Tony’s Baltimore Grill
Still operating a 24-hour bar in New Jersey’s gambling mecca, Tony’s Baltimore Grill has stood for nearly a century as a true Atlantic City original.
When PMQ wanted to induct Tony’s Baltimore Grill in Atlantic City, New Jersey, into the Pizza Hall of Fame, the owners were game—but insisted they remain anonymous. “They are not the story; the Baltimore Grill is the story,” their statement read. “Everyone on our team has a list of core values, and none of them involve individual recognition. It’s a team sport.” Luckily, this longtime Atlantic City favorite did share some noteworthy highlights of its 95-year history with us. Here’s their unique story, in their own words.
In 1927, Joseph Tarsitano, originally from Philadelphia, opened the Baltimore Grille at 604 Atlantic Avenue, with the menu featuring pasta and excellent fried seafood (from Baltimore, of course). Local legend says that one day Joseph’s son, Tony, was summoned to the kitchen to help his father. He began serving what his father referred to as a tomato pie, the first ever made in Atlantic City. This pie has gone on to become our now-world-famous 12” pizza.
When Joseph died, his brother John owned and operated the Grill. Tony faithfully served in World War II and, following his discharge, he and his two younger brothers, Dominic and Lou, purchased the restaurant from their uncle and renamed it Tony’s Baltimore Grill. In December 1964, Tony and William “Ricky” Rich bought Paddy McGahn’s Cafe and Musical Bar and converted it to the present-day Tony’s Baltimore Grill. They opened April 1, 1965, with lines stretching down the avenue.
Customers’ memories are what makes the Baltimore Grill really special. Many children have been raised here—whether picking up pizza and cigarettes for their grandparents, or hanging out at the place to be after prom or a sporting event. “I’ve been coming to Tony’s since…” is overheard every single night in our dining room and bar.
The Baltimore Grill is a critical part of the DNA of Atlantic City—as unique as our boardwalk, the very first in America. While the Tarsitano and Rich families are no longer involved, their simple traditions are alive and well today. The current owners, a local family, proudly say that they do not actually own the grill; they are simply taking care of it for the next generation. The real owners are our customers, who would never let a world war, a superstorm or a pandemic take away their beloved Baltimore Grill.
Tracy Morin is PMQ’s senior copy editor and the editor of PizzaVegan.com.