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Though perhaps overshadowed by fellow East Coast pizza meccas New York City and New Haven, New Jersey has its own long pizza tradition: Pizzerias showed up in New Jersey (in Trenton, specifically) in 1910, just five years after Manhattan’s Lombardi’s became the first in the country. Most of those Trenton pies were termed “tomato pies” based on the way they were made: cheese first and then the chunky tomato sauce, so that a slice would be dotted with little piles of tomato. Without delving into Jersey’s own excellent coal- and brick-oven pizza joints, we are focusing here on slice pizza, a mainstay of the boardwalks and, well, just about every town in the state. What else do you expect from Tony Soprano’s home state?
Where: 60-plus-year-old Maruca’s (601 Boardwalk, map), is a great choice in Seaside Park. It’s celebrated for its own tomato pies, recognizable for its signature swirl of bubbly cheese and tomato sauce.
When: Daily, 11:30am-11:30pm (weather dependent; in winter it’s more like noon-7pm)
Order: A generous slice of tomato pie ($3.50), called so because these are Trenton-style pizzas. (Read all about Trenton tomato pies for your next visit inland to Central Jersey.) The crust is soft but crispy, and not too thin; the tasty sauce is the company’s own. Maruca’s also makes a New York-style plain slice, but the sauce is too buried under all the cheese. The tomato pie is where it’s at.
Alternatively: On Ocean City’s boardwalk, Mack & Manco Pizza (three locations on boardwalk, including no. 920, map) has been a local institution for 50-plus years, known for its crispy thin-crust pizza made in the tomato-pie style. Joey Tomato’s (732-295-2624; at Central Ave., map) on the Point Pleasant boardwalk is another solid choice for a regular slice, as well as some interesting toppings, like smoked mozzarella, deep-fried eggplant, and “Buffalo wings” chicken.
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