Tuesday, June 28, 2011

De Lorenzo Tomato Pie

530 Hudson Street
Trenton, NJ 08611
(609) 695-9534

My first out-of-the-city mission in the Chevy Camaro courtesy of "Driving the Northeast" was for a slice of world famous, Trenton-style tomato pie. I have never been into Trenton-proper, I've only ever driven through - as there is really no reason for me to be there - unless, of course it's for the pizza.

There is a decades-old rivalry between two "tomato pie" places in Trenton: De Lorenzo and Delorenzo. Yea, it's ridiculous. Luckily when I was driving around the terrifying hole that is Trenton, I felt well protected, for one - I think most of the shady characters thought I might be driving an actual Transformer, and two - because I could handily beat about every other vehicle I had seen all day.

The Camaro was a bit clunky at first, as I was used to my city car, but it started to grow on me immediately. The sound alone when you start it up, a low growl that is powerful without being too overbearing, makes you immediately smile every time you get into the cockpit. Yes, by the way, it's not so much a driver seat as a cockpit. Anyway, after I had inadvertently driven past Delorenzo's and realized they were closed for the week, I whipped the SS around and headed to De Lorenzo's. Luckily there was a spot directly across the street, as I had already grown quite protective of this car and Trenton is not the kind of place to leave a fine piece of machinery such as this unguarded.

The interior of this place is old school Italian. Celebrity pictures, Yankees paraphernalia (gag) and a single oven. Questionable taste in athletics aside, the interior is inviting, and the staff is all very friendly. It's as though you walked into your neighborhood pizza place that your parents were introduced to by your grandparents.

There are no menus, and only pizza with limited toppings to choose from. I hedged my bets and got a small plain and a small sausage and pepperoni for two people. Some Kolsch beer helped satiate our thirst while we waited.

The tomato pie came out first, sparse sauce and cheese on a perfectly baked crust. Things were looking good. The sauce is simply crushed tomatoes with some salt a bit of spice. Simple, perfect. The cheese was just enough, and let the real star of this dish sing.

Why is it that out of all the pizza places in Philly, there are a only small handful that get it right? The crust at De Lorenzo's was amazing. Thin, crispy with plenty of air bubbles and a well done crunch to it.

They cut the pizza with a knife, which lends to an unorthodox division of slices.

The pepperoni and sausage came out soon after. I was initially worried that it would be too much, but it turned out to be just enough. This sausage was sooo good. And the high heat of the oven crisped up the pepperoni to the point of almost burning. It was just what the doctor ordered. Not too greasy and an incredibly crispy crust. Thin crust perfection.


This crust is still crisp after more than ten minutes outside of the oven.

Look at the perfect air pockets.

The pizza master at work.

The nice older lady working the old school cash register had to get up from eating her own pizza to cash me out. Don't worry, there was no pizza left for me to bring home.

A couple of things you should know before you go. This particular location was apparently opened before the state required bathrooms, so when you go, keep in mind that there are NO BATHROOMS. Seriously, it's also nearly impossible to find somewhere to relieve yourself in Trenton. So plan ahead. Also, they are obviously cash only, and close around 9. They do not take reservations, and did I mention that they have amazing pizza?

Monday, June 27, 2011

Chevy Camaro

Thanks to the AMAZING people at "Driving the Northeast" I was given the opportunity to drive a 2011 Camaro SS for a week. That's right, a brand new "Bumblebee" transformers car. For the record, I drive a Subaru wagon, and love it, so I was not sure how I would feel about a slice of American Muscle in comparison. I felt that the best way to really test it out, would be to go on a couple of food related missions, to places I had never been, in order to really get a feel for the car. Plus I was quite happy to take this 428 hp beast on the road. I was able to go to some really great new eating spots, and was actually quite surprised with my impression of this thing. More to come . . .

Sunday, June 26, 2011


1512 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA
(215) 558-5213

That's right, Chipotle. But wait, it's okay because McDonald's no longer holds a majority share. As you will soon see, I have been lucky enough to be driving around in a 2011 Chevy Camaro, which I will talk about in further detail later. See how pretty it looks in Center City.

