Dear PoP – Where Can I Find A Tomato Pizza Pie In DC?

Moroni Pizza

“Dear PoP,

I’ve been living in the city for 5 years and have yet to find a place to get decent tomato pie (i’m not talking vegan here, just sans the cheese!)

Maybe this phenomenon only exists in the greater Philadelphia area (i’m a native)…. but I’m hoping not. Please help!”

Well we’ve definitely spoken about pizza a lot here at PoP. We’ve even spoken about the the worst pizza in town. And of course people have voiced their pizza preferences here, here, here, here, here, here and even here among other places, yikes we talk about pizza a lot! Well, I can’t recall anyone mentioning a cheesless tomato pie. Does it exist in DC? I’m betting you could probably order one special but is anyone familiar with this Philly style pizza?

34 Comment

  • Oh gosh, here comes a barrage of “what I can’t get here but I can in my hometown” comments. And I’m sure there are plenty of things I can’t get in X town that I can get here, but I don’t complain about it.

  • Red Rocks has – or at least used to have – a tomato pie on their menu. It wasn’t called that, but it was a cheeseless pizza. Also, it’s not just a Philly things. All of the great New Haven, CT pizza places do a tomato pie.

  • you can ask for that at any pizza place. I like armands pizza and have done it there.

  • Pete’s Apizza has one (hmm, anything to do with New Haven style pizza?), and also a gluten-free pizza. I think any place could easily make a cheese-free pizza, but you’d want the other toppings to be good enough that you won’t miss the cheese. So I’d say Pete’s, Moroni, or Red Rocks.

  • So what’s stopping you from going to any pizza place and telling them to hold the cheese? Although, I’m sure there’s some DCRA regulation preventing the sale of of pizza-type products without the cheese.

  • Philly native here. I’d be very interested in finding this as well. However – just to clarify – I’d just like to point out that ‘cheeseless pizza’ is an even less accurate description of tomato pie than ‘steak and cheese’ is of a Philly cheesesteak. You cannot – as stated above – just get it at any pizza place, because it is not just pizza without cheese. It’s more along the lines of a marriage of pizza and bruschetta: its usually large and square like a sicilian-style pizza, the bread (crust) is soft, light, and fresh, the tomato paste (not sauce) is thick and fresh, fresh herbs, and a thin topcoat of dried Parmesan. And yes, they can be found other places, but go to a family-owned shop in South Philly where there’s a woman over the age of 70 with missing teeth that doesn’t speak a word of English and you won’t get it better this side of the Atlantic. Did I mention its freakin’ delicious??

  • Vernados- Seems like you’ve answered the question here. Given that DC is not South Philly, then the place to get such a concoction is also not DC.

    I agree with Anon 11:04, DC is DC, it’s not South Philly, New York City, Los Angeles, etc. There seems to be an unusual expectation from folks who move to DC that the city should somehow accommodate their every desire.

  • I have been to Pete’s Apizza in CH numerous times and tried an individual slice or two. Hand’s down the worst pizza I’ve ever had. I want to like it, hence my multiple times returning, because I want all of the new businesses in CH to thrive. But it was as dry as a bone with no flavor to speak of. Is all “New-Haven style” pizza like this? I’ve heard the pies are better, but damn, their slices suck.

  • Vace in Cleveland park – its just a shop but the tomato pizza, sandwichs, and frozen pasta is awesome.

  • A “steak & cheese” and a “Philly cheesesteak” are two different things. The former is a local creation with lettuce, tomato, and mayo; the latter is just meat, onions, and cheese. And the lettuce/tomato isn’t anathema, either; you can get that on a Philly cheesesteak in Philly. It’s called a “cheesesteak sub.”

  • Getting Hungry – I totally agree and never had any expectation to find a quality tomato pie in DC. But I just had to clear up the misconception that its just ‘cheeseless pizza’ (its not even served hot most of the time) BECAUSE if you let misconceptions like that go then DC does try to cater to the hometown tastes of its transient residents and can fail. Miserably. Lettuce and tomato is just gross on cheesesteak. I mean ‘steak and cheese.’

  • Agreed. Lettuce and tomato is gross. Unlike Cheez-Wiz and and the requisite violent explosive diarrhea.

  • Prince Of Petworth

    I think it’s cool to try and find particular foods specialities from other cities. It’s always possible it that it can be found here, it just shouldn’t be expected. I for one love canolis and have always been on the lookout for good ones in DC. I think there is no harm in asking and if it exists great and if it doesn’t, then it’ll just taste that much better when you find it again.

  • You’ve inspired me to open place that serves pizza-less pizza, without cheese or sauce or bread or toppings. It’s baked by a toothless ghost in a phantom oven, and for $27, you get a really big empty plate. But it’s organic! And we use only finest imported non-ingredients. The ingredients are also cursed.

