De Lorenzo’s Tomato Pies
“Once you think you know everything,” Gary Amico says, “that’s when things go bad.”
The De Lorenzo’s pizza lineage goes back four generations to Italian immigrants Pasquale and Maria De Lorenzo, who helped their four sons (Jimmy, Joe, Johnny and Alexander or “Chick”) open a tomato pie restaurant in 1936. Eventually, Chick opened his own pizzeria in Trenton, New Jersey, in 1947, which still stands today: De Lorenzo’s Tomato Pies (delorenzostomatopies.com). Chick eventually passed along the business to his daughter Eileen and her husband Gary Amico, and their son Sam helped out from childhood—until Sam decided to strike out into the suburbs of Robbinsville, New Jersey, to cater to a new generation of De Lorenzo’s pizza fans. “I was born into the business, starting as a dishwasher when I was a kid; later, I made pizza five nights a week,” he recalls. “It was a big risk to open a new place, and even though everything’s going well, I don’t take it for granted.”
Of course, the core De Lorenzo’s recipe is at work at both locations, and the Amico family takes pride in the consistent quality of the product. The recipe uses California whole tomatoes that are hand-crushed and blended with other tomatoes to make the most important component of the tomato pies. The thin, crispy crust has followed the same recipe for nearly 65 years, and the mozzarella (true to tomato pie fashion) goes on before the sauce. This recipe has led to dozens of awards for the pizzeria over the years, plus a loyal following that still crowds the original location.
Amico credits the pizzeria’s longevity to hard work and the willingness to keep learning, adjusting and adapting. “In a true family-run business, you know that people care about what they’re doing, that the people involved have passion and really like what they do,” he says. “After 26 years in the business, I’m still learning every day. Once you think you know everything, that’s when things go bad.” —Tracy Morin