Robbinsville, NJ 08691
- Cost: $
- Credit Cards: No
- Alcohol: None
- Parking: Private Lot
- Take Out: Yes
October 23, 2015
A favorite spot for Trenton, NJ’s famous “tomato pies” for more than a century, Papa’s, now in Robbinsville, is still serving pizza with the sauce on top, and plenty of nostalgia on the side.
Papa’s, along with DeLorenzo’s, are two iconic Italian-American restaurants from Trenton’s Chambersburg neighborhood that have decamped to the Mercer County suburbs in recent years. DeLorenzo’s suburban incarnation is only five minutes away from Papa’s on Route 33. EthnicNJ took the opportunity of a girls soccer match in West Windsor to visit Papa’s after the game.
I never visited the original Chambers Street spot in Trenton, but I gather that the new location has preserved some of its old-school decor, including fake tiffany lamp shades and walls of black and white family photographs. The dining room reminds me of my Italian-American Grandfather’s “rec room” circa 1975 (without the full bar and Yankees memorabilia). Papa’s space is much bigger, however, with comfortable booths and tables. Looping music videos of aging musical groups – a senior version of Jay and the Americans this Sunday afternoon – provide the nostalgic soundtrack for your meal.
Papa’s tomato pies are built from the crust up, with olive oil, cheese and any toppings first, tomato sauce on top. We tried two pies: a Margherita and a half sausage/half meatball. The sauce is fresh and tasty. Papa’s relatively thin crust stands up well under the toppings – you can “fold and hold” a slice easily – even with what seems to be more tomato sauce than typical Jersey-style pizza. The crust itself is nicely cooked, with some good color, but doesn’t add much flavor. (I have a theory about old pizza ovens and the crusts they produce. I wonder whether the original ovens survived the move from Trenton?) Next time, I might try the Mustard Pie on the menu, which has mustard baked into the pie dough. Overall, both tomato pies we tried are very good.
Papa’s is more than just tomato pies, serving sandwiches (cheesesteak, meatball park., pork roll and cheese among others), soups (pasta e fagiole), salads, pasta dishes and daily specials like Chicken Francese, Spaghetti and Crab Sauce and Vodka Rigatoni.
The Azzaro family, who have operated Papa’s continuously for three generations since 1912, stake their claim as the oldest pizzeria in the country. They have been serving tomato pies to regulars and newcomers for a long time. Our server went the extra mile and brought me and the coach some anchovies on the side, since our soccer players refused to let them touch their pizza. Realizing that we were visiting for the first time, Nick Azzaro, grandson of founder Giuseppe Papa, emerged from the kitchen to pose for pictures with the team.
Papa’s Tomato Pies
19 Robbinsville-Allentown Road