Tomato pie

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Tomato pie
Type Pizza
Place of origin United States
Serving temperature Room temperature
Main ingredients Focaccia-like dough, tomato sauce, romano cheese
Cookbook: Tomato pie  Media: Tomato pie

Tomato pie is a type of pizza created in the late 19th early 20th century by Italian-American populations. Unlike typical New York-style pizza, which is closely related to Neapolitan pizza, tomato pie is derived heavily from Sicilian pizza, and as such can be found in predominantly Sicilian-American communities. Tomato pies are distinct from pizza due to the process of how they are created. One variety is built the opposite of pizza pies. Cheese and other toppings are added on first, then the tomato sauce.[1][2] In Philadelphia, it is usually served at room temperature in rectangular sheets with little to no cheese.[3]

The basic recipe for tomato pie calls for a thick, porous, focaccia-like dough covered with tomato sauce, more like a pizza than a covered pie, then sprinkled with grated romano cheese. Many bakeries and pizzerias have their own variation on this formula. It is not usually served straight from the oven, but allowed to cool and then consumed at room temperature or reheated. Like Sicilian pizza, tomato pie is baked in a large aluminium pan and served in square slices.

Tomato pie can be found throughout the Philadelphia metropolitan area, Providence, Rhode Island, Central New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, especially in and around Italian communities. Notable locations serving the dish are Trenton, New Jersey; Lewes, Delaware; the Norristown, Pennsylvania, area; Utica, New York, Waterbury, Connecticut, Southington, Connecticut, Bristol, Connecticut and Sun Prairie, WI.


As evidenced by period photographs of O'scugnizzo's Pizza in East Utica, New York, tomato pie was sold as early as 1914. Along with chicken riggies and Utica greens, tomato pie is regarded as an idiomatic part of Utica Italian-American cuisine.

The Trenton tomato pie may even predate the Utica variety. Joe's Tomato Pie (now defunct) was first opened in 1910. Papa's Tomato Pies, whose proprietor learned the trade at Joe's, was opened two years later in 1912.[4]

Chefs and cooks who make tomato pies define the distinction between pizza and tomato pies in the process of making the pie. Pizza adds tomato sauce before adding cheese and other toppings while tomato pies add the tomato sauce after cheese and other toppings.[1][2]

Trenton tomato pie[edit]

Trenton, New Jersey, is a town known for its tomato pies, and is home to both the second and oldest currently operating tomato pie restaurants, De Lorenzo's and Papa's, in the United States. Unlike the thicker Sicilian style tomato pie, Trenton tomato pie is of the thin crust variety and is served hot. In Trenton's version of tomato pie, the mozzarella is placed on the pie first followed by the sauce.[5]

Carolina tomato pie[edit]

A completely different dish, also called "tomato pie," is popular in the South, particularly in the Carolinas. Considerably heartier, its crust is a single pie pastry baked in a pie pan. Fresh sliced tomatoes...and fresh ones are mandatory...are layered in the pie shell, the same way apples are layered in an apple pie. A topping of grated cheese mixed with either mayonnaise or a white sauce is spread thickly atop the tomatoes and the pie is returned to the oven and baked until the topping is browned. The result, more of a real pie than a flatbread like pizza, is often enough for a meal in itself, while the Northeastern tomato pies are more like snacks.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Holly Eats". Retrieved 2012-04-12. 
  2. ^ a b Joshua Lurie (2008-06-23). "De Lorenzo’s Tomato Pies: Trenton vs. Robbinsville". Retrieved 2012-04-12. 
  3. ^ Chester County Pie Guy (6 February 2013). "Pizza Quixote: Defining the Tomato Pie". Retrieved 2013-04-30. 
  4. ^ A Slice of Heaven: American Pizza Timeline
  5. ^ Jill P. Capuzzo (2010-01-12). "Trenton Tomato Pies Are Still A Staple of the New Jersey Pizza Scene". New Jersey Monthly. Retrieved 2015-09-11. Compared to every other kind of pizza, Trenton tomato pies are put together backwards. Cheese and toppings go on first. Only then comes the tomato sauce—seasoned, crushed plum tomatoes, to be precise—spooned on with the individual pizzamaker’s signature flair.