Slice of Jersey – Stop Number 3 – Tony’s Tomato Pies in Long Branch
In a little chateau beside the tracks in Long Branch sits a pizza restaurant that’s been a part of the local culinary scene since 1930. That’s saying something. And it says a lot for the Chiafullo family. “Family” being the key word.Gina (or Ginabella, as she likes to be called) is the “huggy and kissy” hostess, her speech peppered with a generous helping of “fuggetaboutits!” Fingers strategically placed in such a way so as to make 2 forks facing each other, ust to make the point!
Ahhh…but what about the pizza, you ask? Well, let’s start with a little background as to where the magic is made.
Each pie is baked in an oven reminiscent of the one we had at Rome Bakery we owned way back when. The shelves are stacked with stone, and each pie bakes to a crispy brown on the bottom.
Now since none of us had a thing to eat prior to getting there, we went "full boar" for whatever Gina could throw our way. And believe me, they threw plenty of food our way!
First up was a helping of meatballs. Each one made with a generous helping of garlic, day old bread to give each one a moist texture, and baked till the outsides were just right.
Number one was loaded with Gina’s special homemade fennel sausage. (Yes, Gina stuffs the sausage herself. I know what you’re thinking, don’t go there!). Besides the sausage, pie one features fresh, yes, fresh mushrooms. Not that crap out of a can. Also added were onions, bell peppers, a sprinkling of mozzarella, and just enough sauce to coat the pie to the very edge of the crust.
True to form, I began to eat it with a knife and fork…and immediately got an earful from “cabeza grande” Ray the Prize Guy. Naturally Ray had to make fun of me for doing so. Fact is, in order to insure that all the ingredients don’t fall off the pie when you first eat it, you have to cut the end, then eat! The rest of the slice can be devoured with the usual “fold” method.
This pie is the customary “tomato pie” with just enough balance of mozzarella cheese and the aforementioned sauce to the edge of the pie.
For you Shrimp Scampi lovers, this pie is a true delight. Just like your mom would make on meatless Friday, the shrimp scampi pie has a thin layer of mozzarella, with bits of crunchy shrimp dotting the pie, think sliced Jersey tomatoes and a generous helping of garlic.
Here is the video of our trip to Tony's Tomato Pies.
I have to mention as a side note that if you love thin crust, all of Tony’s Pies will not disappoint. In fact, right now, as I write this, I’m still full!
Be sure to check them out, Tony’s Tomato Pies, 228 Morris Ave. Long Branch, NJ 07740. In the immortal words of Gina (or Ginabella, as she likes to be called) “fuggataboutit!”
Next week, stop #4 Nicolo's 1120 Englishtown Rd. in Old Bridge