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Oct 28, 2007 06:46 PM

confusion over papa's tomato pies in Trenton

Ed Levine's "A Slice of Heaven" lists Papa's Championship Tomato Pies at 932 Chambers St. as the Papa's that opened in 1912. My resrarch on Google turnrd up 2 separate entities Papa's Pizzeria at 804 Chambers St. and Championship Tomato Pies at 831 Chambers St. Which of these is the Papa's Tomato Pies that was the second pizza establishment after Joe's Tomato Pies as noted on the Slice website Pizza History.
I am driving from Philly to Secaucas on Saturday afternoon and would like to take the opportunity to have my first Trenton Pie. I see that DeLorenzo's on Hudson is not open for lunch, so I will try to get to the one on Hamilton St., but if I get there after 1:00 I will need a fall back plan. I figured Papas to be the next choice baseed on Ed Levine's book, but only Championship seems to be open for lunch. What do you NJiers think my fall back should be -
High Street Tavern or Jo Jo's.Does anyone understand the relationship between these two? I live in Rochester NY and don't get that many opportunities to dine in Trenton, so I would like to make the most of it. I am traveling between professional wrestling shows from Philly to NYC this Saturday. In the unlikely case that any of you chwhounds are the least bit interested - the Ring of Honor Wrestling promotion offers the best professional wrestling product in the entire world. I travel to shows in NYC, Philly, and Edison NJ on a monthly basis. I try to sample as much roadfood as possible on this quick trips.

I am trying to figure out how such experts as Ed Livine and the Slice guys could be confused about these 2 Tomato Pie spots. Will the real Papa please identify yourself?

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  1. The original and only Papa’s is located at 804 Chambers St. Championship Sports Bar is across the street. Championship is relatively new. It used to be called Bartolini’s. I haven’t had a pie at Championship, but I heard they were pretty good. Papa’s is a small old fashioned pizza parlor. I’m not sure if they are open for lunch. I’d suggest that you give them a call to find out [(609) 392-0359]. Note that like Delorenzos they don’t have a liquor license. I think they are BYOB but you should also verify that fact.

    I can understand why you would want to try Delorenzos, since it is an institution, but for my money, I think JoJo’s is better. JoJo’s is a tavern, open for lunch and dinner. However, they are usually very crowded. The best time to go would be between 2 and 5 in the afternoon .

    I don’t recognize the “High Street Tavern”. I think they might mean the Top Road Tavern on Brunswick Ave. JoJo’s is located at 2677 Nottingham Way a location known as five points. There’s no connection to Top Road or any other place to the best of my knowledge.

    3 Replies
    1. re: TomDel

      TomDel posted:

      "The original and only Papa’s is located at 804 Chambers St.

      Championship Sports Bar is across the street.

      Championship is relatively new. It used to be called Bartolini’s."


      Bartolini's was actually located two blocks away, on the corner at 845 Chambers Street.

      It is now called Puerto Barrios.... and offers Mexican food.

      Here's the photo....

      1. re: FairlessHills

        I beg to differ. Here’s a photo and address of the old Bartolini’s It’ located at 931 Chambers Street

        931 Chambers Street is the address for Championship Bar & Grill. See .

        The place you’re talking about use to be Penny’s Beef N Ribs. See . Penny’s might have originally been Peroni’s (owned by Larry “Sheikie” Peroni) but I’m not sure.

        1. re: FairlessHills

          As a side note, Bartolini’s was reported to have sold more draft beer than any bar in Trenton. They had a stand-up bar, no stools or chairs.

          They became infamous in the 70’s as the only bar along with Quinn’s on Cass Street in Trenton that didn’t allow women in the bar. Women had to enter the dining room from a side door on Morris Ave. Woman’s Lib groups picketed both places for weeks and they finally relented.

          They too made an excellent pie.

      2. Like TomDel said, Papa's and Championship are two different places. My husband and I used to be regulars at Papa's before moving to PA and we always had excellent pizza. Their antipasto salad was also fantastic and we'd get a pitcher of birch beer to share as a special treat.

        I've heard so-so things about Championship's pizza, but if you're looking for a true reflection of Trenton pizza I'd stick with Papa's. However, like TomDel said, they might not be open for lunch so a call ahead is necessary.

