A Visit to the Oldest Pizzeria in the US: Papa’s Tomato Pies

tomato piesLombardi’s claims to be the first and oldest pizzeria in America, having opened in 1905. The issue with Lombardi’s claim is that it closed in 1984 and didn’t open again until 10 years later, in a new location.

Lombardi’s does make excellent pies and I definitely recommend a visit if you’re in NYC.

Since Lombardi’s closed for a decade, what is the oldest operating pizzeria in the U.S. now?

It’s kind of a tricky question… I’d say that Papa’s Tomato Pies in New Jersey takes the crown. The thing with Papa’s is that it was located in Trenton from 1912 and moved to Robbinsville back in 2013. Regardless of the moves, they claim to have never closed for more than a week and that was due to a fire!

Back in 2012, Kim, Lucas and I visited Papa’s Tomato Pies in Trenton and loved it. The place was located in what appeared to be a dangerous part of the area yet it was still busy with customers.

I had wanted to visit Papa’s again but didn’t get to do so until 5 years later when it had already moved into its new home.tomato piesWhen you step inside you can’t miss their claim as being “the Oldest Tomato Pie Restaurant in the United States.”

The new digs didn’t have that old, gritty feel that I enjoyed in the older location but in the end, we were there for the pizza, not the building!Tomato Pies are fairly priced at $15 for a large, 16 inch, 8 slice pie. We decided to order our pie half plain and half with sausage.

While placing our order, I mentioned how we had visited Papa’s at the Trenton location. The waitress told us that the owner still brings in water for making the dough from a tap from that building (which I believe now is home to a Mexican restaurant).

As we waited for our meal, I wandered around the restaurant, checking out some relics displayed on the wall.

A couple of items caught my attention.This old wooden spoon was framed with a small plaque stating that “Nick Azzaro made over 750,000 Tomato Pies  with this spoon between 1965-1995.”

(Azzaro is the owner and grandson of the founder of the restaurant.)The certificate above is from the Pizza Hall of Fame. Papa’s was inducted as an official member on April 1, 2015.

Based on this, it’s safe to say that we were definitely eating legendary pizza! 🙂

The Pizza:img_2067I couldn’t wait to dig in and taste the pie. It sure did look great!

As you can see in the photo above, a Tomato pie is saucy. This shouldn’t be a surprise. There was still a good amount of cheese topping the pie too.I then took a look at the bottom or undercarriage in pizza-geek terminology. It had some nice color, a nice char so to speak. This was evident when we took a bite. The crust was pretty thin and had a nice crunch. The pizza was pretty firm when picked up.The sauce was very flavorful and leaning towards being a bit sweet. I like a bit of sweetness in sauce so this was a good thing. From what I recall, the sausage is brought in from a local butcher shop. I don’t really recall the taste of the sausage but I did prefer the plain slices. (Next time I stop at Papa’s I’d like to try a half pie with pepperoni.)

If you happen to be passing through Robbinsville, NJ, I’d definitely recommend making a stop at Papa’s Tomato Pies for some tasty pizza as well as a taste of history!

Papa’s Tomato Pies is located at 19 Robbinsville Allentown Road in Robbinsville, NJ.

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