Papa’s Tomato Pies, in Robbinsville, NJ, was originally opened in 1912 in Trenton, NJ.
It claims to be the oldest continuously family-run pizza restaurant in the country.
Neapolitan natives Giuseppe (Joe) and Adalene Papa founded the pizzeria
that is now run by their grandson, Nick Azzaro.
The first pizzeria in Trenton was called Joe’s Tomato Pies opened in 1910 by Joe Silvestro (closed in 1999). Joe Papa learned to make tomato pies here before opening his own shop at age 17.
Papa’s serves “tomato pies” as opposed to “pizza,” the difference supposedly being that the cheese is put on the dough first, then the tomato sauce. But I must admit, I didn’t notice a difference. It’s all apizz’ to me. According to Ed Levine’s Pizza: A Slice of Heaven, the original ovens at Papa’s were coal-fired and changed to gas in the 1950s.
From the menu, I ordered a regular tomato pie. (Interestingly, they have what they call a mustard pie, that has mustard underneath the cheese and tomato. I’ve never seen this before.)
So I’ve written about pizza before. Pizza has three components: crust, sauce and cheese. The hardest part to perfect is the dough. Good pizza dough is kind of like porn–I know it when I see it. Papa’s has perfected the dough. It has a great bake and flavor. It has a pretty thin crispy crust, which I’ve come to learn, is popular in New Jersey. The sauce, on the sweet side, showcases the tomato nicely. The cheese is creamy. With an excellent crust, albeit on the thin side for my taste, all in all, Papa’s makes a great pie.
(I ordered a house salad too to make eating pizza a bit healthier. However, the salad was lackluster to say the least. Stick to the pie and get your greens elsewhere.)
The restaurant is located behind another building off the road. There is a gravel driveway and a parking lot with plenty of parking. It is cash only so be prepared. They do have an ATM on site.