  • Let me make this comparison. The ‘steak and cheese’ (often called the ‘philly steak and cheese’ in many DC establishments) is as much a local creation as Ice, Ice, Baby is Vanilla Ice’s beat. The one featuring the white guy with rails in his hair and eyebrows rapping may get popular for its own reasons, but it isn’t and will never be Freddie Mercury and David Bowie on the same nasty track.

  • I grew up in Philly, and I had no idea what a “sub” was until I left the area. You’d be better off calling it a “cheesesteak hoagie” if you want lettuce, tomato and mayo.

    I was in my mid-20s before I realized that the sandwich place “Subway” was a play on words…

    When I go back to visit, I get a cheesesteak with fried onions, sweet peppers and pepperoni.

    I’ve never heard of a tomato pie.

  • I get tomato pies in Philly. I think they’re terrible, btw. The ones I’ve had are different than just pizzas without cheese- more like wet focacia bread.

  • the DC “Steak and Cheese” does not traditionally come with mayo, in the 1970s and 80s they all came with Thousand Island Dressing- mayonnaise based, but not plain mayo.

  • Everybody knows that a Steak and Cheese with LTM is referred to as California Style, come on gang, keep up

  • Mmmm…..tomoato pie. Any of the philly natives ever had Cacia’s tomato pie?? Native here as well and that was always my favorite, hands down. And sorry to say I haven’t found anything resembling that around here – sadly, I don’t think we ever will.

  • And since we’re on the topic of philly favorites – anyone ever find a good place to get a decent Stromboli?? Calzone?? Panzarotti??

  • Vernados – I am familiar with tomato pie from living near Utica, NY, and will be picking up some when I go up for Easter weekend. Want me to bring you back a pie? I, too, am on the search for, frankly, really good Italian food in DC. Sometimes you want some homemade gnocci and bread with oil. I’ll let you know when I find something.

  • @VernandosDC has been making steak & cheeses since the 1950s. Also, again, this is not Philly.

    Have I told you about the lousy halfsmokes, chicken wings, and mambo sauce I had in Philly?

  • It’s not just Philly. There’s a regional variant in Utica, New York: Tomato Pie.
    Nope, I’ve never seen it down here either. Then again, it’s hard enough to find local pizza with a minimum level of sauce (IMOHO), much less one that is mostly sauce.

  • Don’t forget the shitty go-go music in Philly. Tom Bell, Gamble/Huff, et al have nothing on the Backyard Band

  • I’ll take Junkyard Band over Backyard Band. But I’m old and irrelevant.

  • Well, when the busting on Philadelphia soul music starts, I just listen to this and bow out…

    However, its a shame this almost made the full evolution into the Philly v. DC argument, because if you look back I got jumped on immediately with the ‘this isn’t Philly’ scoff, when all I did was answer the PoP question and clarify the distinction between the Philly tomato pie that I, and the reader who posed the original question, are familiar with and just ‘cheeseless pizza.’

    p.s. the Wax Poetics with Teddy Pendergrass and Gamble & Huff on the cover hangs from my wall. Proudly.

  • In defense of the Philadelphians (and I’m from Annapolis), I happened to have my first tomato pie this past weekend, carried down from Philly by my sister and brother-in-law, and it is NOTHING like pizza with no cheese, or this one wasn’t, anyway. It would be cool to find it here, it’s delicious, and that wouldn’t mean Philly was better than DC (or, for that matter, vice-versa). It would just be another delicious option.

  • I have no idea what anyone is talking about.

  • @Petworth Res: Really, Pete’s has one? Is it on the menu now? I tried ordering one from them last summer (take out order, over the phone), and they didn’t know what the hell I was talking about. They *did* make it for me, though. It was decent, too.

  • You will find no decent tomato pie in this area. I have looked for 17 years to no avail. I get my fix when visiting the relatives. I don’t bother asking anymore. Too many I can make you a pizza without cheese responses. Tomatoe pie has a thicker crust with some semolina flour mixed in the dough to give it a toothier bite. It is topped with seasoned crushed tomatoes not sauce and ever so lightly sprinkled with Parmesan or Romano cheese. It is served at room temperature.

    Something else that I miss are decent pizzelles. The ones that they sell at Vace are always stale and not crisp. I guess that I need to bite the bullet and buy an iron next time I am up at Fantes which is one of the best cooking supply shops in the country.

    Mostly tourists and drunk college kids go to Genos and Pats and get Whiz on their steaks. Real natives get either American (sometimes called square cheese) or provolone and avoid Geno’s and Pat’s. The best steaks are found in the neighborhood pizza joints, Delessandros in Roxborough or Steves in North East jump to mind. If your afraid to venture far from the Old City area then Campos is good or Jims on South Street.

  • What I want to know is where can I get a Japanese style seafood pizza?

  • “Dear PoP – Where Can I Find A Tomato Pizza Pie In DC?”
    Have you ever eat @ Italy pizza on 634 Florida Ave? They’ve got good pizza.

Comments are closed.