Tuesday, November 27, 2007

DeLorenzo's

I don't usually write about restaurants on this blog (save for road trips and anniversaries) but in this case I have to make an exception for posterity. DeLorenzo's on Hudson Street in Trenton, NJ has been around since 1947. I've been going here for years, back before my palette had been refined and my idea of good pizza was Pizza Hut. My father used to take me here and I remember sitting in a booth in the back playing with straws as we waited for our food. The first time he took me here he explained that they only serve tomato pie - no salad, no garlic bread, no sandwiches - just tomato pie. For those of you not from NJ, this is not pizza it's tomato pie, as the sign below indicates:


DeLorenzo's used to be a regular haunt for both my father and my mom and stepdad. I can't even count how many times we enjoyed their pies, waiting in long lines that sometimes stretched around the block. This bench provided many with a comfortable place to sit as they waited:


The reason I took these photos is simple - as the atmosphere in Trenton changed over the years restaurants started looking to the suburbs, where most of their clientele lived, to open new restaurants. DeLorenzo's is opening a new store in Robbinsville's Town Center sometime in the next few months. Word around the pizza oven is that the Hudson Steet location will close once the new store gets on its feet. SP and I rarely venture into Trenton to eat these days, so since my parents invited us to have dinner with them last night, I took the opportunity to document what I believe is the quinessential tomato pie experience.

The restaurant is housed in an old, narrow row home:


... and they only serve dinner (no lunch except for call-ahead service on Fridays):


The inside is narrow and it's hard for me to imagine what it once looked like as someone's home:


The oven is in the back with the prep counter in front where the latest generation makes the pies. All the tables are booths except for the large table right in front of the oven that's reserved for parties of 5 or more. I used to love sitting there with my dad and his family because you were right in the center of the action and could watch the pies being made.

The view from the small room in the back:


... shows the soda machine (one of the few places I've been where they have Fanta Birch Beer "on tap") and the cutting station. I was actually shocked to see that they have regular ice cubes now:


... since one of the things I loved about coming here was that their drinks were served with crushed ice. Call me crazy, but I love the texture of the crushed ice.

Here's a pie waiting to be cut and delivered to hungry diners:


We started out by ordering two large pies, the first with half extra tomato and half pepperoni:


... and the second with sausage and sweet peppers:


The crust is super thin so you can eat a lot of pie without feeling full. We polished off these two pies and ordered a third (a small half sausage, half pepperoni) but I was in a tomato pie coma and forgot to snap a picture. Like always, everything was sensational. One of the best things about coming here was leaving with the smell of the pizza oven lingering on your clothes. Hopefully we can make another trip before they close (we've heard early spring 2008) since I know my father is anxious for one last trip, but just in case we don't I've got these photos to remember them by.
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10 comments:

  1. I love the texture of crushed ice too! Oh, and also shredded lettuce :) You are not crazy.
    ~Big Sarah

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  2. Big Sarah!! Oh how I've missed you. :)

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  3. Love places like these. I have a similiar haunt, Spirito's in Elizabeth, NJ. Blogged about it a while ago.

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  4. I love this post! Thanks so much for a sweet and sentimental piece on a little local hole-in-the wall-type place.

    And crushed ice! I remember the Pizza Hut in my hometown used to do that and it was the best thing about having to eat at Pizza Hut.

    Something tells me I'm not going to have that hard a time convincing Jay to make a jaunt to Trenton this week. We both have a couple days off and our big project is to paint the dining room so perhaps this can be our reward!

    Consider doing some more posts like this. You were always so fun to go out to lunch with because we could analyze the food. Even that time we had some pretty bad food at that place on Route 206 in Princeton was fun because it was something to rant about!

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  5. Dani - I'm going to be really sad when this place closes. I know all good things must come to an end, and I know they're opening the new store, but it just won't be the same.

    Erica - Oooohh...days off are always nice. Have fun!! Make sure you go for dinner since they aren't open for lunch. And they're cash-only so bring some with you as there are no ATMs in that area.

    I would love to do more posts about restaurants but (1) I try to remain mostly anonymous and posting about local restaurants would kind of narrow the field a bit and (2) SP HATES when I take pictures in restaurants. He hates waiting to eat while I take the pictures, but he also thinks it draws unnecessary attention to us. He actually have me a hard time last night because I had to use the flash. I'm sure no one even noticed that I was snapping pictures, let alone using the flash, but it irks him so I try not to do it too often.

    I miss having lunch with you!! I wish you weren't so far away these day. :(

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  6. Aww that must have been great, going down memory lane like that. The pizzas - sorry, PIES - look really good too, the toppings like like they were plentiful.

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  7. Katie - Hehe. :) You're learning. I actually tried doing a Wikipedia search for tomato pie but the wrong thing came up. I'll have to try again...got to educate the non-NJ folk. :)

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  8. That place looks absolutely wonderful. I hope the new place captures that charm and feeling of the old place! But it seems like it will probably be more strip-mall-y. Dangit.

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  9. i love that they have a sign for tomato pie! and i know what you mean about crushed ice, there's a place near my work that serves sodas that way still!

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  10. a witt - Sadly, I think the charm will be lost in the new place. There's just something about this location - the old row home, the lack of bathrooms (they were grandfathered in), all the history associated with it, the worn booths, the old plastic glasses and plates. I have a feeling they'll want everything to be new, new, new.

    foodhoe - I'm glad to see so many other people enjoy crushed ice. :)

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