There’s no such thing as pizza in Trenton – or so some diehard traditionalists claim. Instead, the city’s old and revered pizzerias – De Lorenzo's and Papa’s have been established in the area for a combined total of 180 years – serve not pizzas but tomato pies. As the name suggests, this approach places tomatoes center stage, adding them last and using real, seasoned tomatoes instead of a premade sauce. But while the established order insists on the tomato pie label, they are being challenged by younger upstarts such as Massimo’s, which makes Neapolitan pizza in a traditional wood-fired oven.
Massimo’s is a sleek and contemporary pizzeria which has bravely broken free of Trenton’s tomato pie traditions. Its pizzas, baked in a wood-burning brick oven, are rigorously made in the Neapolitan style. They are chewy rather than crispy, with a charred and puffy crust, and are packed full of flavor. As authenticity dictates, their Margherita pizza is particularly delicious.
Papa’s makes the eye-catching claim to be the oldest family run pizza restaurant in the United States, and the second oldest overall, having opened in 1912. It serves a beautiful and traditional tomato pie: thin and crispy, with the perfect balance of cheese and delicious plum tomatoes. And a recent invention that has been sweeping through Trenton is the mustard pie, with mustard added to the dough before it is baked. This innovation has split opinion, but is slowly gaining an ardent fanbase. Otherwise, Papa’s has a broader menu than its long-term competitor De Lorenzo’s, with some particularly great salads alongside the pies.
With a little help from Papa’s, De Lorenzo’s has given Trenton its legendary reputation among pizza lovers. Its pies are ultra-thin and crispy, with the small sprinkling of cheese and the patches of sweet, succulent crushed tomato that mark a masterful tomato pie. The queue for a table frequently snakes far down the street, as it has done for decades. There are a variety of toppings, but De Lorenzo’s is particularly well-known for its use of sausage, garlic and clams. The restaurant recently moved out of Trenton and into the neighboring town of Robbinsville, leaving a location on Hudson Street that it had occupied since 1947.