Tomato pie is commonly regarded as unique to 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.
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 aluminum pan and served in square slices.
Tomato pie can be found throughout Philadelphia metropolitan area, and to a lesser extent in downstate 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; and Utica, New York.
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, sausage and peppers, and "utica greens"[clarification needed], 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 Pie, whose proprietor learned the trade at Joe's, was opened two years later in 1912.
Trenton tomato pie
Trenton, New Jersey is a town known for its tomato pies. The second oldest tomato pie restaurant in the country, Papa's Tomato Pies, is located in Trenton. Trenton tomato pie is of the thin crust variety. In Trenton's version of tomato pie, the cheese (mozzarella) is placed on the pie first followed by the sauce. A few tomato pie eateries exist in Trenton's Chambersburg district, most famously Papa's, De Lorenzo's Tomato Pies on Hudson Street, and Delorenzo's on Hamilton Avenue.
Regional Variation on Tomato Pie
Tomato pie, as described above, is a definition understood in northern states of the USA. In southern states of the USA, Tomato Pie is the traditional name of a dish made with tomatoes, mayo, basil and cheese and baked in a pie shell. For a standard example, see the Paula Dean recipe here: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/paula-deen/tomato-pie-recipe/index.html .
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