustard pizza and Allison took a bite of it before giving me the rest of her slice.
Casey was just so-so on her slice of tomato pie and Allison
enjoyed the sausage/tomato pie.
We were still feeling pretty good after two stops. Next up
Here, we ordered a cheese pizza, a tomato pie and a deep fried calzone.
My only experience with a deep fried calzone was at Pizza Town, USA. There,
they only deep fry the small calzone. That calzone will fit in your cupped hands. This
calzone, also a small, was more football sized.
I only ate a small piece of it.
dough had a nice flavor but I thought the filling was over the top. There had
to be a pound of ricotta in there. Here's the Corleone's cheese pizza
And the tomato pie
The crust was just so-so here. It looked
like the center of the pizza had been stretched too thin. I thought the tomato
pie was much
better than the cheese pizza but neither was better than the earlier
Maybe it was the two pizzas or maybe it was the deep fried
calzone but as we were leaving Corleone’s
have happily gone to sleep for the rest of the afternoon. The plan was to visit
two more pizza shops. There’s no way that was going to happen without a break.
Daniel knew of an ice place not too far from the next stop across the bridge in
Pennsylvania. Off we went to the Yardley Ice House.
The "water ice" (not sure how it got the name) was refreshing - I went with strawberry lemonade, Casey chose cookies & cream, Allison picked mint chocolate chip – and we took a little walk around the town. I’m not sure if it was
Allison or Casey, but one of them spotted a little park so we headed in that
direction. The three kids climbed around and when we got back to the van, eating
more pizza was was suddenly feasible. We headed off to La Villa
Earlier in the day I had joked that we were going to go to a
Pizza Hut. I’m not sure if she has ever been, but Casey hates Pizza Hut. I let
her know that I was just kidding and all was well. But it turns out that La Villa is in a building that clearly was once a Pizza Hut. The only outside shot has a woman I've never met with a weird expression on her face. I'll spare her the online picture. Think Pizza Hut building in the middle of a parking lot. We ordered a large
This was the only pie of the day that was square. The first
thing you taste when you bite into the pizza is garlic. Not that garlic is bad,
but a tomato pie is meant to showcase the tomato and there was a lot of garlic.
I didn’t really care for the crust here. I thought it was a little tough. It was
the kind of pizza that you had to bite into and then tear the crust with a
little bit of pull. To me, the chew on the crust and garlic knocked this down
to the bottom of the list of tomato pies although I would probably come back
here before returning to Corleone’s
. Allison gave it
an “eh” but Casey really liked it. I think she ate two slices.
We didn’t make it to De Lorenzo’s
a well known Trenton Tomato Pie institution. Personally, I blame them for not
making the list. If they had opened before 4 on Sundays it would have been much
easier to get there and see what they had. From what we ate, I think the best
pizza would be a Franken-pizza combining the crust from Papa’s and tomatoes
. But that is probably outside the realm of possibility. One can dream. Here’s the day’s breakdown:
Time Spent on a Pizza Quest: 6 hours of pizza touring
Number of Pizzas Ordered: 6 pies
Side Dishes: ice cream, water ice, fried calzone
Favorite Pies of the Day
Casey - Villa Rosa
Allison - Gennaro’s
Jon in Albany - Gennaro’s
Albany Jane - Tie between Gennaro’s
and Papa’s w/anchovy
Daniel - Papa’s Sausage
Young Master Fussy - Doesn’t like pizza and would prefer to
go eat soup dumplings
Acknowledgements: I’d like to thank Albany Jane and the Profussor (Daniel) for inviting us on this tour. We he had
a lot of fun. The girls very excitedly recalled the trip to their mother tonight at dinner. I’d also like to thank the creators of the Nintendo DS and Mario
Versus for making long car trips like this possible.