        1 Reply
        1. re: SarahEats

          Thanks for both of your informative responses. I did indeed mean to ask about Top Road Tavern in my post. Which would either of you knowledgeable folks recommend Jo Jo's or Top Road?

          I called Papa's and got a hard to hear tape message that sounds like they open at 3 pm. So it looks like my selection is narrowed down to Jo Jo's, Top Road, or DeLorenzo's. Based on TomDel's comment I am leaning to Jo Jo's.

        2. I believe Championship is a sports bar (and has been for some time -- at least 10-12 years since I've worked in the area). Its a true "dive" in all sense of the word. I've been a number of times over the years to watch March Madness and always order their fabulous burger -- just as good as Rossi's across the street in my opinion. They also have excellent buffalo wings. Never had the pizza, but I've seen it and it looks good. The burger is just too good for me to try something different.

          10 Replies
          1. re: jsfein

            Thanks for the note that Championship is across the street from the famous Rossi's Bar & Grill. jsfein - where do you recommend to go to get a tomato pie this Saturday? If my sons want bugers or wings, I guess we can go to either place that you reference. Do you think that Rossi's would be the choice based on it's reputation as a historical part of Trenton / Chambersburg? I see that TomDel lists Rossi's as one of his top 5.

            1. re: sspector

              I haven’t been to Top Road in a number of years and the neighborhood might be getting a little rough these days. Also, I don’t think they have off street parking. They do make an excellent pie however. I think they’re also noted for their Polish dishes, i.e., pirogues, kielbasa, etc.

              I can’t say enough about Rossi’s. They’re noted for their burgers, but the rest of their food is outstanding as well. Note however that they don’t make pizza. Like Top Road, they don’t have off street parking and on street parking can be a problem at any time in Chambersburg. I don’t think Papa’s has a lot either.

              Personally, I’d choose JoJo’s. Like Rossi’s they’re noted for their pizza, but the rest of their food is also excellent. JoJo’s makes excellent burgers and wings. Saturday afternoon is a good time to go and they have a parking lot in the rear of the restaurant.

              1. re: sspector

                I took my grade school aged boys to Rossi's a few months ago and they loved the food. I probably would not have ventured into Championship with them, however, as its more of a bar than a restaurant. I've been to both DeLorenzo's numerous times and I'm in the minority finding the pizza good, not great. The exception for me is the white pizza with brocolli and garlic -- unbelievably good. I haven't been to the other Trenton pizza spots mentioned so can't really comment.

                1. re: jsfein

                  Rough neighborhoods are not a problem as I live next to what was Kodak Park here in Rochester NY. When Kodak was thriving our neighborhood had lots of families, restaurants, stores and bars to service the throngs of Kodak employees. Now Kodak is busy imploding their buildings and employment is a fraction of those days. The neighborhood is suffering as well. I try to support concerns in distressed areas in all urban settings that my travels take me to. Places like Bragman's and Hobby's in Newark are just the ticket for me. I am sure I don't need to explain this situation to people that live around Trenton or Camden.

                  Also my sons are grown ups so a bar is suitable. They are used to me dragging them to historic spots in what is considered a seedy neighborhood. I prefer to see it as an area with character where poor people live. My kids just think of it as humoring their old man, especially when he is treating. Plus they admit, I can find good eats.

                  I really enjoy the experience of sharing an experience like trying a Trenton tomato pie for the first time in a place where many generations have also enjoyed the simple things in life. I never know how many more chances I will have to do stuff like this before the boys move on to the rest of their adulthood. Plus they handle all the driving. I just supply the car and gas.

                  It may be just to hard to pass up going to one of the celebrated DeLorenzo's for my first tomato pie. Even if it is the less heralded Hamilton St. site. So many choices and so little time. How many other people can get so excited about spending a couple of hours in Trenton ( or Newark)? Maybe next time we are visiting Philly (Trevose), we can make a run to Trenton for a Rossiburger. Thanks for all the suggestions that you kind folks have provided. I am no more certain about where we will wind up, but it is sure fun thinking about all the possibilities.

                  And I still can not figure out how a professional food writer like Ed Levine can be mixed up about Papa's location.

                  1. re: sspector

                    Have a safe trip. I’m sure you’ll enjoy wherever you decide to visit. Let us know how you made out.

                    1. re: TomDel

                      Do you know if Joey's Pizza of Hamilton at 1201 Whitehorse Mercer Rd. is the same place as Maruca's Famous Pizza at the same address? What do you think about this place/places? What is it about Trenton with these overlapping pizzerias?