Anyway, I hadn't been to a Chipotle in years, and with the somewhat recent outpost being opened on Walnut, I felt that maybe I should see how El Fuego's corporate competition stacks up.

The corridor to get back to the line is thin, sleek and attractive. I know I am not "supposed" to like this place, but I can't find anything to complain about.

They operate on the usual burrito-joint assembly-line process.

I went with a chicken burrito and a barbacoa (my favorite) bowl.

Barbacoa below.

The burritos are massive, as expected, and I am not ashamed to say, delicious. Everything was delicious, in fact. The cilantro rice actually had flavor and was cooked just right. All of the ingredients were well prepared, from the slightly spicy adobo marinated chicken to the roasted chili-corn salsa.

In the bowl, the spicy shredded beef barbacoa was tender, had some real heat, and ALMOST stood up to my favorite (and standard for comparison) out West. I liked both the bowl and the burrito, but I'll always favor my Chipotle ingredients wrapped in a tortilla.

It almost pains me to say that this place is better than El Fuego, but it is. There was plenty of flavor, and given their efforts to sustainability, they're not quite as evil as other, comparable fast food establishments.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Green Olives

992 N 2nd St
Philadelphia PA 19123
(215) 923-3979

Want to know how "Mom-and-Pop" Green Olives is? They don't have a website! They don't even have a menu online. It's actually quite interesting. How are they resisting the black hole of real-life social interaction that is the internet?

But I digress... I have been riding by the place frequently in the recent weeks and have been wanting to stop for lunch, but I have also been weary. Who opens a place across from the Piazza, and doesn't have a website? (digression?) Putting my questionable logic aside, I was lured in by the siren's call of grilled chicken wraps.

They also offer smoothies, platters, and a whole plethora of other things for which I didn't realize there was a market, especially in this neighborhood.

There is a bar full of various Mediterranean salads, pre-made falafels, roasted peppers, and spreads.

An olive bar.

A table full of pita bread.

A wall full of dried goods, and snacks, such as blueberry yogurt covered pretzels (among other yogurt flavors), various nuts and healthy items like wasabi (at least that's what I consider healthy).

One of the most interesting finds was the presence of three kinds of popcorn kernels. I don't make much popcorn, but these had me wanting to fire up the stove and celebrate America with a red, white and blue kettle corn blowout.

So anyway, you order from the overhead menu, and the nice older lady takes it down. I found a bit of a language barrier, but when she asked if I wanted hot peppers, I was reassured.

My wrap was done in (approximately) the quoted five minute time period, and came, surprisingly, with a cucumber, tomato and mint salad on the side. According to the menu, the sandwiches are served with a Mediterranean salad and tahini, which I figured went ON the sandwich. Also, the tahini was nowhere to be found.

The sandwich was a decent sized portion, and at $6 and change with a side salad, was a pretty good deal. The salad was decent, doused in red wine vinegar with the punch of fresh mint and dried oregano.

When I looked at the sandwich, however, there was something interesting going on. Instead of just the chicken, lettuce, tomato, onion, tzatiki and hot peppers I had expected, there was something else going on. A purplish culprit that I usually find quite off putting. Beets. More specifically, I noticed the unmistakable juice on the front of the pita. I figured it must have been some cross contamination from another item they were preparing. So I dug in.

Lo and behold, it was no isolated incident. There were indeed beets throughout the sandwich. There were not, to my dismay, any hot peppers. The sandwich was tightly wrapped, which led to no spillage, and the ingredients were fresh, but what the hell were these beets doing in my Mediterranean grilled chicken wrap? Unfortunately, they were saving it. This cylinder was borderline dry, save for the moisturizing power of . . . beets. I usually don't like them, but I must admit, they actually added to this sandwich. Probably because the chicken was dry and had been cooked some time ago. That and the fact that there was nary a hot pepper to be found aside, it wasn't the worst attempt I have seen. Would I order it again? Probably not. But I will more than likely find myself rolling back to see what some of the other items are all about. Oh, and some Nationalistic popcorn.