I’ve lived in Philly for over half a yr now. It’s been simply sufficient time to absorb the town’s quirks, like probably the most well-known landmarks, hectic parking guidelines and famed cheesesteaks. Nonetheless, I’ve additionally seen native delicacies outdoors of the town’s signature sandwich—primarily, tomato pie.
I noticed my first tomato pie at ReAnimator Espresso, a neighborhood espresso chain with a department close to my house. On the time, I assumed it was a pizza. The store had the pies sitting subsequent to the pastries and sandwiches on the cabinets, able to be bought at room temperature. They have been formed like the oblong specialty slices I’d seen bought at outlets round my hometown in New Jersey. On this case, they featured a beneficiant layer of tomato gravy (because it’s known as in these elements) with recent sliced garlic and finely grated cheese dusted on high.
It may’ve simply been some form of margherita pizza variant I didn’t find out about. It was solely once I stored seeing similar-looking pies outdoors of pizza parlors that I began to suspect it was its personal factor. The bread evokes recollections of Chicago deep dish with its equally formed slices. Nonetheless, tomato pies have small variations that set it aside from correct pizzas.
To be truthful, pizza is within the tomato pie’s DNA. In accordance with Eater, tomato pies originated from Sicily, Italy, from the place many immigrants moved to the US and settled within the Philadelphia space. These Italians introduced their heritage with them, together with their boxy pizzas adorned with tomato sauce and greens. Many instances, they’ll forgo cheese. If there’s any, it would most likely be grated Romano or Parmesan.
Tomato pies are just like these Sicilian pizzas. Nonetheless, a correct pie is meant to be extra of a cross between focaccia and pizza. One other sort of Italian bread just like that you just’d discover in a pizza, focaccia is thick, closely seasoned bread that’s typically bought as an appetizer or used for sandwiches. A great tomato pie has a equally thick crust evenly coated with oil and generously seasoned with Italian spices, so it doesn’t depend on the sauce as the one supply of taste.
Tomato pie can be apparently ceaselessly bought in South Jersey. As somebody who grew up in North Jersey (or what I’d correctly name Central Jersey), I’d by no means seen it till I moved to Philly, so I can’t affirm or deny how widespread it’s compared. It’s simply extra noticeable as a neighborhood delicacy contained in the Pennsylvanian capital than across the space the place I grew up. Comparable variants pop up in neighboring northeastern states like Delaware and Rhode Island too.
Fortunately, ReAnimator’s tomato pies style simply pretty much as good as they give the impression of being. Their tomato pie flaunted a thick, fluffy crust topped with flavorful sauce that was enhanced with garlic and a snowy dusting of cheese. It was tender on the within however had some chew to the highest layer and edges, particularly due to the crust. I may’ve chosen to have a middle slice with none crust if I wished, very similar to one may select the center piece in a batch of brownies in the event that they solely wished the softest, chewiest elements of the pastry. I favored the additional crunch, although.
In the event you ever discover the tomato pie at a neighborhood Philly cafe or deli, check out the crust. If it appears to be like chock stuffed with herbs and chunky tomato gravy, I’d recommend you give it a attempt. Bonus factors for a lightweight topping of greens or cheese. You may discover it a pizza variant price appreciating.