                      1. re: sspector

                        Sorry sspector, I not sure on this one. I did find an address for Maruca’s at 1201 Whitehorse / Mercerville Rd. and Joey’s Pizza of Hamilton at 1800 Rt. 33. I haven’t been to either so I can’t comment on their pies. There’s something strange about Maruca’s though. The original Maruca’s was on N. Olden Ave. in Trenton and shortly thereafter they opened their stand on the BW in Seaside. The Olden Ave. location closed a number of years ago. Their website indicates the Seaside location as their corporate headquarters, but it doesn’t mention the 1201 Whitehorse / Mercerville Rd. location. Maybe it’s a family spin-off not affiliated with the original.

                      2. re: TomDel

                        Yes they are one in the same. Joey sells and is the master of Maruca's Pizza. He owned the seaside and Ocean City stores for some time and now has opened a new store in Morrisville Pa.
                        Boardwalk Pizza at 362 W trenton Ave in the Big Oak shopping center. Stop and try it out sometime.

                      3. re: sspector

                        I grew up in Trenton, and just to clarify: the two Delorenzos are not related (although the original owners were--I believe--brothers). The Delorenzos on Hudson Street is famously known for Trenton tomato pies, and their pies are much more tomato-ey than the Hamilton Avenue spot, which calls what they make "pizza." Maybe that's not much of a distinction to anyone who doesn't live there, but it's a big deal in Trenton. However, both Delorenzos make fabulous pies, both have that incredible thin crispy crust, both use artisanal-type extras like sausage (though I believe Hudson St. uses fresh mushrooms and Hamilton Ave. doesn't). Also--and this is a big deal for many people, especially those who travel to Trenton--Hudson St. does not have a bathroom on the premises. They both have their pluses and minuses. The Hamilton Ave. location will make you feel like you're an extra on the Sopranos set, but only the Hudson St. location makes real tomato pies.

                        1. re: SharaMcG

                          Shara – I see you’re living in Maine now. If you get back to the Trenton area you’ll have to try the new Delorenzo’s on Rt. 33 in Robbinsville near the intersection of Rt. 130. It’s owned by the Hudson St. family and opened a couple of months ago. I haven’t been there yet but the word on the street is that the pies are as good as those from the Trenton location and they even have bathrooms!

                          Unfortunately, the demographics of the “Burg” are changing and many, if not most, of the old school restaurants have either closed or moved out to the surrounding suburbs. It’ the sad ending of an era.

                2. As a menmber of the Azzaro family ( Papa's)" I am proud to say that Papa's is the second oldest continuously family run pizza, tomatoe pie " sestblishment in the United States. TRhat says it all! I am making pies with Abie on Sunday's. By the way Dominick 9Abie) Azzaro is now 82 and still an icon in the industry!!!!

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: Pieman1957

                    Great news! I’m glad to see the family is doing well. Which brother had the place on South Broad St. near Holy Angels church, but on the other side. Was it Mike Azzaro? I spent many a nights in there from about 1962 until 1966. They had great food.

                    1. re: TomDel

                      Hi Tom, My name is Dominick Azzaro and Mike was my father. Nice to here drom someone who remembers the old days. We lived upstairs of the place and have great memories of that time period, although I was a bit young. Do youy remember the muscisians coming in and jamming late at night? We closed at @3 Am during those days. I would wake up and here the music well into the early hours. My brother also named Michael has to restraunts. One in Tom's River and one in Allentown NJ named Via Roma and Via Roma 2 how clever.....Hope to hear back from you, Thanks Dom

                      1. re: Pieman1957

                        Hi Dom! Good to hear from you. That’s the first I heard about the musicians playing late at night in your Dad’s place. Who were they, local guys? I guess I was a little too young to be out that late. My friends and I use to go there during our high school years and shortly thereafter (1960 to 66). After that we all seemed to go into the service or college and kind of drifted apart afterwards. I remember your Dad made great pies and steak sandwiches. Now that I know your brother owns Via Roma II, I’ll give it a try as I live only about a mile away. Are you in the restaurant business?

                        1. re: Pieman1957

                          Via Roma is excellent.....I eat there all the time at the Toms River location!

                          Although for Topmatoe Pies my all time favorite will always be Marucas.